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  • Published: 7 April 2022
  • ISBN: 9780241566565
  • Imprint: Penguin Audio
  • Format: Audio Download
  • RRP: $26.00

How Religion Evolved

And Why It Endures




A fascinating analysis of the evolution of religion from the internationally renowned evolutionary psychologist

Religion is both unique - as far as we can judge - and universal to humans. Our species diverged from the great apes about six to eight million years ago and since then, along with language, our propensity towards spiritual thinking and ritual emerged. How, when and why did this occur, and how did the earliest, informal shamanic practices evolve into the world religions familiar to us today? What is the evolutionary purpose of religion, and are some individuals more inclined than others to be religious?

Robin Dunbar, Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Oxford, explores these and other key questions, mining the distinctions between religions of experience - as practised by hunter-gatherer societies since the earliest human history - and doctrinal religions, from Judaism, Christianity and Islam to Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism and their many derivatives. Examining religion's origins, social function, the effects of religious practice or feeling on the brain and body, and its place in the modern era, How Religion Evolved offers a fascinating and far-reaching analysis of this quintessentially human impulse - to believe.

  • Published: 7 April 2022
  • ISBN: 9780241566565
  • Imprint: Penguin Audio
  • Format: Audio Download
  • RRP: $26.00

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Praise for How Religion Evolved

When one of the most creative, insightful, and versatile evolutionary thinkers of our time turns his scientific gaze toward religion, it is no surprise that he delivers a landmark book that completely reshapes our understanding of religious belief, experience, and practice. In How Religion Evolved, Dunbar not only raises fundamental questions that previous scholars of religion have ignored, he offers novel solutions in a comprehensive narrative that is as engaging as it is informative. A gifted scientist and writer has given anyone interested in religion a genuine gift

Richard Sosis, James Barnett Professor of Humanistic Anthropology, University of Connecticut

Dunbar's intellectual interests are far-ranging, and he is as sure-footed talking about human cognition as congregation sizes... How Religion Evolved is learned, readable and sweeping (in the best sense of that word)... Hard to argue with

Nick Spencer, Financial Times

Stimulating and hugely ambitious... A compelling intellectual workout. Dunbar offers a powerful central argument, an excellent survey of alternative theories and a wide range of vivid and illuminating examples... The story he tells is important to us all

Matthew Reisz, Observer

A book with impressive intellectual sweep

Clive Cookson, Financial Times

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