Hannibal Free Public Library

Fingerprints of God

Barbara Bradley Hagerty

February 18, 2010

In Fingerprints of God, award-winning journalist Barbara Bradley Hagerty delves into the discoveries science is making about how faith and spirituality affect us physically and emotionally as it attempts to understand whether the ineffable place beyond this world can be rationally -even scientifically-explained.

Hagerty interviews some of the world's top scientists to describe what their groundbreaking research reveals about our human spiritual experience. From analyses of the brain functions of Buddhist monks and Carmelite nuns, to the possibilities of healing the sick through directed prayer, to what near-death experiences illuminate about the afterlife, Hagerty reaches beyond what we think we know to understand what happens to us when we believe in a higher power.

Paralleling the discoveries of science is Hagerty's own account of her spiritual evolution. Raised a Christian Scientist, she was a scrupulous adherent until a small moment as an adult triggered a re-evaluation of her beliefs, which in turn led her to a new way of thinking about God and faith.

An insightful examination of what science is learning about how and why we believe, Fingerprints of God is also a moving story of one person's search for a communion with a higher power and what she discovered on that journey.  


  1. What does Barbara Bradley Hagerty have to say about spiritual experience?  Does she describe a real experience or a delusion?
  1. Are there realities that we can experience but not easily measure?  What do you believe or think?
  2. Does your consciousness depend entirely on your brain, or does it extend beyond?  What experiences have you encountered?
  1. Can we train ourselves to access another, spiritual realm? Is there life after death?
  1. Why do you think some people are more spiritual than others?
  1. What does Barbara Bradley Hagerty tell us about the search for a God gene and/or a God spot in the brain?  Why is it important for science to explore the brain this way?
  1. Are we hard-wired to connect with God?  What causes you to draw your conclusion?
  1. What conclusions does Barbara Bradley Hagerty draw about whether science can explain God?  Do you agree or disagree?
  1. In the Christian Science Monitor review, Gregory M. Lamb says the following, “The result is Fingerprints of God, a book that sails the roiling waters between religion and science and is unlikely to make quick friends among either evangelical Christians or those in the scientific community who conclude that God cannot exist.”  What do you think about the book?

Questions adapted from barbarabradleyhagerty.com, penguin.com, http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/Book-Reviews/2009/0519/fingerprints-of-god