Religion Explained

Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought
by Pascal Boyer 2001

About the Author
Pascal Boyer is Luce Professor of Collective and Individual Memory at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.

About the Book
Many of our questions about religion, says the internationally renowned anthropologist Pascal Boyer, were once mysteries, but they no longer are: we are beginning to know how to answer questions such as “Why do people have religion?” and “Why is religion the way it is?” Using findings from anthropology, cognitive science, linguistics, and evolutionary biology, Boyer shows how one of the most fascinating aspects of human consciousness is increasingly admissible to coherent, naturalistic explanation. And Man Creates God tells readers, for the first time, what religious feeling is really about, what it consists of, and how it originates. It is a beautifully written, very accessible book by an anthropologist who is highly respected on both sides of the Atlantic. As a scientific explanation for religious feeling, it is sure to arouse controversy.

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“A penetrating scientific analysis of religion.” — Washington Post

“An excellent book in the spirit of the French Enlightenment, which I am eager to see revived.” — E. O. Wilson, author of Consilience

“The first classic of 21st-century anthropology.” — John Tooby and Leda Cosmides, University of California, Santa Barbara

“The most important treatment of the psychological bases of religious belief…since William James.” — Steven Pinker, author of Words and Rules and The Language Instinct