Science reporter Wade (New York Times) has written an intriguing case for religion and belief in "God" being wired into our human genetics, rather than being something that is learned. He asserts that we are born with a natural tendency to believe in a higher power or a system of religion much like our natural aptitude to learn a language. Religion provided early societies with the structures necessary to organize governments and systems of law. Wade chronicles the development of religious practices through the ages and shows how religion builds community, along with loyalties, and causes differences from place to place that are responsible for many conflicts and wars. Gathering input from numerous experts in their fields, he collects data to support the scientific and behavioral basis for religious thought being part of our physical and mental selves. Similar books that study this topic are Karen Armstrong's The Case for God and Lee Strobel's The Case for the Creator. VERDICT This book will be enjoyed by readers interested in cross-disciplinary studies among science, anthropology, and theology, presented accessibly. Both students and general readers may be interested.—Cynde Suite, Bartow Cty. P.L. Syst., Cartersville, GA\
A provocative account of the development of religion. People have been practicing religion for thousands of years, but they have been practicing morality even longer. In this probing work of science reporting, New York Times correspondent Wade (Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors, 2006, etc.) sheds light on what is sure to be a controversial new field of research in evolutionary psychology, genetics and anthropology. The author asserts that morality and religion are in fact products of evolution. Belief in a higher power and belief in doing unto others as you would have done unto you served important functions in humankind's development-providing social order and cohesion in the absence of law and government. The more order within early hunter-gatherer societies, the more likely the chance of survival and procreation. In simple, straightforward prose, Wade takes the reader on a tour of intellectual history, digressing occasionally to discuss new research into the hard-wired nature of religion-comparing it to language and the power of empathy-and to address such figures as Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins and others who have launched and influenced the so-called new atheism movement. After matter-of-factly presenting their stances, Wade writes that each seems "driven less by any particular evidence than by an implicit premise that religion is bad, and therefore must be nonadaptive." Such is the attitude and even-keeled tone even the most skeptical readers- believers and materialists alike-can expect from this highly intriguing new book. A turning point, and advancement, in the science-religion debate. Agent: Peter Matson/Sterling Lord Literistic
"Highly intriguing...In this probing work of science reporting, New York Times correspondent Wade sheds light on what is sure to bea controversial new field of research in evolutionary psychology, genetics and anthropology...A turning point, and advancement, in the science-religion debate."
"[In The Faith Instinct], longtime New York Times science reporter Wade deftly explores the evolutionary basis of religion. He draws on archaeology, social science, and natural science as he vigorously shows that the instinct for religious behavior is an evolved part of human nature...Wade's study compels us to reconsider the role of evolution in shaping even our most sacred human conditions."
"The Faith Instinct is a big winner! Its highly intelligent and much- needed narrative about why religions have proved essential to human success kept me engrossed from its beginning to its final pages."
-James D. Watson, author of The Double Helix
"There is so much...in this compact account, including cultural-evolutionary explanations of the three great monotheisms-enough, in fact, to make it a cornerstone of popular religion-and-science studies."
"It is a rare book that will be read as eagerly by religion's defenders as by its detractors. Building on his rightly admired Before the Dawn, Nicholas Wade has written just such a book."
-Jack Miles, author of God: A Biography
"As he did earlier for human prehistory in Before the Dawn, Nicholas Wade has delivered the most balanced and fact-based account available of a subject fundamental to human self-understanding. His scholarship is thorough, and his writing crystalline and exciting."
-Edward O. Wilson, author of Consilience and The Future of Life
"Instead of attacking or defending religion, as so many have done lately, the biggest challenge is to explain how we became the only religious primate. In a spell-binding and wide-ranging account, Nicholas Wade offers a natural history of religion and convincingly explains why the phenomenon is here to stay."
-Frans de Waal, author of The Age of Empathy
"Of all the recent books on religion, I believe The Faith Instinct is simultaneously the most complete, the most correct, and the most accessible to the general public. Wade tells an extraordinary story in which morality, community, and religion are three strands of the same rope. Free of jargon and partisanship, The Faith Instinct is full of fascinating and up-to-the- minute scientific discoveries."
-Jonathan Haidt, author of The Happiness Hypothesis
"With his new book, New York Times science reporter Nicholas Wade positions himself as a serious challenger to Steven Pinker for the title of Best Living Popularizer of the Human Sciences."
-The National Review