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 : 20. 6 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 : 42. 54 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. 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 : 9780199895632
Genre : Fear of God
File Size : 60. 33 MB
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The willingness to believe in some kind of payback or karma remains nearly universal. Retribution awaits those who commit bad deeds; rewards await those who do good. Johnson explores how this belief has developed over time, and how it has shaped the course of human evolution.

Out Of Eden

Author : David P. Barash
ISBN : 9780190275525
Genre : Science
File Size : 76. 42 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."

And Man Created God

Author : Selina O'Grady
ISBN : 9781250016829
Genre : Religion
File Size : 72. 92 MB
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At the time of Jesus' birth , the world was full of gods. Thousands of them jostled, competed and merged with one another. In Syria ecstatic devotees castrated themselves in the streets to become priests of Atargatis In Galilee, holy men turned oil into wine, healed the sick, drove out devils, and claimed to be the Messiah. Every day thousands of people were leaving their family and tribes behind them and flocking into brand new multi-ethnic cities. The ancient world was in ferment as it underwent the first phase of globalisation, and in this ferment rulers and ruled turned to religion as a source of order and stability. Augustus, the first emperor of Rome (though he never dared officially to call himself so) was maneuvering his way to becoming worshipped as a god – it was one of the most brilliant makeovers ever undertaken by a ruler and his spin doctors. In North Africa, Amanirenas the warrior queen exploited her god-like status to inspire her armies to face and defeat Rome. In China the usurper Wang Mang won and lost his throne because of his obsession with Confucianism. To explore the power that religious belief has had over societies through the ages, Selina O'Grady takes the reader on a dazzling journey across the empires of the ancient world and introduces us to rulers, merchants, messiahs, priests and holy men. Throughout, she seeks to answer why, amongst the countless religious options available, the empires at the time of Jesus ‘chose' the religions they did? Why did China's rulers hitch their fate to Confucianism, a philosophy more than a religion? And why was a tiny Jewish cult led by Jesus eventually adopted by Rome's emperors rather than the cult of Isis which was far more popular and widespread? The Jesus cult , followed by no more than 100 people at the time of his death, should, by rights, have disappeared in a few generations. Instead it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Why did Christianity grow so quickly to become the predominant world religion? What was it about its teachings that so appealed to people? And Man Created God looks at why and how religions have had such an immense impact on human history and in doing so uncovers the ineradicable connection between politics and religion - a connection which still defines us in our own age. This is an important, thrilling and necessary new work of history.

Fighting Words

Author : Hector Avalos
ISBN : 9781615921959
Genre : Religion
File Size : 48. 83 MB
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Is religion inherently violent? If not, what provokes violence in the name of religion? Do we mischaracterize religion by focusing too much on its violent side?In this intriguing, original study of religious violence, Prof. Hector Avalos offers a new theory for the role of religion in violent conflicts. Starting with the premise that most violence is the result of real or perceived scare resources, Avalos persuasively argues that religion creates new scarcities on the basis of unverifiable or illusory criteria. Through a careful analysis of the fundamental texts of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, Dr. Avalos explains how four scarce resources have figured repeatedly in creating religious violence: sacred space (e.g., the perception by three world religions that Jerusalem is sacred); the creation of holy scriptures (believed to be privileged revelations of God's will); group privilege (stemming from such beliefs as a chosen people or predestination, which also creates a group of outsiders); and salvation (by which concept some are accepted and others rejected). Thus, Avalos shows, religious violence is often the most unnecessary violence of all since the scarce resources over which religious conflicts ensue are not actually scare or need not be scarce.Comparing violence in religious and nonreligious contexts, Avalos makes the compelling argument that if we condemn violence caused by scarce resources as morally objectionable, then we must consider even more objectionable violence provoked by alleged scarcities that cannot be proven to exist. He also examines the Nazi Holocaust and the Stalinist Terror, which have been attributed to the pernicious effects of atheism or secular humanism. By contrast, Avalos pinpoints underlying religious factors as the cause of these horrific instances of genocidal violence.This serious philosophical examination of the roots of religious violence adds much to our understanding of a perennial source of widespread human suffering.Hector Avalos (Ames, IA) is associate professor of Religious Studies at Iowa State University, the author of five books on biblical studies and religion, the former editor of the Journal for the Critical Study of Religion, and executive director of the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion.

Why Gods Persist

Author : Robert A. Hinde
ISBN : 9780415497619
Genre : Religion
File Size : 46. 32 MB
Format : PDF
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What is it about religion that appeals to people? Why do religions and religious beliefs persist in the face of increasing secularisation, harsh criticism and even political persecution? Robert Hinde argues that it is not enough simply to criticize religion, we must understand it - not only how it causes so much conflict, but also how it brings comfort to many. Hinde, a distinguished scientist, draws on a wide range of psychological, developmental and evolutionary research to explore this fascinating question. This second edition of Why Gods Persist is designed for everyone interested in the subject, either as a student of psychology and anthropology of religion or as a follower of the current controversies over the value of religious belief.

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