Conceiving God: The Cognitive Origin and Evolution of Religion

Overview

A controversial exploration of the origin of religion in the neurology of the human brain.
In this book the noted cognitive archaeologist David Lewis-Williams confronts a question that troubles many people in the world today: Is there a supernatural realm that intervenes in the material world of daily life and leads to the evolution of religions?
Professor Lewis-Williams first describes how science developed within the cocoon of religion and ...

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Conceiving God: The Cognitive Origin and Evolution of Religion

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Overview

A controversial exploration of the origin of religion in the neurology of the human brain.
In this book the noted cognitive archaeologist David Lewis-Williams confronts a question that troubles many people in the world today: Is there a supernatural realm that intervenes in the material world of daily life and leads to the evolution of religions?
Professor Lewis-Williams first describes how science developed within the cocoon of religion and then shows how the natural functioning of the human brain creates experiences that can lead to belief in a supernatural realm, beings, and interventions. Once people have these experiences, they formulate beliefs about them, and thus creeds are born.
Forty thousand years ago, people were leaving traces in the archaeological record of activities that we can label religious, and Lewis-Williams discusses in detail the evidence preserved in the Volp Caves in France. He also shows that mental imagery produced by the functioning of the human brain can be detected in widely separated religious communities such as Hildegard of Bingen’s in medieval Europe or the San hunters of southern Africa.

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Editorial Reviews

The Midwest Book Review
“Endlessly fascinating… Gives countless insights… A must for any anthropology studies collection.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780500051641
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson
  • Publication date: 3/1/2010
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,101,144
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

David Lewis-Williams is Professor Emeritus and Senior Mentor at the Rock Art Research Institute, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He is the author of The Mind in the Cave, Conceiving God, Inside the Neolithic Mind, and Deciphering Ancient Minds.

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Table of Contents

Prolegomena Windows on the past and some of the questions they raise 11

1 A new way of thinking 23

2 From skies to species 49

3 A tale of two scientists 87

4 Explaining religion 115

5 Religious experience 139

6 Religious belief 161

7 Religious practice 184

8 Stone Age religion 207

9 Hildegard on the African Veld 232

10 God's empire strikes back 257

Epilegomena Of babies and bathwater 290

Notes 294

Bibliography and guide to further reading 301

Acknowledgments 315

Sources of illustrations 315

Index 316

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