Extended Audio Sample

Download The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures Audiobook, by Nicholas Wade Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.44 out of 53.44 out of 53.44 out of 53.44 out of 53.44 out of 5 3.44 (27 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Nicholas Wade Narrator: Alan Sklar Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2009 ISBN: 9781400183494
Regular Price: $20.99 Add to Cart
— or —
FlexPass™ Price: $12.95$5.95$5.95 for new members!
Add to Cart learn more )

For at least the last fifty thousand years, and probably much longer, people have practiced religion. Yet little attention has been given, either by believers or atheists, to the question of whether this universal human behavior might have an evolutionary basis. Did religion evolve, in other words, because it helped people in early societies survive? In this original and controversial book, Nicholas Wade, a longtime reporter for the New York Times's Science section, gathers new evidence showing why religion became so essential in the course of human evolution and how an instinct for faith has been hardwired into human nature. This startling thesis is sure to catch the attention of both believers and nonbelievers. People of faith may not warm to the view that the mind's receptivity to religion has been shaped by evolution. Atheists may not embrace the idea that religious expression evolved because it conferred essential benefits on ancient societies and their successors. As The Faith Instinct argues, however, both groups must address the fact, little understood before now, that religious behavior is an evolved part of human nature. How did we evolve to believe? Wade shows that the instinct for religious behavior is wired into our neural circuits much like our ability to learn a language. Religion provided the earliest human societies with the equivalents of law and government, giving these societies an edge in the struggle for survival. As a force that binds people together and coordinates social behavior, religion supported another significant set of social behaviors: aggression and warfare. Religious behavior, both good and ill will remain an indelible component of human nature so long as human societies need the security and cohesion that belief provides. Social scientists once predicted that religion would progressively fade away as societies advanced in wealth and education. They were wrong. The first objective and nonpolemical book of its kind, The Faith Instinct reveals that to understand the persistence of faith, one must first acknowledge that religious behavior is embedded in human nature. Download and start listening now!

beav

Quotes & Awards

  • A cornerstone of popular religion-and-science studies. Booklist

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ryan | 11/2/2013

    " Wade presents the idea that religion evolved biologically and culturally as an adaptive aspect of humanity. This book has many critics on both sides of the debate. Religious fundamentalists find his assertion that religion is a product of natural laws unsettling, while many non-theists find his assertion that religion is essentially an adaptive trait misleading. Religion is obviously not the product of a single genetic trait, and Wade fully acknowledges this; however, he does argue that a complex combination of genetic and cultural circumstances ultimately gave rise to modern religious practices and beliefs. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John P | 9/29/2013

    " Good book, well written... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Darla Stokes | 9/3/2013

    " The first half of the book, describing how and why religions evolved, was fascinating, engaging, and well-researched, with contradictory theories presented, and his reasons for preferring one over the other well-explained. The second half, describing his conclusions, was vastly less so. He dismissed studies backed up by evidence without either refuting those studies or providing evidence for his own counter theories. He also blatantly contradicted himself--for example, earlier in the book, he states that hell is a fairly recent addition to religion. Later on, he states that it's impossible for humans to be moral without a fear of hell and that those who don't believe in hell are only moral because of peer pressure from those around them who do. I would not be at all surprised to find that the book was written by two different authors. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Elizabeth Olson | 8/9/2013

    " Perhaps because it's an interest of mine and I do a lot of reading in this field, but despite the book's recent publication date (2010), this exploration of the evolution of an "instinct" for faith didn't grab me -- there wasn't enough here that was new to me to make it compelling. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robin | 7/27/2013

    " Religion explained in a context I can understand... biology and evolution! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Caffection Mariah Byron | 7/21/2013

    " Excellent reading for anyone who believes, does not believe, is in search mode or knows someone who is. Very balanced and highly believable book. You know you have an expert author when the premise can be taken as validation for left, right and/or middle. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dave Blickstein | 7/18/2013

    " Interesting material, but quite long and very dry "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 5/1/2013

    " An essential bridge between anthropology and religious studies, and should be read and discussed by both sides. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy | 3/29/2013

    " Religion has been genetically selected and is biologically based according to this author. War/Altruism are two sides of the same genone designed to promote social cohesion. It's crowd control. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kate | 11/25/2012

