ISBN-10:
0199739013
ISBN-13:
9780199739011
Pub. Date:
03/18/2010
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Minds and Gods: The Cognitive Foundations of Religion

Minds and Gods: The Cognitive Foundations of Religion

by Todd Tremlin
Current price is , Original price is $28.95. You

Temporarily Out of Stock Online

Please check back later for updated availability.

Overview

Around the world and throughout history, in cultures as diverse as ancient Mesopotamia and modern America, human beings have been compelled by belief in gods and developed complex religions around them. But why? What makes belief in supernatural beings so widespread? And why are the gods of so many different people so similar in nature? This provocative book explains the origins and persistence of religious ideas by looking through the lens of science at the common structures and functions of human thought.

The first general introduction to the "cognitive science of religion," Minds and Gods presents the major themes, theories, and thinkers involved in this revolutionary new approach to human religiosity. Arguing that we cannot understand what we think until we first understand how we think, the book sets out to study the evolutionary forces that modeled the modern human mind and continue to shape our ideas and actions today. Todd Tremlin details many of the adapted features of the brain — illustrating their operation with examples of everyday human behavior — and shows how mental endowments inherited from our ancestral past lead many people to naturally entertain religious ideas. In short, belief in gods and the social formation of religion have their genesis in biology, in powerful cognitive processes that all humans share.

In the course of illuminating the nature of religion, this book also sheds light on human nature: why we think we do the things we do and how the reasons for these things are so often hidden from view. This discussion ranges broadly across recent scientific findings in areas such as paleoanthropology, primate studies, evolutionary psychology, early brain development, and cultural transmission. While these subjects are complex, the story is told here in a conversational style that is engaging, jargon free, and accessible to all readers. With Minds and Gods , Tremlin offers a roadmap to a fascinating and growing field of study, one that is sure to generate interest and debate and provide readers with a better understanding of themselves and their beliefs.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199739011
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 03/18/2010
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Assistant Professor in Philosophy & Religion, Central Michigan University

Table of Contents

Introduction
1. The Prehistoric Roots of the Modern Mind
2. The Architecture of the Modern Mind
3. Minds, Other Minds, and the Minds of Gods
4. Gods and Why They Matter
5. Gods and Religious Systems
6. Cognition and Religious Systems
Conclusion
Bibliography
Index

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews