In Gods We Trust

In Gods We Trust : The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion

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This is an attempt to explain the origins of religion using what we know about the evolution of cognition. A cognitive anthropologist and psychologist, the author argues that religion is a by-product of human evolution just as the cognitive intervention, cultural selection, and historical survival of religion is an accommodation of certain existential and moral elements in the human condition - elements that have arisen through more

Product details

  • Hardback | 364 pages
  • 178.3 x 229.1 x 27.7mm | 698.54g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 24pp halftones and 4 figures
  • 0195149300
  • 9780195149302

Table of contents

1. Introduction: An Evolutionary Riddle; Part 1: Evolutionary Sources; 2. The Mindless Agent: Evolutionary Adaptations and By-Products; 3. God's Creation: Evolutionary Origins of the Supernatural; Part 2: Absurd Commitments; 4. Counterintuitive Worlds: The Most Mundane Nature of Religious Belief; 5. The Sense of Sacrifice: Culture, Communication, and Commitment; Part 3: Ritual Passions; 6. Ritual and Relevation: The Emotional Mind; 7. Waves of Passion: The Neuropsychology of Vision; Part 4: Mindblind Theories; 8. Culture without Mind: Sociobiology and Group Selection; 9. The Trouble with Memes: Inference versus Imitation in Cultural Creation; 10. Conclusion: Why Religion Seems Here to Stayshow more

Review quote

"In Gods We Trust is by far the best exploration so far of the evolutionary basis of religious behavior."--James Fox, Prof of Anthropology, Stanford University"With almost 1000 references and discussions of most of human history and culture, from Neanderthal burials to suicide-bombers in the Palestinian anti-colonialist struggle, this book is consciously and truly encyclopedic in scope, and shows both breadth and depth of scholarship...the reader finds himself constantly challenged and provoked into an intellectual ping-pong game as he follows the arguments and the huge body of findings marshalled to buttress them...Atran managed to combine the old and the new by relating the automatic cognitive operations to existential anxieties. This combination will be a benchmark and a challenge to students od religion in all disciplines."--Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, Human Nature Reviewshow more

About Scott Atran

Scott Atran is a senior research scientist at the Institut Jean Nicod at the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris. He is also Adjunct Professor of Anthropology, Psychology, and Natural Resources and the Environment at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. A respected cognitive anthropologist and psychologist, his publications include Fondement de l'histoire naturelle, Cognitive Foundations of Natural History: Towards an Anthropology of Science, and Folk Biology. He has done long-term fieldwork in the Middle East and has also written and experimented extensively on the ways scientists and ordinary people categorize and reason about nature. He currently directs an international, multidisciplinary project on the natural history of the Lowland more

Rating details

213 ratings
3.99 out of 5 stars
5 34% (73)
4 40% (85)
3 20% (42)
2 3% (7)
1 3% (6)
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