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1 Beaverton Religion Western- General and Comparative Religion

The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures

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The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Noted science writer Nicholas Wade offers for the first time a convincing case based on a broad range of scientific evidence for the evolutionary basis of religion.

For at least the last fifty thousand years, and probably much longer, people have practiced religion. Yet little attention has been given, either by believers or atheists, to the question of whether this universal human behavior might have an evolutionary basis. Did religion evolve, in other words, beacause it helped people in early societies survive?

In this original and controversial book, longtime reporter for The New York Times's Science section Nicholas Wade gathers new evidence showing why religion became so essential in the course of human evolution, and how an instinct for faith has been hardwired into human nature. This startling thesis is sure to catch the attention of both believers and nonbelievers. People of faith may not warm up to the view that the mind's receptivity to religion has been shaped by evolution. Atheists may not embrace the idea that religious expression evolved because it conferred essential benefits on ancient societies and their successors. As The Faith Instinct argues however, both groups must address the fact, little understood before now, that religious behavior is an evolved part of human nature.

How did we evolve to believe? Wade shows that the instinct for religious behavior is wired into our neural circuits much like our ability to learn a language. Religion provided the earliest human societies with the equivalents of law and government, giving these societies an edge in the struggle for survival. AS a force that binds people together and coordinates social behavior, religion supported another significant set of social behaviors: aggression and warfare. Religious behavior, both good and ill, will remain an indelible component of human nature so long as human societies need the security and cohesion that belief provides.

Social scientists once predicted that religion would progressively fade away as societies advanced in wealth and education. They were wrong. The first objective and nonpolemical book of its kind, The Faith Instinct reveals that to understand the persistence of faith, one must first acknowledge that religious behavior is embedded in human nature.

Review:

"Taking up where he left off in Before the Dawn (2006), an engaging examination of human evolution in light of explorations in the human genome, longtime New York Times science reporter Wade deftly explores the evolutionary basis of religion. He draws on archeology, social science and natural science as he vigorously shows that the instinct for religious behavior is an evolved part of human nature because, like other human social traits that have evolved over many thousands of years, the practice of religion conferred a decided survival advantage to those who practiced it. Natural selection operates according to principles of survival and reproduction of offspring with heritable traits. Many of the social aspects of religious behavior offer advantages — such as internal cohesion — that lead to a society's members having more surviving children. More importantly, since religions have evolved as their societies have developed, is it possible, Wade asks, for religions to be reworked so that as many people as possible can exercise their innate religious instincts to their own and society's benefits? Sure to be controversial for its reduction of religion to a product of natural selection, Wade's study compels us to reconsider the role of evolution in shaping even our most sacred human creations." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

A New York Times science reporter makes a startling new case that religion has an evolutionary basis.

For the last 50,000 years, and probably much longer, people have practiced religion. Yet little attention has been given to the question of whether this universal human behavior might have been implanted in human nature. In this original and thought-provoking work, Nicholas Wade traces how religion grew to be so essential to early societies in their struggle for survival, how an instinct for faith became hardwired into human nature, and how it provided an impetus for law and government. The Faith Instinct offers an objective and nonpolemical exploration of humanity's quest for spiritual transcendence.

Synopsis:

Noted science writer Nicholas Wade offers for the first time a convincing case based on a broad range of scientific evidence for the evolutionary basis of religion.

About the Author

Nicholas Wade is a longtime reporter for The New York Times's Science section, which studies by the Times have shown is the most popular section of the paper around the country. Before writing for the Times, he was the deputy editor of Nature magazine in London, one of the world's most prestigious science publications, and a reporter for Science magazine, the world's premier science journal. He is the author or coauthor of five previous books. His most recent book, Before the Dawn, tells the story of human origins in terms of new insights from the human genome.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781594202285
Author:
Wade, Nicholas
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Subject:
Sociology of Religion
Subject:
Religion -- Philosophy.
Subject:
Christianity - General
Subject:
Life Sciences - Evolution - Human
Subject:
Religion & Science
Subject:
Biology-Evolution
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Series Volume:
How Religion Evolved
Publication Date:
20100928
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
8.54 x 5.6 x 0.68 in 0.6 lb
Age Level:
17-17

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Related Subjects

Religion » Western Religions » General and Comparative Religion
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Ethology and Animal Behavior
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Evolution

The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures Used Hardcover
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$9.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Penguin Press - English 9781594202285 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Taking up where he left off in Before the Dawn (2006), an engaging examination of human evolution in light of explorations in the human genome, longtime New York Times science reporter Wade deftly explores the evolutionary basis of religion. He draws on archeology, social science and natural science as he vigorously shows that the instinct for religious behavior is an evolved part of human nature because, like other human social traits that have evolved over many thousands of years, the practice of religion conferred a decided survival advantage to those who practiced it. Natural selection operates according to principles of survival and reproduction of offspring with heritable traits. Many of the social aspects of religious behavior offer advantages — such as internal cohesion — that lead to a society's members having more surviving children. More importantly, since religions have evolved as their societies have developed, is it possible, Wade asks, for religions to be reworked so that as many people as possible can exercise their innate religious instincts to their own and society's benefits? Sure to be controversial for its reduction of religion to a product of natural selection, Wade's study compels us to reconsider the role of evolution in shaping even our most sacred human creations." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,
A New York Times science reporter makes a startling new case that religion has an evolutionary basis.

For the last 50,000 years, and probably much longer, people have practiced religion. Yet little attention has been given to the question of whether this universal human behavior might have been implanted in human nature. In this original and thought-provoking work, Nicholas Wade traces how religion grew to be so essential to early societies in their struggle for survival, how an instinct for faith became hardwired into human nature, and how it provided an impetus for law and government. The Faith Instinct offers an objective and nonpolemical exploration of humanity's quest for spiritual transcendence.

"Synopsis" by ,
Noted science writer Nicholas Wade offers for the first time a convincing case based on a broad range of scientific evidence for the evolutionary basis of religion.

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