Why Gods Persist : A Scientific Approach to Religion book cover
2nd Edition

Why Gods Persist
A Scientific Approach to Religion

ISBN 9780415497626
Published October 29, 2009 by Routledge
272 Pages

USD $46.95

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

List of illustrations  Acknowledgements  Preface  1. Religion and science: the questions  2. Some background issues  3. What does it mean to say ‘I believe?'  4. What are gods like?  5. The development of beliefs  6. Why do people believe in gods?  7. The dynamics of belief and its relation to the social system  8. Narratives  9. Ritual: background considerations  1.0 The form and sequence of ritual: magic  1.1 The motivation and consequences of ritual  12. Moral codes: background considerations  13. Prosocial behaviour and reciprocity  14. Other moral precepts  15. Religious experience  16. Social aspects of religious systems  17. Why do religious systems persist?  18. Where do we go from here?  Notes  Bibliography  Index

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'Robert Hinde, the respected elder statesman of the science in which I was trained, is a passionate humanitarian, of mature wisdom and legendarily sharp intellect. Though no more religious than I am, he is penetratingly critical of the approach that I and others have taken, and we have to listen to him. He makes the convincing case that it is not enough to be against religion. Whether or not you call it a delusion (as I would, but he would be too polite), you have to understand its attractions and its motivations. Robert Hinde is superbly qualified to aid our understanding.' - Richard Dawkins, formerly Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science, University of Oxford