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Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon Paperback – Feb 6 2007

3.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1 edition (Feb. 6 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143038338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143038337
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 2.3 x 21.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #130,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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.

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