the illusion of gods presence the biological origins of spiritual longing

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The Illusion Of God S Presence

Author : John C. Wathey
ISBN : 9781633880757
Genre : Religion
File Size : 37. 52 MB
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An essential feature of religious experience across many cultures is the intuitive feeling of God's presence. More than any rituals or doctrines, it is this experience that anchors religious faith, yet it has been largely ignored in the scientific literature on religion. Starting with a vivid narrative account of the life-threatening hike that triggered his own mystical experience, biologist John Wathey takes the reader on a scientific journey to find the sources of religious feeling and the illusion of God's presence. His book delves into the biological origins of this compelling feeling, attributing it to innate neural circuitry that evolved to promote the mother-child bond. Dr. Wathey, a veteran neuroscientist, argues that evolution has programmed the infant brain to expect the presence of a loving being who responds to the child's needs. As the infant grows into adulthood, this innate feeling is eventually transferred to the realm of religion, where it is reactivated through the symbols, imagery, and rituals of worship. The author interprets our various conceptions of God in biological terms as illusory supernormal stimuli that fill an emotional and cognitive vacuum left over from infancy. These insights shed new light on some of the most vexing puzzles of religion, like the popular belief in a god who is judgmental and punishing, yet also unconditionally loving; the extraordinary tenacity of faith; the greater religiosity of women relative to men; religious obsessions with sex; the mysterious compulsion to pray; the seemingly irrepressible feminine attributes of God, even in traditionally patriarchal religions; and the strange allure of cults. Finally, Dr. Wathey considers the hypothesis that religion evolved to foster reproductive success, arguing that, in an age of potentially ruinous overpopulation, magical thinking has become a luxury we can no longer afford, one that distracts us from urgent threats to our planet. Deeply researched yet elegantly written in a jargon-free and accessible style, this book presents a compelling interpretation of the evolutionary origins of spirituality and religion. From the Hardcover edition.

The Illusion Of God S Presence

Author : John C. Wathey
ISBN : 9781633880740
Genre : Biology
File Size : 23. 87 MB
Format : PDF, ePub, Docs
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An essential feature of religious experience across many cultures is the intuitive feeling of God's presence. More than any rituals or doctrines, it is this experience that anchors religious faith, yet it has been largely ignored in the scientific literature on religion. Biologist John Wathey takes the reader on a scientific journey to find the sources of religious feeling and the illusion of God's presence. His book delves into the biological origins of this compelling feeling, attributing it to innate neural circuitry that evolved to promote the mother-child bond. Dr. Wathey, a veteran neuroscientist, argues that evolution has programmed the infant brain to expect the presence of a loving being who responds to the child's needs. As the infant grows into adulthood, this innate feeling is eventually transferred to the realm of religion, where it is reactivated through the symbols, imagery, and rituals of worship. The author interprets our various conceptions of God in biological terms as illusory supernormal stimuli that fill an emotional and cognitive vacuum left over from infancy.

God Is Watching You

Author : Dominic Johnson
ISBN : 9780190262310
Genre : Science
File Size : 71. 47 MB
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"And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die." The biblical story of the flood crystalizes--in its terrifying, dramatic simplicity--the universally recognized concept of divine punishment. For millennia human civilizations have relied on such beliefs to create moral order. People who commit crimes or other bad deeds, we are told, will suffer retribution, while rewards--abstract or material--await those who do good. This simple but powerful idea has long served to deter self-interest and achieve remarkable levels of cooperation. Indeed, as all societies seem to have found, these beliefs are so good at promoting cooperation that they may have been favored by natural selection. Today, while secularism and unbelief are at an all-time high, the willingness to believe in some kind of payback or karma remains nearly universal. Even atheists often feel they are being monitored and judged. We find ourselves imagining what our parents, spouse, or boss would think of our thoughts and actions, even if they are miles away and will never find out. We talk of eyes burning into the backs of our heads, the walls listening, a sense that someone or something is out there, observing our every move, aware of our thoughts and intentions. God Is Watching You is an exploration of this belief as it has developed over time and how it has shaped the course of human evolution. Dominic Johnson explores such questions as: Was a belief in supernatural consequences instrumental in the origins of human societies? How has it affected the way human society has changed, how we live today, and how we will live in the future? Does it expand or limit the potential for local, regional and global cooperation? How will the current decline in religious belief (at least in many western countries) affect our ability to live together? And what, if anything, will temper self-interest and promote cooperation if religion declines? In short, do we still need God? Drawing on new research from anthropology, evolutionary biology, experimental psychology, and neuroscience, Johnson presents a new theory of supernatural punishment that offers fresh insight into the origins and evolution of not only religion, but also human cooperation and society. He shows that belief in supernatural reward and punishment is no quirk of western or Christian culture, but a ubiquitous part of human nature that spans geographical regions, cultures, and human history.

