Re: _Religion Explained_ by Pascal Boyer

From: Ray Recchia (
Date: Sun 01 Jun 2003 - 13:34:33 GMT

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    At 12:46 AM 6/1/2003 -0400, you wrote:

    >Perhaps this book has been mentioned here before, but I don't see any sign
    >of it.
    >I am in the process of reading it right now. There are a bunch of reviews
    >of the book, a good fraction of them scathing, a few like this. It is a
    >work most congenial to memetics.
    >Keith Henson
    >Across the globe and throughout history, human beings have engaged in a
    >variety of religious practices and have held a diversity of religious
    >beliefs. These phenomena have been explained in a variety of different
    >ways by anthropologists, psychologists, and other scholars, as well as by
    >religious practitioners themselves, with varying degrees of success.
    >Perhaps more puzzling, and just in need of an explanation, is the fact
    >that human beings have religion in the first place. According to Boyer, it
    >is only now, with recent contributions of the cognitive and neural
    >sciences and evolutionary biology to the understanding of the nature and
    >origins of the human mind, that we are in position to successfully provide
    >such an explanation. Religion Explained attempts just such an explanation,
    >drawing on cutting edge research in a variety fields and Boyer's own
    >fieldwork experience. Religion, Boyer suggests, is a by-product of the way
    >our minds evolved to negotiate the natural and, more importantly, the
    >social world. Boyer's naturalistic and cognitivist approach is at variance
    >with many established traditions in the study of the religion and his
    >approach may seem wrong-headed to many. Be that as it may, he has produced
    >a challenging and thought-provoking book, containing many insights that
    >transcend what some might see as the limitations of his approach.

    Sounds like a good companion piece to "Darwin's Cathedral".

      Incidently, here's a link to a program David Sloan Wilson is offering in the fall at the university near where I work. I think I might audit it.

    Ray Recchia

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