Customer Reviews for

Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

Average Rating 3.5
( 34 )
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5 Star

(12)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(3)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Fascinating book!

This book is well written and thought provoking. I am a Christian, and never felt that the author was insulting or demeaning to any religion. I felt he made many good points, made many suggestions towards the study of religion as a natural phenomenon, and did so in an e...
This book is well written and thought provoking. I am a Christian, and never felt that the author was insulting or demeaning to any religion. I felt he made many good points, made many suggestions towards the study of religion as a natural phenomenon, and did so in an entertaining way. He challenges believers without degrading them.

posted by 14327116 on July 19, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

Longwinded and self-important

I read this book on the recommendation of a friend, and soon after had the chance to see Dennett in person at a lecture at Caltech. As another reviewer here reflected, I wanted to like this book, and have long been interested in some of the ideas its based on. Unfortu...
I read this book on the recommendation of a friend, and soon after had the chance to see Dennett in person at a lecture at Caltech. As another reviewer here reflected, I wanted to like this book, and have long been interested in some of the ideas its based on. Unfortunately, Dennett's circular logic and rambling writing (and speaking) style left me more frustrated than illuminated, and for someone who argues against unsubstantiated faith, I felt he left science far behind in many of his assertions. The topic itself is worth a second star, but I would recommend choosing another author.

posted by Anonymous on October 17, 2006

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2012

    Fascinating book!

    This book is well written and thought provoking. I am a Christian, and never felt that the author was insulting or demeaning to any religion. I felt he made many good points, made many suggestions towards the study of religion as a natural phenomenon, and did so in an entertaining way. He challenges believers without degrading them.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2010

    Very intellectually fulfilling

    This is the most intellectually fulfilling book on religion that I've ever read. If Dennet's writing seems too difficult at times, it's only because he condenses so many complicated ideas into so few pages. I found the passages on idea evolution (or "memetics") particularly interesting and deserving of further inquiry. Out of all the worthy books being written by atheists today, this is by far my first recommendation.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2013

    Not always an easy read, but a great book none the less.

    Not always an easy read, but a great book none the less.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2006

    Longwinded and self-important

    I read this book on the recommendation of a friend, and soon after had the chance to see Dennett in person at a lecture at Caltech. As another reviewer here reflected, I wanted to like this book, and have long been interested in some of the ideas its based on. Unfortunately, Dennett's circular logic and rambling writing (and speaking) style left me more frustrated than illuminated, and for someone who argues against unsubstantiated faith, I felt he left science far behind in many of his assertions. The topic itself is worth a second star, but I would recommend choosing another author.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2006

    Provocative and cutting edge

    Daniel Dennett has written what may turn out to be one of the most significant works on the religious phenonmenon offered as a point of departure. The book does not succeed at all levels and in all areas, but that is hardly a damning assessment, for what he does succeed in doing is to break down the wall that many religous authorities wish to construct around their faith--wishing to apply their morality to the secular world but remain immune from criticism from that world. Probably the most effective portion of the book concerns his investigation of unquestioning faith in the correctness of someone's moral teachings and the inherent immorality of this position--an argument at once shocking and effective. The book is a little weak at the end, particularly the last chapter, but his central thesis, that religion deserves our attention and study as a natural phenomenon using a scientific approach to explain its pervasiveness and whether it is good or bad for humankind is a strong one and one that he effectively proves, sometimes to the point of overkill.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 2, 2012

    A difficult read

    I think you'd have to be a philosopher or theologian to understand this--too much for me anyway. I"m over 100 pages in and find nothing much except questions--no explanations or understandings to glean from it.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Dissapointment

    This book was a bit of a disappointment for me. It fails as a "scientist seeks to understand God" book. I would sooner recommend Kenneth Miller's "Finding Darwin's God", which, unfortunately I could not find on this site. It is about a Christian sientist (a biologist) trying to meld science and religion as many have tried before. His writing style is good for laymen and laywomen who do not understand scientific jargon. Mr. Dennet was not so fortunate.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 29, 2008

    The Underlying Theme is Policy and Politics

    This is the first book that I have read by Mr. Dennett and let me say at the outset that I am thankful that there are authors like him that are willing to take the time to "circle" a subject and view it from several different scientific, sociological and anthropological perspectives. This book is not a harsh criticism of religion but an attempt, as I understand it, to foster a dialogue in order to determine what policies, if any, should be carried out in the future to curb potential threats from religious fanatics. I for one do not wish to live under a theocracy; I do not want to be told what to think - so here is where I must voice my concern regarding Mr. Dennett's references to making "policy" decisions: someone other than the individual or family would be making the call - making a value judgment for them. What is harmful, what is good and what is bad with regards to religion would all be decided by others. Policies and laws already exist - harmful behaviors have consequences. Where would the new "policies" end? Religion is not what I would call a "natural phenomenon" but only one of the many behavioral traits of the natural phenomenon known as the human animal. As I see it, the human mind is the last refuge - the place where one can dream and reflect, pray or meditate without outside interference - I think this is why there is such a reluctance by many (as Mr. Dennett notes)to even begin to try to understand why people believe what they believe.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2006

    A great idea in need of a better writing style

    While I appreciated many of the points raised in this book, the author's idiosyncratic writing style too often became a barrier to a clear understanding of what he was trying to convey. I think this topic deserves more attention, perhaps by an author less inclined to derail the reader in frequent asides and parenthetical side-trips. I REALLY WANTED to like this book, because I wholeheartedly agree with the premise. Perhaps I will glean more by selectively re-reading a section or two. It's a complicated subject, to be sure one that demands a writer who can stay on point. I found 'How We Believe' by Michael Shermer, to be a much better introduction to the state of current thought and study on this subject, though it's focus is slightly more narrow. In the end, I learned some new things, but I can't avoid the feeling that there was much more here that was simply hidden in the turbulent prose.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2012

    Kels

    Go to the nursery the babys r hingry

    0 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2012

    Kitty

    Have ya got et open yet jacob?

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2012

    Hikari

    "Um...Wolf, you never explained what the Trinity of the Seal is..."

    0 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2012

    Jacob

    That is worse then the idea i had.

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2012

    Kels

    How

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2012

    Wolf o all.

    My wedding is NOW. Go to greek love first resuly.

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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