In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion Hardcover – Oct 15 2002


See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
CDN$ 91.78 CDN$ 67.70



Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (Oct. 15 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195149300
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195149302
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 3.3 x 16 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 699 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,114,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"With almost 1000 references and discussions of most of human history and culture, from Neanderthal burials to suicide-bombers in the Palestinian anti-colonialist struggle, this book is consciously and truly encyclopedic in scope, and shows both breadth and depth of scholarship...the reader finds himself constantly challenged and provoked into an intellectual ping-pong game as he follows the arguments and the huge body of findings marshalled to buttress them...Atran managed to combine the old and the new by relating the automatic cognitive operations to existential anxieties. This combination will be a benchmark and a challenge to students od religion in all disciplines."--Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, Human Nature Review

"In Gods We Trust is by far the best exploration so far of the evolutionary basis of religious behavior."--James Fox, Prof of Anthropology, Stanford University

"Scott Atran, a cognitive anthropologist and psychologist, presents in this volume a rich, nuanced cognitive-evolutionary account of religion...From this vantage, religion is not doctrine, or institutions, or even faith. Religion ensues from the ordinary workings of the human mind as it deals with emotionally compelling problems of human existence, such as birth, aging, death, unforeseen calamities, and love...I have little but praise for this marvelous book...It does not take long to realize that one is dealing with a formidable mind; Atran is not only a fine writer, his breadth of knowledge and intellectual depth are nothing short of inspiring. This book is one to read slowly and savor. Keep a post-it pad handy, to mark the pages: the scope of this book is so wide-ranging that whatever your research interest in evolutionary psychology, it is bound to be touched upon at some point in these 400 pages of informative analysis."--Human Nature Review

From the Publisher

50 halftones & line illus.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Explaining religion is a serious problem for any evolutionary account of human thought and society. 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

4.0 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By "kawasocky" on Jan. 12 2004
Format: Hardcover
THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR THE THEOLOGICALLY SENSITIVE!
Atran describes religion as (1) a community's costly and hard-to-fake commitment (2) to a counterfactual and counterintuitive world of supernatural agents (3) who master people's existential anxieties, such as death and deception. Later in the book, he adds that 1, 2, & 3 lead to (4) they demand ritualistic & rhythmic co-ordination of 1, 2, & 3, such as "communion".
He later describes religion (paraphrased) as a thought process which involves the exaggerated use of everyday cognitive processes to produce unreal worlds that easily attract attention, are readily memorable, and are subject to cultural transmission, selection, and survival.
Then he asks, "How, in principal, does this view distinguish Mickey Mouse from God, or fantasy from beliefs one is willing to die for?"
While sprinkled with interesting and provocative comments, Atran tries to show that cognitive modules exist, thanks to natural selection. The tendency to invent supernatural agency is an evolutionary by-product, trip-wired by predator detection schema...people interactively manipulate the universal cognitive susceptibility. Add a few hopeful solutions to the problems involving the tragedies of life & death, and you get religion.
Alternate theories of religion's ability to sprout and fluorish wherever humans have lived for any length of time are discussed, and rejected. These include "memes for religion", "group selection" for religion, cultural entrees, and others.
While myriad types of gods have been invented, Atran maintains they all end up with the structure as outlined in the 1st paragraph of this review.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Oct. 1 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a review I found useful from the HUMAN NATURE REVIEW
Scott Atran, a cognitive anthropologist and psychologist, presents in this volume a rich, nuanced cognitive-evolutionary account of religion. Eschewing attempts to translate genes directly into behavioral propensities, group selectionism and memetics, Atran situates his project firmly in the emerging synthesis of cognitive science and evolutionary biology.
From this vantage, religion is not doctrine, or institutions, or even faith. Religion ensues from the ordinary workings of the human mind as it deals with emotionally compelling problems of human existence, such as birth, aging, death, unforeseen calamities, and love.
Religion is costly and its doctrines typically starkly counterintuitive. If one assumes that religion is an item that has been directly selected for, this entails a Quixotic quest to identify specific fitness enhancing features of religion offsetting its considerable costs, but if religiosity is an essentially non-adaptive consequence of adaptive features of human cognition, then we are free to look for the payoffs elsewhere: 'Religions are not adaptations and they have no evolutionary functions as such.' Atran regards religiosity as a phenomenon fed by several evolutionary sources. Religion, like other cultural phenomena, 'results from a confluence of cognitive, behavioral, bodily and ecological constraints that neither reside wholly within minds nor are recognizable in a world without minds' - the evolutionary landscape of the book's title - each defining ridge of which is constituted by a set of psychological faculties. One such influence consists of primary and secondary affective programs.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
Format: Hardcover
This book should be made part of any curriculum. It opens the eyes of readers on how religions were born and operate from
their origins until today. As religions become more and more a threat to societies all over the world this book would be a good stepping stone to move on to a more compassionate and human environement.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on Dec 14 2005
Format: Hardcover
A surge of interest in the evolutionary basis for religion has resulted in some fine works. Few, however, approach the careful analysis and depth of insight offered by Atran's excellent book. Asking the question, "Why do humans put so many resources into a counterintuitive supernatural world?", he responds that the answers fall easily into an evolutionary framework. He goes on to explain, in ten easy steps[!] how this circumstance has come about. The core of the presentation is what practices we follow are derived from normal, everyday behaviour traits. These traits are human cognitive ones, which makes their biological roots distant but traceable. The human mind, derived from the sudden expansion of cognitive abilities about fifty thousand years ago, put us in a unique position in the animal kingdom. Religion is the price we pay for being "special".
The "ten easy steps" are not. The astute reader may jump to the Conclusion for an outline of Atran's thesis. There he explains that religion is not an "entity", even though we publicly commit resources to it. Since it's not an entity, religion itself cannot be an evolutionary adaptation. However, it does fit into an "evolutionary landscape". That landscape he describes in a metaphor of hills and valleys, with certain behaviours following the path of least resistance. The supernatural, Atran contends, arises from a "cultural manipulation" of habits derived from the Pleistocene - fear of predators, death and the quest for nourishment. Since humans live in groups, the interactions of individuals within the group reinforces these habits. When natural phenomena are transformed into the supernatural conformity results.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.


Feedback