In the Name of God: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Ethics and Violence / Edition 1

In the Name of God: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Ethics and Violence / Edition 1

by John Teehan
     
 

Religion is one of the most powerful forces running through human history, and although often presented as a force for good, its impact is frequently violent and divisive. This provocative work brings together cutting-edge research from both evolutionary and cognitive psychology to help readers understand the psychological structure of religious morality and the

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Overview

Religion is one of the most powerful forces running through human history, and although often presented as a force for good, its impact is frequently violent and divisive. This provocative work brings together cutting-edge research from both evolutionary and cognitive psychology to help readers understand the psychological structure of religious morality and the origins of religious violence. These insights are applied to both Judaism and Christianity, and their texts, to illustrate how our evolved mind shapes religious beliefs and influences human events.

Contrary to the popular belief that religious violence is a corruption of true religion, carried out by individuals who twist its teachings, Teehan argues that religious violence is in fact grounded in the moral psychology of religion. This controversial argument is illustrated with reference to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the response to the attacks from both the terrorists and the President.

In the Name of God represents a fundamentally new approach to the analysis of religion. By applying evolutionary psychology, we can gain a fresh perspective on religious texts, and a better understanding of their contradictions and complexities, essential to combating religious violence and promoting a more moral society.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781405183826
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
05/03/2010
Series:
Blackwell Public Philosophy Series, #19
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

John Teehan is Associate Professor of Religion at Hofstra University. He is the author of numerous articles on the impact of evolutionary studies on morality and religion, as well as studies on the philosophy of John Dewey.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Evolution and Mind 1

1 The Evolution of Morality 9

Setting the Task 9

The Moral Brain 15

The First Layer: Kin Selection 21

The Second Layer: Reciprocal Altruism 25

A Third Layer: Indirect Reciprocity 27

A Fourth Layer: Cultural Group Selection 32

A Fifth Layer: The Moral Emotions 36

Conclusion: From Moral Grammar to Moral Systems 41

2 The Evolution of Moral Religions 43

Setting the Task 43

The Evolution of the Religious Mind 45

Conceptualizing the Almighty 53

The Moral Function of Gods 62

3 Evolutionary Religious Ethics: Judaism 72

Setting the Task 72

Constructing Yahweh 74

The Ten Commandments: An Evolutionary Interpretation 80

Conclusion: The Evolved Law 101

4 Evolutionary Religious Ethics: Christianity 104

Setting the Task 104

Constructing the Christ 107

Setting the Boundaries: Christian and/or Jew? 114

The Third Race: Christians as In-Group 124

Putting on Christ: Christianity's Signals of Commitment 129

Loving Your Neighbor and Turning the Other Cheek 135

5 Religion, Violence, and the Evolved Mind 144

Setting the Task 144

Devoted to Destruction: Sanctified Violence and Judaism 147

The Blood of the Lamb 160

A Case Study in the Evolved Psychology of Religious Violence: 9/11 174

6 Religion Evolving 180

Setting the Task 180

Varieties of Religious Expressions 182

If There Were No God... 186

Religion, Ethics, and Violence: An Assessment 193

Responding to Religion, Ethics, and Violence: Some Proposals 202

Conclusions 215

Notes 220

Bibliography 243

Index 259

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