Recognizing The Non Religious

Author : Lois Lee
ISBN : 9780191056659
Genre : Religion
File Size : 86. 56 MB
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In recent years, the extent to which contemporary societies are secular has come under scrutiny. At the same time, many countries, especially in Europe, have increasingly large nonaffiliate, 'subjectively secular' populations, whilst nonreligious cultural movements like the New Atheism and the Sunday Assembly have come to prominence. Making sense of secularity, irreligion, and the relationship between them has therefore emerged as a crucial task for those seeking to understand contemporary societies and the nature of modern life. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in southeast England, Recognizing the Non-religious develops a new vocabulary, theory and methodology for thinking about the secular. It distinguishes between separate and incommensurable aspects of so-called secularity as insubstantial - involving merely the absence of religion - and substantial - involving beliefs, ritual practice, and identities that are alternative to religious ones. Recognizing the cultural forms that present themselves as non-religious therefore opens up new, more egalitarian and more theoretically coherent ways of thinking about people who are 'not religious'. It is also argued that recognizing the nonreligious allows us to reimagine the secular itself in new and productive ways. This book is part of a fast-growing area of research that builds upon and contributes to theoretical debates concerning secularization, 'desecularization', religious change, postsecularity and postcolonial approaches to religion and secularism. As well as presenting new research, this book gathers insights from the wider studies of nonreligion, atheism, and secularism in order to consolidate a theoretical framework, conceptual foundation and agenda for future research.

Out Of Eden

Author : David P. Barash
ISBN : 9780190275525
Genre : Science
File Size : 83. 9 MB
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In this changing world of what is socially and politically "correct," polygamy is perhaps the last great taboo. Over the last thousand years, monogamy - at least in name - has been the default setting for coupledom and procreation in the Western world. And yet, throughout history, there have been inklings that "one-man, one-woman" is an uncomfortable institution for human beings. The consistently high rate of marital "cheating" by both sexes, plus the persistent interest in a variety of sexual partners - on the part of women as well as men - suggest strongly that monogamy isn't easy, and certainly isn't "natural," for either sex. Esteemed writer and evolutionary biologist David P. Barash tackles this uncomfortable finding: that humans are actually biologically and anthropologically inclined toward polygamy. Drawing on decades of research, Barash presents a remarkable array of scientific evidence from evolutionary biology and cross-cultural studies that guide the reader through the hidden impacts of polygamy on such crucial behavior as violence, parenting, sexual preferences, adultery and efforts at monogamy itself, along with mind-bending speculation about the possible role of our polygamous predisposition when it comes to human genius, homosexuality and even monotheism. But take heart, monogamists! Although our species has long been "out of Eden," this fascinating read is ultimately reassuring that "biology is not destiny."

The Devil You Know

Author : Elicka Peterson-Sparks
ISBN : 9781633881501
Genre : Christian conservatism
File Size : 54. 22 MB
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In this trenchant examination of Christianity s dark side, a criminologist argues persuasively that high rates of violent crime in the United States can be correlated with Christian conservative attitudes, especially in regard to social mores and politics. Of particular concern is Christian nationalism. Supporters of this movement argue that America was founded as a Christian nation and they work to install their fundamentalist brand of Christianity as the dominant factor in American political and social life. Far from being a fanatic outlier sect, this group is shown to have significant cultural influence, especially in the American South. Not coincidentally, the author suggests, the South also has the highest homicide rates. Noting the violent biblical passages often cited by religious conservatives, their sense of righteousness, their dogmatic mindset that tolerates no dissent, and their support for harshly punitive measures toward sinners, Peterson Sparks shows that their worldview is the ideal seedbed for violence. Not only does this mindset make violent reactions in interpersonal conflicts more likely, the author says, but it exacerbates the problems of the criminal justice system by advocating policies that create high incarceration rates. The author also devotes particular attention to the victimization of women, children, and LGBT people, which follows from this rigid belief system. While not resorting to a blanket condemnation of Christianity or religion as a whole, Peterson Sparks issues a wake-up call regarding conservative Christianity s toxic mixture of fundamentalism, authoritarian politics, patriotism, and retributory justice."

Weight Of Glory

Author : C. S. Lewis
ISBN : 0061950289
Genre : Religion
File Size : 62. 18 MB
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The classic Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis, the most important Christian writer of the 20th century, contains nine sermons delivered by Lewis during World War Two. The nine addresses in Weight of Glory offer guidance, inspiration, and a compassionate apologetic for the Christian faith during a time of great doubt.

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