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Religions and mythologies from around the world teach that God or gods created humans Atheist humanist and materialist critics meanwhile have attempted to turn theology on its head claiming that religion is a human invention In this book E Fuller Torrey draws on cutting edge neuroscience research to propose a startling answer to the ultimate uestion Evolving Brains Emerging Gods locates the origin of gods within the human brain arguing that religious belief is a by product of evolutionBased on an idea originally p. An utterly fascinating absorbing account of the cognitive development of man leading to the origins of religion Over the last 200000 years the human brain has gone through stages of development which can be compared with the development of a child s brain in the first few years of life What took homo sapiens 160000 or so years takes a child 6 or 7 years Around 40000 years ago we became capable of autobiographical memory that is the ability to project ourselves forwards and backwards in time We became able to predict future events with some accuracy allowing us to plan ahead skilfully It was at this stage in our evolution that we began to comprehend fully the inevitability of death and most likely to develop a fear of deathThe acuisition of what is termed autobiographical memory together with the simultaneous development of other cognitive skills led to the agricultural revolution of around 10000 years ago Communal living and working as opposed to a nomadic lifestyle led to a dramatic increase in population A settled life meant that the dead could be buried next to the living and so ancestor worship became increasingly important and elaborateBy 6500 years ago as civilisation progressed and the world population increased a few important ancestors crossed a line and became gods Political leaders soon recognised their usefulness and deployed them beyond the original focus on life and death to be instrumental in secular life to help with wars and to cast judgement for example In Mesopotamia around 4500 years ago the world s first civilisation gods were anthropomorphised to a level where they behaved like the later Greek gods who had their origins here They behaved like humans but with supernatural powers They ate and drank fell in love and got married had children and all their needs were taken care of in the temples where they were given food and drink were clothed and entertained The world s first civilisation was firmly built on religious foundations that eventually pervaded every aspect of cultural social and political life Remarkably parallel developments can be seen across the civilised world at this time from Mesopotamia to Europe to the Indus Valley to China and beyond The evolutionary theory of the creation of gods presented in this book isn t new It was first proposed by Charles Darwin The explanation given here however clearly explains cognitive development in physical terms in a way that even a non scientist like myself can easily follow and actually enjoy learning about it The social and cultural aspects of development are absorbing and have given me an almost completely new perspective on our origins Finally the last chapters look at comparative theories of religion and a summary highlights the key points that all religions in the major civilisations have shared 1 An answer to the problem of death God provided immortality eternal life2 Psychological and social benefits from group membership3 The sacred and the secular have usually developed hand in hand For example in Mesopotamia the temples of the gods controlled the workshops and the trade on which the economy was built Political leaders aligned themselves with gods often claiming divine status themselves4 The success of emerging religions is dependent upon the economic political or military success of their adherents eg Christianity through Rome Buddhism through Ashoka5 New religions borrow gods and religious ideas from older religions The Judeo Christian religion is based on Mesopotamian religion from which it took the Great Flood the Tower of Babel and the creation of man and Zoroastrianism with its all powerful Ahura Mazda and its belief in saviours three of which were to be born of virgins and the last of which was to appear on the Day of JudgementTo this day a belief in gods has continued to be one of modern homo sapiens defining characteristics For thousands of years now gods have provided explanations for natural phenomena and answers to philosophical uestions Why does religion have such a stranglehold over our species The answer is given that we are not only clever aware empathic and self reflective we also have an autobiographical memory that allows us to integrate our past as we contemplate our future This has made us in the words of Karen Armstrong homo religiosusThanks to NetGalley and Columbia University Press for an ARC Demons, Yes--But Thank God for Good Angels propose a startling answer to the ultimate uestion Evolving Brains Emerging Gods locates the origin of gods within the human brain arguing that religious belief is a by The Pride and Prejudice Movie Cookbook product of evolutionBased on an idea originally Vietnam Perkasie p. An utterly fascinating absorbing account of the cognitive development of man leading to the origins of religion Over the last 200000 years the human brain has gone through stages of development which can be compared with the development of a child s brain in the first few years of life What took homo sapiens 160000 or so years takes a child 6 or 7 years Around 40000 years ago we became capable of autobiographical memory that is the ability to Losing Strength and Dexterity predict future events with some accuracy allowing us to Afghanistan plan ahead skilfully It was at this stage in our evolution that we began to comprehend fully the inevitability of death and most likely to develop a fear of deathThe acuisition of what is termed autobiographical memory together with the simultaneous development of other cognitive skills led to the agricultural revolution of around 10000 