04 Feb Positive Psychology, Happiness and Faith (a book review)
Spiritual Evolution: A Scientific Defense of Faith
by George E. Vaillant, M.D. New York, Broadway Books, 2008, 256 pp., $24.95.
MARC GALANTER, M.D.
New York, N.Y.
George Vaillant is well known to psychiatrists for his exacting research on the psychological aspects of adult development and the evolution of ego mechanisms over the course of the life cycle. His epidemiologic studies on the natural history of alcoholism and the outcome of heroin addiction, conducted decades ago, have been revealing in ways that are unrivaled by many community-based studies carried out since then. In this volume, he has undertaken the task of applying his knowledge of contemporary psychiatric research and his own clinical experience to the recently emerging cultural debate over the existence of God and the value of religion. Many of the authors involved in this controversy, such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, protagonists of an atheist perspective, as well as Francis Collins, who espouses Christian beliefs, are strongly opinionated. Vaillant, on the other hand, has weighed in on this topic in a thoughtful manner, which may be acceptable even to the more tendentious of these protagonists.
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