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The Faith Instinct

How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures

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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.

From Publishers Weekly

Oct 12, 2009 – 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.

Customer Reviews

About reviews

I have not read this book yet, but saw the above comment and just had to say something. First of all, these reviews are meant to be book reviews, and not a place to spout your own beliefs while degrading someone else's, not to mention insulting the author. You did not even read the book, and yet, wrote a review based on just the sample! It sounds to me that the only person whose ego has been lifted has been yours!

What the heck!

I read a little bit from the sample. I don't see were people get off saying that you can believe in evolution and religion. That is bs. The bible teaches otherwise and says God created man from the dust of the Earth, not from Apes. And if God created man and had a personal relationship with him at first in the garden that means religion did not evolve. The only thing religion has done is degraded. If your an atheist and wanna read stuff to help you ego I would deffinately recommend it. If your a normal human being who's brain hasn't evolved from their god, the ape, you can probably make your own informed decision.

Narrow and redundant

I think the first review was intended as a joke to get a reaction. No one with the ingenuity to search ebooks is dumb enough to be a religious nut and think there's a magic god. Relax. There's more proof of the theory of natural selection (which works through the fundamental reality of evolution) than there is that Napoleon existed.

The content of this book is nothing new. It's not "bad", it's just narrow, sophomoric, and western biased. This is based almost entirely on "Memes"--a concept that has dozens of better books already. There's strong evidence that cultural traits go through a process of natural selection just like our best current evidence says all living organisms do. This just adds western biased philosophy to the mix (religions of all kinds sprung up independently...the abrahamic religions are nothing special or unique...the American military even created a religion during WWII by accident--see John Frum...Smithsonian magazine had an articled called "In John They Trust" in Feb '06).

Philosophers are now called "physicists", because more guesses are just as useless as old guesses (ie religions). If you have a philosophical guess and you want to be useful, you go become a physicist and subject it to scrutiny and prove it's a useful guess (and you let others compare the evidence for their guesses to it in an academic environment to see who's closer to "correct").

I'd say skip this book and read some books on the genome and books about memes. If you want to read books undermining religious belief, which isn't even a sport anymore with what we can show through evidence, pick a book on that. Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Thomas Gilovich (especially his "How We Know What Isn't So") are better places to start with more airtight cogency.

I'll give this book a "meh" with a "look elsewhere" recommendation.

The Faith Instinct
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  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Social Science
  • Published: Nov 12, 2009
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
  • Print Length: 320 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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