Social visionary Joseph Chilton Pearce’s indictment of cultural imprinting as the cause of humankind’s cruel and violent behavior
• Refutes the Neo-Darwinist assumption that violence is inherent in humanity
• Identifies religion as the sustaining force behind our negative cultural imprinting
• Shows how infant-adult interactions unconsciously block the creative spirit
We are all too aware of the endless variety of cruel and violent behavior reported to us in the media, reminded daily that in every corner of the world someone is suffering or dying at the hands of another. We have to ask: Is this violence and cruelty endemic to our nature? Are we, at our foundation, really so murderous? In The Death of Religion and the Rebirth of Spirit, Joseph Chilton Pearce, life-long advocate of human potential, sounds an emphatic and convincing no.
Pearce explains that beneath our awareness, culture imprints a negative force-field that blocks the natural rise of the spirit toward its innate nature of love and altruism. Further, he identifies religion as the primary cultural force behind this negative imprinting. Drawing from recent neuroscience, neurocardiology, cultural anthropology, and brain development research, Pearce explains that the key to reversing this trend can be found in the interaction between infants and adults. The adult mind-set effectively compromises the infant’s neural and hormonal interactions between the heart and the higher evolutionary structures of the developing brain, thus keeping us centered primarily in our most primitive and defensive neural foundations, generation after generation. Pearce shows us that if we allow the intelligence of the heart to take hold and flourish, we can reverse this unconscious loss of our true nature.
Building on Darwin, Pearce pleads that humanity rise above its lower, instinctual "brain" to allow "our newest brain" the "fourth brain" to flourish. This will bring about a higher stage in evolution that prizes love and altruism. According to Pearce (The Biology of Transcendence), the biggest roadblocks to this new order are religion and science, which together promote violence and arrogance. These "two mongrels" of culture have long forced civilized people into a false either/or choice, one that Pearce characterizes as a choice "between being hanged or shot." For Pearce, the two disciplines have produced "a single monoculture sweeping the globe and bringing a mounting tide of irrational and ever more intense violence," and leaving us and especially our children "spiritually starved." To overcome the terrible evils of science and religion and fulfill the promises of the fourth brain, we must cultivate what Pearce calls "the dynamic of the heart-brain-mind relationship," literally listening to our heart as a kind of brain itself that prioritizes love and intimate relationship above all else. Heavy on the science, Pearce's overall argument is slow going but worthwhile because of his fluid prose and intriguing understanding of human evolution.