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Big DreamsThe Science of Dreaming and the Origins of Religion$
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Kelly Bulkeley

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199351534

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199351534.001.0001

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(p.271) Conclusion
Big Dreams

Kelly Bulkeley

Oxford University Press

The conclusion summarizes the book’s argument that dreaming is a primal wellspring of religious experiences, beliefs, and practices. Scientific research on big dreams shows that the naturalistic workings of the sleeping brain can generate extraordinary states of awareness, otherworldly visions, and startling creative insights. The evidence is strong that the neurocognitive architecture of sleep sets the stage for vivid and highly memorable dream experiences that many people find religiously meaningful. The book ends with reflections on a dream reported by Charles Darwin, the early theorist of evolution. Darwin’s bizarre dream of a failed execution offered a memorable vision of playful, transcendent heroism in the face of social and moral condemnation.

Keywords:   dreams, dreaming, big dreams, origin of religion, religious experience, science and religion, Charles Darwin, Darwin’s dream

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