    " If it had gone beyond monotheism in its analysis I would have easily given it four stars. Highly readable. Most interesting analysis of origins of Islam I've ever read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kevin Saldanha | 5/8/2012

    " Interesting history of dance and singing in the evolution of religion. Wade confirms that faith in the supernatural evolved with intelligence and extended societies and was based on tribal religions that had limited knowledge of natural phenomena. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Martha | 4/4/2012

    " Morals and religion as evolutionary developments. Written really well "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Georgene | 2/15/2012

    " The author's premise is that we are hardwired to believe in some kind of spiritual life which gives us a sense of morality and group cohesion. I thought a lot of what he said about religion made a lot of sense. Fascinating reading! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jason Larimer | 1/11/2012

    " I liked this book up to about the point the author starts writing more about history than about genetics. Somehow- the parts about history seemed rather speculative and lacking in substance. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mac | 1/3/2012

    " Very interesting but got distracted by other books. Want to come back later (although probably not). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda | 12/28/2011

    " skimmed this one, basically states that religion followed the evolutionary path with human development - not sure all of the hard science evidence is here "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Catherine | 5/17/2011

    " I found the history of religion fascinating, though complicated and a little hard to follow in parts. I'd be interested in how this book is received by really religious readers, as religion is treated more as a human construct rather than a divine truth. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Wes | 4/13/2011

    " Clearly not a scholarly book. Wade's arguments are not thought through well and make sweeping assumption that fall apart with close exegesis. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Georgene | 9/18/2010

    " The author's premise is that we are hardwired to believe in some kind of spiritual life which gives us a sense of morality and group cohesion. I thought a lot of what he said about religion made a lot of sense. Fascinating reading! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jason | 9/7/2010

    " I liked this book up to about the point the author starts writing more about history than about genetics. Somehow- the parts about history seemed rather speculative and lacking in substance. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robin | 8/12/2010

    " Religion explained in a context I can understand... biology and evolution! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 A. | 7/29/2010

    " A good book. I have really enjoyed N.Wade's work in the past. This book has some great information on the potential historical etiology of various faiths. Unfortunately, it seems he all too often relies on the quote of an expert to make his point as opposed to a more sound factual source. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kate | 6/13/2010

    " If it had gone beyond monotheism in its analysis I would have easily given it four stars. Highly readable. Most interesting analysis of origins of Islam I've ever read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda | 6/4/2010

    " skimmed this one, basically states that religion followed the evolutionary path with human development - not sure all of the hard science evidence is here "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy | 4/24/2010

    " Religion has been genetically selected and is biologically based according to this author. War/Altruism are two sides of the same genone designed to promote social cohesion. It's crowd control. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 JoAnn | 3/10/2010

    " This is a very good book that gives some insight into the origins of faith.

    I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in how faith evolved. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Annie | 2/18/2010

    " Thoughtfully written, engaging book. I agree with a previous reviewer that one weak aspect is where Mr. Wade insists that all morality derives from, and only from religion. While I don't agree with that point of view, overall found the book to be a stimulating and enlightening read. "

Write a Review
What is FlexPass?
  • Your first audiobook is just $5.95
  • Over 90% are at or below $12.95
  • "LOVE IT" guarantee
  • No time limits or expirations
About the Author
Author Nicholas Wade

Nicholas Wade is a British-born scientific reporter, editor, and author who currently writes for the Science section of the New York Times. His book Before the Dawn received a 2007 Science-in-Society Journalism Award. Wade is the author of several other books as well, including The Ultimate Experiment, The Nobel Duel, Betrayers of the Truth, A World Beyond Healing, Lifescript, Before the Dawn, and The Faith Instinct. He was born in Aylesbury, England, and educated at Eton and King’s College, Cambridge. Wade received a BA degree in natural sciences in 1964.

About the Narrator

Alan Sklar, a graduate of Dartmouth, has excelled in his career as a freelance voice actor. He began narrating audiobooks in 1996, winning seven AudioFile Earphones Awards and earning several “Best Voice” awards. He has also worked as a stage actor and as a promo announcer at WPIX-TV in New York City. His dream is to be an opera singer, a role for which he hones his bass-baritone operatic skills in the upstairs shower of his home.