West of Jesus

West of Jesus by Steven KotlerI just finished reading Steven Kotler‘s West of Jesus where he searches for “surfing, science and the origins of belief.”  Kotler is a journalist in search of a story he hears about a weather controlling surf guru.  Hilarity ensues.

I’m usual a fan of adventure books.  I don’t mean “adventure” in the sense of westerns, the Hardy Boys or Choose-Your-Own Adventures.  I mean books where dudes go on crazy adventures and write about them, like A Walk in the Woods or Driving Mr. Albert (which are both excellent reads).

And I enjoyed this book as well while I followed Kotler to Indonesia, New Zealand, Hawai’i and beyond in search of his story about “The Conductor.”  I was a bit unsure about the book when I started reading –  I found the writing style not to my liking (I’m sorry I can’t acticulate this better).  But once I got to part two (of seven) I was on board with the esuing adventure and discoveries.

The most interesting thing about the book is the look at the science of spirituality as a function of genetics, evolution and biology.  It’s crazy.  Turns out there are tons of studies on how the brain reacts to situations that some interpret as “religious experiences,” much in the way that the brain releases different signals for happiness, sadness and every other emotion. And as you might deduce from this, it turns out that there is good evidence that some people are more genetically or biologically likely to be religious than others in the same way that one might be genetically pre-disposed to being a talented artist or musician.

At the risk of getting hokey, there are also some interesting observations on the interconnectedness of things – times, people, events and so on. Kotler himself admits that giving credence to what may just be coincedence can be silly and useless; but on the otherhand, some coincendences can be too amazing to just dismiss.


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