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Evolving God: A Provocative View on the Origins of Religion

Author(s): Barbara King

ISBN13: 9780385511049

ISBN10: 0385511043


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  • This cutting-edge book, with echoes of both Jane Goodall and Joseph Campbell, adds a fascinating new dimension to the debate about the origins of religion.

    The study of evolution has uncovered invaluable information about many aspects of human behavior and culture, from the physiology of our bodies and brains to the development of hunting, technology, and social groups. But an understanding of the intangibles of human experience, especially religion, lags far behind. Attempts to discover the source of religiosity through genetic analysis and neuroscience have so far yielded intriguing but incomplete insights. Evolving God represents an exciting breakthrough. Drawing on her own extensive investigations into the behavior of our closest primate relatives and the most up-to-date research in archaeology, anthropology, and biology, Barbara King offers a comprehensive, holistic view of how and why religion came to be.

    King focuses on how the Great Apes, our human ancestors, and modern humans relate to one another socially and emotionally, and she traces the growing complexities of communication throughout the course of evolution. She shows that, with increased brain capacity, the scope and nature of socio-emotional ties began with one-to-one relationships and expanded to group relationships (families and communities) and then to connections with long-dead ancestors, animal spirits, and higher beings. Her incisive, highly readable narrative takes readers from the earliest common relative of humans and apes (more than 6 million years ago), through the Neandertal period and the Stone Age, to the dawn of religion in early human societies.

    Evolving God explores one of the greatest mysteries in human history, the question of whether humankind is innately religious, and provides evidence that will have a tremendous impact on current debates about evolution, creationism, and intelligent design.

    Barbara King is Professor of Anthropology at the College of William and Mary. A biological anthropologist, she has studied ape and monkey behavior in Gabon, in Kenya, and at the Smithsonian Institutions National Zoological Park. She lives in Gloucester County, Virginia.
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Evolving God: A Provocative View on the Origins of Religion

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