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

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

by John Teehan


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781405183819
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 05/03/2010
Series: Blackwell Public Philosophy Series , #20
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About 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 ix

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

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"This lucid and fascinating study explores religious ethics from the angle of evolutionary psychology, focusing especially on religious violence, including the terrorism of 9/11 and its militant response.
Even those readers who are skeptics of a sociobiological explanation for religion will find this intriguing book to be a thoughtful inquiry and a feast for the imagination."
Mark Juergensmeyer, author of Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence

"This is a thoughtful and sophisticated attempt to bring scholarship in evolutionary biology and cognitive psychology to bear on religious ethics. Building on a masterful synthesis of current work in the sciences, Teehan roots both the nobler, pro-social and the darker, more violent aspects of Christian and Jewish ethical teachings in the evolved psychology of in-group / out-group distinctions. Contrary to those who emphasize either the positive or the negative ethical aspects of these religious traditions, Teehan argues that the violence can't simply be excised as an aberation and instead suggests pragmatic strategies intended to moderate our tendency to favor our own group over others."
Ann Taves, University of California at Santa Barbara, author of Religious Experience Reconsidered

"John Teehan’s book will soon be recognized as a classic in several fields—it is a wonderful example of how to build successfully conceptual bridges across different disciplines, shortchanging none of them and contributing substantially to each of them. What a treasure Teehan is: few scholars write with such clarity across such an impressive range of disciplines. How fortunate that we have him to navigate us though historical and recent work investigating religion from an evolutionary perspective."
Todd K. Shackelford, Florida Atlantic University

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