Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Vous voulez voir cette page en français ? Cliquez ici.


or
Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
or
Amazon Prime Free Trial required. Sign up when you check out. Learn More
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Start reading Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon [Paperback]

Daniel C. Dennett
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 19.00
Price: CDN$ 13.72 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
You Save: CDN$ 5.28 (28%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.ca. Gift-wrap available.
Want it delivered Wednesday, September 3? Choose One-Day Shipping at checkout.

Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition --  
Hardcover --  
Paperback CDN $13.72  
Save Up to 90% on Textbooks
Hit the books in Amazon.ca's Textbook Store and save up to 90% on used textbooks and 35% on new textbooks. Learn more.
Join Amazon Student in Canada


Book Description

Feb. 6 2007
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.


Frequently Bought Together

Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon + The God Delusion
Price For Both: CDN$ 28.84

  • The God Delusion CDN$ 15.12

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought


Product Details


Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In his characteristically provocative fashion, Dennett, author of Darwin's Dangerous Idea and director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, calls for a scientific, rational examination of religion that will lead us to understand what purpose religion serves in our culture. Much like E.O. Wilson (In Search of Nature), Robert Wright (The Moral Animal), and Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene), Dennett explores religion as a cultural phenomenon governed by the processes of evolution and natural selection. Religion survives because it has some kind of beneficial role in human life, yet Dennett argues that it has also played a maleficent role. He elegantly pleads for religions to engage in empirical self-examination to protect future generations from the ignorance so often fostered by religion hiding behind doctrinal smoke screens. Because Dennett offers a tentative proposal for exploring religion as a natural phenomenon, his book is sometimes plagued by generalizations that leave us wanting more ("Only when we can frame a comprehensive view of the many aspects of religion can we formulate defensible policies for how to respond to religions in the future"). Although much of the ground he covers has already been well trod, he clearly throws down a gauntlet to religion. (Feb. 6)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

A century and a half after Darwin rattled religionists with his revolutionary theory of human origins, one of his disciples has intensified the challenge to faith by advancing an evolutionary account of religion itself. Weaving together research in anthropology, genetics, and psychology, Dennett argues that religion first emerged not as a divine gift but rather as a thoroughly natural adaptation for enhancing the reproductive success of the species. Even more provocatively, Dennett further argues that religion--like language--has subsequently evolved so as to ensure its own survival in the ceaseless winnowing of cultural mutations. The pious in most faiths will likely protest that this approach gives only the husk, not the spirit, of religion, but Dennett insists that his study will ultimately benefit society by exposing the myths that empower fanatical terrorists. Remarkably bold, Dennett's agenda includes plans for preventing overzealous parents from instilling their faith in their children and for deploying the technology of mass advertising to foster religious doubt. A book certain to spark heated controversy. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
You watch an ant in a meadow, laboriously climbing up a blade of grass, higher and higher until it falls, then climbs again, and again, like Sisyphus rolling his rock, always striving to reach the top. Read the first page
Explore More
Concordance
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
It is relatively easy to take a firm stance and not care about subsequent social divisiveness, while much harder to attempt understanding of the complexity of an issue, what is known and unknown, and discuss one's viewpoint in a manner that allows for, and stimulates, further discussion among rational people. Thus, Dennett uses caution in his investigation and does not propose to have all the answers, but he suggests some useful ways of thinking about how to get them (if it possible). Dennett realizes that there are good spells and bad spells, and at this moment it is hard to tell which one religion might be. There are two main spells discussed: (a) the 'don't even think about questioning religion' spell and (b) the belief in religion itself. As it is unknown whether religion is good or bad, the first spell must be broken. As for maintaining or rejecting the second spell, that is what we should try to figure out.
Using his broad, yet deep, knowledge about philosophy and biology, Dennett describes how traits that are more likely to be possessed by religious people could have arisen in our evolutionary past, as well as other aspects of ritual, belief, belief in belief and morality without religion. Do not expect a fully developed theory, but do anticipate a fully developed analysis of what kinds of theories currently exist and what kinds of theories we would likely want to pursue.
As a way of engaging the religious, I found two of Dennett's arguments particularly cogent:
(1) If your God has personally told you how the world is and how we should act, please tell the rest of us because He has not done that (yet) to the rest of us.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dennett's Dangerous Idea Feb. 16 2006
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Can religion be subject to scientific scrutiny? In this remarkable study, Dennett proposes that not only can religion studied be methodically, but that it should be. His suggestion will be stupefying to some, as he readily admits. Is your mind open to the notion that the vast repository of human values could be carefully examined? Then this book will provide many new paths for you to explore. He openly appeals to a wide audience, starting with his fellow countrymen. Dennett's ability to present complex issues, including those of social importance, in a clear and almost intimate manner should grant this book the wide readership he seeks.
The beginning chapter, "Opening Pandora's Box", reminds us that what was long considered inexplicable or mysterious can be revealed. He anticipates the criticism that "spiritual" things or "faith" aren't qualities that submit to analysis. The task, he acknowledges, is immense, but can be accomplished. Certain elements must be agreed upon, such as the definition of "religion". What we call religion, Dennett, contends, ought to exclude "spiritualism", fanatic devotion to secular items such as ethnic groups or idolizing sports figures. On the other hand religion is a dynamic and variable concept and tight demarcation is neither possible or desirable. Religion, then, is a social system incorporating supernatural agents that can reward or punish. Writers preceding him, such as Robert Atran, Pascal Boyer and Walter Burkert are acknowledged as good starting points. Dennett cites them often as contributors to his thinking. His distant, but highly influential, mentor is William James.
Although Dennett's atheism is well known, this book is anything but a call for the abolition of religion. Quite the reverse.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dennett's Gentle Attack on Religion Nov. 28 2006
By Oliver TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
If you're looking at this review, you've probably already read (or are considering reading) End of Faith by Sam Harris and/or The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. All three books state the case for reason and against religious faith. Breaking the Spell, however, takes a much softer approach. Harris and Dawkins do not care who they offend. Dennett tries to be gentle and polite. One would think that is a better approach, but that is not how it works out.

