By Molly Worthen
Secular Americans’ worst fears have come true: there is now scientific evidence that evangelical churches brainwash believers. They don’t merely teach that Adam and Eve actually existed and that gay marriage is an abomination. They change the way their members’ brains work. But T. M. Luhrmann, a psychological anthropologist at Stanford, argues that this is not as insidious as it sounds. On the contrary, mental conditioning has a noble lineage in the history of religion, and even (or especially) in this modern age, it can help humans flourish. “When God Talks Back” explains how rational people living in the 21st century can believe that God speaks to them — and why the rest of us should take them seriously.