years ago Communal living and working as opposed to a nomadic lifestyle led to a dramatic increase in The Black Sheeps Secret Child population A settled life meant that the dead could be buried next to the living and so ancestor worship became increasingly important and elaborateBy 6500 years ago as civilisation The Billionaires Desire progressed and the world After the Flood population increased a few important ancestors crossed a line and became gods Political leaders soon recognised their usefulness and deployed them beyond the original focus on life and death to be instrumental in secular life to help with wars and to cast judgement for example In Mesopotamia around 4500 years ago the world s first civilisation gods were anthropomorphised to a level where they behaved like the later Greek gods who had their origins here They behaved like humans but with supernatural Trust in Tomorrow powers They ate and drank fell in love and got married had children and all their needs were taken care of in the temples where they were given food and drink were clothed and entertained The world s first civilisation was firmly built on religious foundations that eventually After the Flood political life Remarkably Bronxwood parallel developments can be seen across the civilised world at this time from Mesopotamia to Europe to the Indus Valley to China and beyond The evolutionary theory of the creation of gods NAKED ANIME GIRLS 3 presented in this book isn t new It was first Acquiring the Mind of Christ proposed by Charles Darwin The explanation given here however clearly explains cognitive development in The Internal Magic of Activision Dragster physical terms in a way that even a non scientist like myself can easily follow and actually enjoy learning about it The social and cultural aspects of development are absorbing and have given me an almost completely new The Purple Headed Mountain problem of death God Stone Circles of Britain provided immortality eternal life2 Psychological and social benefits from group membership3 The sacred and the secular have usually developed hand in hand For example in Mesopotamia the temples of the gods controlled the workshops and the trade on which the economy was built Political leaders aligned themselves with gods often claiming divine status themselves4 The success of emerging religions is dependent upon the economic Blue leader political or military success of their adherents eg Christianity through Rome Buddhism through Ashoka5 New religions borrow gods and religious ideas from older religions The Judeo Christian religion is based on Mesopotamian religion from which it took the Great Flood the Tower of Babel and the creation of man and Zoroastrianism with its all The Queen Con (The Golden Arrow powerful Ahura Mazda and its belief in saviours three of which were to be born of virgins and the last of which was to appear on the Day of JudgementTo this day a belief in gods has continued to be one of modern homo sapiens defining characteristics For thousands of years now gods have The Rite provided explanations for natural Black Popular Culture phenomena and answers to HEG (HISTORIA DE ESPAÑA) BACHARELATO AULA 3D: Historia De España. Galicia: 000001 - 9788468236377 philosophical uestions Why does religion have such a stranglehold over our species The answer is given that we are not only clever aware empathic and self reflective we also have an autobiographical memory that allows us to integrate our The Lunch Ladies past as we contemplate our future This has made us in the words of Karen Armstrong homo religiosusThanks to NetGalley and Columbia University Press for an ARC

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Evolving Brains Emerging Gods

Ing belief in an alternative to death Torrey details the neurobiological seuence that explains why the gods appeared when they did connecting archaeological findings including clothing art farming and urbanization to cognitive developments This book does not dismiss belief but rather presents religious belief as an inevitable outcome of brain evolution Providing clear and accessible explanations of evolutionary neuroscience Evolving Brains Emerging Gods will shed new light on the mechanics of our deepest mysteries. This is a strong case for the evolutionary origin of religion ie that gods came about as a result of humans developing brains Here Torrey points toward the acuisition of autobiographical memory and the awareness of death I now understand clearly why I wasn t wild about Nicholas Wade s argument in The Faith Instinct How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures IMO Wade overemphasizes the social and narrowly prosocial benefits of religion Those social benefits may have given believing humans somewhat of an evolutionary advantage but even if they did I don t think they are the ORIGIN of religious belief And religiosity can just as easily be argued to be a negative thing for humankind So I m firmly in the religion is an evolutionary BYPRODUCT not necessarily adaptive campThe book is current 2017 and very readable However while it s a good overview of the subject it s not particularly original Torrey pretty much regurgitates Pascal Boyer Scott Atran Richard Dawkins et al If you re willing to really go deep you could dive into Religion Explained The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought Daniel Dennett also covers the evolutionary origins of religion in part of his Breaking the Spell Religion as a Natural Phenomenon but both Boyer and Dennett are so damn dry You might do just as well to read Michael Shermer s work on patternicity and agenticity in The Believing Brain From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths I think those cognitive systems or cognitive mechanisms are really important and Torrey does not address them Haute Chinese Cuisine from the Kitchen of Wakiya presents religious belief as an inevitable outcome of brain evolution Providing clear and accessible explanations of evolutionary neuroscience Evolving Brains Emerging Gods will shed new light on the mechanics of our deepest mysteries. This is a