Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

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Penguin, Feb 2, 2006 - Religion - 464 pages
22 Reviews
The New York Times bestseller – a “crystal-clear, constantly engaging” (Jared Diamond) exploration of the role that religious belief plays in our lives and our interactions

For all the thousands of books that have been written about religion, few until this one have attempted to examine it scientifically: to ask why—and how—it has shaped so many lives so strongly. Is religion a product of blind evolutionary instinct or rational choice? Is it truly the best way to live a moral life? Ranging through biology, history, and psychology, Daniel C. Dennett charts religion’s evolution from “wild” folk belief to “domesticated” dogma. Not an antireligious screed but an unblinking look beneath the veil of orthodoxy, Breaking the Spell will be read and debated by believers and skeptics alike.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - GlennBell - LibraryThing

The author attempts to kindly encourage religious people as well as non-religious people to read his book. He spends a great deal of time trying to be pleasant and thoughtful of those who are ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Michael_Rose - LibraryThing

Daniel C. Dennett tries to remains as respectful and polite as he can, all while trying to take the idea of religion in purely logical terms. This attempt earned him nothing from his critics, but it's still a good read despite their lack of comfort with its writings. Read full review

Contents

OPENING PANDORAS
3
Some Questions About Science
29
Why Good Things Happen
54
Asking what pays for religion
69
THE EVOLUTION OF RELIGION
95
The raw materials of religion
104
Religion the Early Days
116
The Evolution of Stewardship
153
Now What Do We Do?
308
how can we home
314
What shall we tell the children?
321
Toxic memes
328
Patience and politics
334
Appendixes
341
Some More Questions About Science
359
The Bellboy and the Lady Named Tuck
379

The Invention of Team Spirit
175
Belief in Belief
200
Toward a Buyers Guide to Religions
249
Morality and Religion
278
Kim Philby as a Real Case of Indeterminacy
387
Bibliography
413
Index
427
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About the author (2006)

Daniel C. Dennett is University Professor, professor of philosophy, and co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. His books include From Bacteria to Bach and Back, Freedom Evolves, Consciousness Explained and Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, a finalist for the National Book Award.

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