Perhaps Dennett is too gentle, or perhaps this argument is one that has to be made forcefully or not at all. In the end, Dennett's book has no audience. The religious won't read it, and won't be convinced. Harris and Dawkins may simply offend most religious people, but they may also convince a few. Atheists like me will prefer Harris and Dawkins.

In the end, this is probably Dennett's worst book. That is not an insult. Dennett is a brilliant philosopher and a wonderful writer. Consciouness Explained and Darwin's Dangerous Idea are two of the finest books ever written.
Was this review helpful to you?
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chewy. Nov. 21 2008
Format:Paperback
Daniel Dennett is a philosopher. While many good points are made, he tends to spend the first half of the book clearing his throat in preparation for the second half. There are many gems of thought found within the pages, but I had to force myself to finish the book as it is a bit of a dry and perhaps tedious read. It is a good addition to the arsenal against the bandwagon of faith, and many may enjoy it, but I have much prefered other works such as:

"Atheism explained" by David Ramsay Steele

"50 Reasons people give for believing in gods" by Guy P. Harrison

"Atheist Universe" by David Mills

"God is not Great" by Christopher Hitchens
Was this review helpful to you?
Want to see more reviews on this item?
Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Great book, no linking of footnotes
One star. No linking of footnotes is absolutely inexcusable in an ebook at this price point. What the hell, publishers? Read more
Published 16 months ago by J. B. Bell
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Atheism Book Ever!!!
Dennett takes a revolutionary approach to the already well studied atheistic viewpoints and gathers them altogether in an enjoyable and easy to follow argument against organized... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Marjorie Lynn Allen
1.0 out of 5 stars book cover on backwards
I haven't started reading the book so I can't comment on that but it arrived with the cover on backwards and it looks used or handled ????
Published 18 months ago by jwal
4.0 out of 5 stars An open-ended thought-experiment
First and foremost, for those delving into Daniel C. Dennett's book with preconceived notions of it being filled with anti-religious rhetoric, I hate to be the one to break your... Read more
Published on Sept. 18 2011 by Matthew Sanderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible
Many people have said that Dennett's book was the one that completely destroyed their faith in god.

This is an incredible book that should replace the bible. Read more
Published on April 26 2011 by OppressedAtheist
5.0 out of 5 stars Not as catchy as Dawkins, but equally necessary
While Dennett's book is not as much fun for the anti-religious or pro-atheist reader as those of Richard Dawkins, or even more so, Christopher Hitchens (the Glenn Beck of atheism),... Read more
Published on Sept. 16 2010 by fung0
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Human Book
What to add to the many excellent reviews already posted?

Not long before I read BREAKING THE SPELL I had lunch with a couple of friends who were exercised about the... Read more
Published on Sept. 21 2007 by Kirtland Peterson
2.0 out of 5 stars DENNET BUILTS ON AN OLD IDEA AND FORGETS HIS EVOLUTION...
Whether many may disagree, Evolutionary theory is the best scientific approach we humans have devised so far in order to comprehend and explain our existence. Read more
Published on Sept. 6 2007 by NeuroSplicer
5.0 out of 5 stars Religion is commonly believed to be a stablizing influence
Religion is commonly believed to be a stablizing influence in any society - but is it really? 'Why not subject it to scientific scrutiny? Read more
Published on Feb. 26 2006
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Look for similar items by category


Feedback