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The Supernatural and Natural Selection: Religion and Evolutionary Success

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Overview

Spanning many different epochs and varieties of religious experience, this book develops a new approach to religion and its role in human history. The authors look across a range of religious phenomena-from ancestor worship to totemism, shamanism, and worldwide modern religions-to offer a new explanation of the evolutionary success of religious behaviors. Their book is more empirical and verifiable than most previous books on evolution and religion because they develop an approach that removes guesswork about beliefs in the supernatural, focusing instead on the behaviors of individuals. The result is a pioneering look at how and why natural selection has favored religious behaviors throughout history.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594515651
  • Publisher: Paradigm Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/2008
  • Series: Studies in Comparative Social Science
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Lyle B. Steadman is Professor of human evolution and social change at Arizona State University.

Craig T. Palmer is Assistant Professor of anthropology at the University of Missouri–Columbia and coauthor of A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion (MIT Press 2001).

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Religion: What Needs to Be Explained? 1

Ch. 2 Previous Explanations of Religion 19

Ch. 3 Changing the Question 37

Ch. 4 In the Beginning: Ancestor Worship 55

Ch. 5 Totemism 71

Ch. 6 Myth 83

Ch. 7 Shamans 103

Ch. 8 Magic 121

Ch. 9 Divination 137

Ch. 10 Sacrifice: Voluntary Suffering 149

Ch. 11 The Killing of Witches 163

Ch. 12 Prophets and Modern Religions 185

Ch. 13 Conclusion 213

References 223

Index 237

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