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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, by Nicholas Wade Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (186 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Nicholas Wade Narrator: Alan Sklar Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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' 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.

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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. "

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