Tournament of Books 2015

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores

    Recently Viewed clear list

    The Powell's Playlist | January 19, 2015

    Ned Beauman: IMG The Powell's Playlist: Ned Beauman

    I did have a playlist that I listened to over and over again while I was writing Glow, but three years on I'm a bit bored of those songs, which got... Continue »

Qualifying orders ship free.
New Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Available for In-store Pickup
in 7 to 12 days
Qty Store Section
2 Remote Warehouse Religion Eastern- Philosophy General
10 Remote Warehouse Religion Eastern- Philosophy General

This title in other editions

Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon


Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

For all the thousands of books that have been written about religion, few until this one have attempted to examine it scientifically: to ask why—and how—it has shaped so many lives so strongly. Is religion a product of blind evolutionary instinct or rational choice? Is it truly the best way to live a moral life? Ranging through biology, history, and psychology, Daniel C. Dennett charts religion’s evolution from “wild” folk belief to “domesticated” dogma. Not an antireligious screed but an unblinking look beneath the veil of orthodoxy, Breaking the Spell will be read and debated by believers and skeptics alike.


An innovative thinker tackles the controversial question of why people believe in God and how religion shapes lives and futures by taking a look at history, philosophy, and psychology.

About the Author

Daniel C. Dennett is University Professor, professor of philosophy, and co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. His books include Consciousness Explained and Darwi‛s Dangerous Idea, a finalist for the National Book Award.

Table of Contents

Breaking The Spell Preface


1. Breaking Which Spell?

1. What's going on?

2. A working definition of religion

3. To break or not to break

4. Peering into the abyss

5. Religion as a natural phenomenon

2. Some Quesions About Science

1. Can science study religion?

2. Should science study religion?

3. Might music be bad for you?

4. Would neglect be more benign?

3. Why Good Things Happen

1. Bringing out the best

2. Cui bono?

3. Asking what pays for religion

4. A Martian's list of theories


4. The Roots of Religion

1. The births of religions

2. The raw materials of religion

3. How Nature deals with the problem of other minds

5. Religion, the Early Days

1. Too many agents: competition for rehearsal space

2. Gods as intersted parties

3. Getting the gods to speak to us

4. Shamans as hypnotists

5. Memory-engineering devices in oral cultures

6. The Evolution of Stewardship

1. The music of religion

2. Folk religion as practical know-how

3. Creeping reflection and the birth of secrecy in religion

4. The domestication of religions

7. The Invention of Team Spirit

1. A path paved with good intentions

2. The ant colony and the corporation

3. The growth market in religion

4. A God you can talk to

8. Belief in Belief

1. You better believe it

2. God as intentional object

3. The division of doxastic labor

4. The lowest common denominator?

5. Beliefs designed to be professed

6. Lessons from Lebanon: the strange cases of the Druze and Kim Philby

7. Does God exist?


9. Toward a Buyer's Guide to Religions

1. For the love of God

2. The academic smoke screen

3. Why does it matter what you believe?

4. What can your religion do for you?

10. Morality and Religion

1. Does religion make us moral?

2. Is religion what gives meaning to your life?

3. What can we say about sacred values?

4. Bless my soul: spirituality and selfishness

11. Now What Do We Do?

1. Just a theory

2. Some avenues to explore: how can we home in on religious conviction?

3. What shall we tell the children?

4. Toxic memes

5. Patience and politics


A. The New Replicators?

B. Some More Questions About Science

C. The Bellboy and the Lady Named Tuck

D. Kim Philby as a Real Case of Indeterminacy of Radical Interpretation




Product Details

Dennett, Daniel C.
Penguin Books
Daniel C. Denne
Philosophy & Social Aspects
Religion & Science
Religion Eastern-Philosophy General
Edition Description:
Mass Market
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 12
8.33x5.70x1.01 in. .94 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

Other books you might like

  1. The End of Faith: Religion, Terror &...
    Used Book Club Paperback $5.50
  2. The God Delusion
    Used Trade Paper $7.95
  3. Letter to a Christian Nation
    Used Hardcover $7.95
  4. God Is Not Great: How Religion...
    Used Trade Paper $7.95
  5. Six Ways of Atheism New Logical Disproof Used Trade Paper $2.25
  6. How to Be a Good Atheist Used Hardcover $6.95

Related Subjects

Humanities » Philosophy » Atheism and Humanism
Humanities » Philosophy » General
Reference » Science Reference » Philosophy of Science
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Religion » Eastern Religions » Philosophy General
Religion » Western Religions » General and Comparative Religion
Religion » World Religions » Religion and Science

Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$18.00 In Stock
Product details 464 pages Penguin Books - English 9780143038337 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , An innovative thinker tackles the controversial question of why people believe in God and how religion shapes lives and futures by taking a look at history, philosophy, and psychology.
  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at