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: 9781594515668
  • Publisher: Paradigm Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/28/2010
  • Series: Studies in Comparative Social Science
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (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

Preface and Acknowledgments ix

Chapter 1 Religion: What needs to be Explained? 1

Chapter 2 Previous Explanations of Religion 19

Chapter 3 Changing the Question 37

Chapter 4 In the Beginning: Ancestor Worship 55

Chapter 5 Totemism 71

Chapter 6 Myth 83

Chapter 7 Shamans 103

Chapter 8 Magic 121

Chapter 9 Divination 137

Chapter 10 Sacrifice: Voluntary Suffering 149

Chapter 11 The Killing of Witches 163

Chapter 12 Prophets and Modern Religions 185

Chapter 13 Conclusion 213

References 223

Index 237

About the Authors 253

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