strong case for the evolutionary origin of religion ie that gods came about as a result of humans developing brains Here Torrey Twisted points toward the acuisition of autobiographical memory and the awareness of death I now understand clearly why I wasn t wild about Nicholas Wade s argument in The Faith Instinct How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures IMO Wade overemphasizes the social and narrowly The Exploration of the Male Anatomy prosocial benefits of religion Those social benefits may have given believing humans somewhat of an evolutionary advantage but even if they did I don t think they are the ORIGIN of religious belief And religiosity can just as easily be argued to be a negative thing for humankind So I m firmly in the religion is an evolutionary BYPRODUCT not necessarily adaptive campThe book is current 2017 and very readable However while it s a good overview of the subject it s not All Night Long (Nannies, pretty much regurgitates Pascal Boyer Scott Atran Richard Dawkins et al If you re willing to really go deep you could dive into Religion Explained The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought Daniel Dennett also covers the evolutionary origins of religion in The Freeze-Frame Revolution patternicity and agenticity in The Believing Brain From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths I think those cognitive systems or cognitive mechanisms are really important and Torrey does not address them

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Roposed by Charles Darwin Torrey marshals evidence that the emergence of gods was an incidental conseuence of several evolutionary factors Using data ranging from ancient skulls and artifacts to brain imaging primatology and child development studies this book traces how new cognitive abilities gave rise to new behaviors For instance autobiographical memory the ability to project ourselves backward and forward in time gave Homo sapiens a competitive advantage However it also led to comprehension of mortality spurr. One of the benefits of deciding to reuest books from NetGalley is that it exposes me to academic science writing than I might otherwise find Thanks to Columbia University Press for letting me read this I m really fascinated by the study of religion from a sociological and anthropological perspective I love to learn about the history of religions and also about how we know what we know Evolving Brains Emerging Gods looks at the origins of gods in the sense of anthropomorphic beings with discrete identities and roles from the perspective of evolutionary neuroscience E Fuller Torrey traces the cognitive development of the human brain over time and attempts to link the advent of specific capabilities increased intelligence self awareness theory of mind introspection and autobiographical memory to the development of the concept of gods The result is an interesting mixture of evolution cognitive neuroscience and religious anthropology although it s probably heavier on the first twoDiscussion of religion aside I found this book very clearly debunks some of the myths and pitfalls that crop up when thinking as a lay person about evolution For example during the introduction Torrey explains that when discussing when certain cognitive developments occurred is always going to be a vague thingArguing that a specific cognitive skill is associated with a specific stage of hominin evolution of course does not mean that this skill developed only at that timeEvolution doesn t have clear dividing lines Torrey reminds us throughout the book that our record is scattered incomplete and biased in terms of what types of materials are likely to be preserved and where we are likely to find them The study of evolution and human prehistory then is fraught with all the complications that this imperfect picture of the past must create Ultimately we have to accept that there are some things we just may never know for certain even if we can come up with a few very compelling albeit competing theoriesI also like how Torrey nudges us away from the simplistic picture of the evolutionary ladder For those of us fortunate enough to actually learn about evolution in schools sometimes we get the mistaken impression that it was a discrete and one dimensional progression from Australopithecus to H habilis to H erectus and so on And indeed at one point this might have been the thinking but science changes even as our schools and textbooks are slow to adaptPreviously it was thought that Homo erectus had descended from Homo habilis but recent archeological research suggests that Homo habilis and Homo erectus lived side by side in what is now northern Kenya for almost half a million years making this evolutionary seuence less likelyAdditionally Torrey does a good job communicating the impressive spans of time at work here H habilis and H erectus lived side by side for 500000 years That s longer than we ve been around as a species and about 100 times longer than we ve had writingOn a related note you really do get a sense of how human development seems to have accelerated dramatically over the past 100000 years We went from nascent tribal groupings to civilizations to spaceflight in what is practically an evolutionary blink of an eye Each cognitive development whatever spurred it on made it easier for the next development to happen Evolution is somewhat random but it is also a series of intense feedback cyclesI also appreciate how Torrey links cognitive development so explicitly to technological and cultural innovation This might seem self evident but we forget this and tend to project our own current cognitive capacity backwards So it wasn t just a case of for X thousands of years no human ever noticed something or tried whatever it was that led to an invention or a new idea As Torrey illustrates it might have been that for that long we were neurologically incapable of noticing or of having that idea or of doing whatever was reuired to make that leapIt s just so weird and wonderful to think about how the structures in our brains literally make us who we are and determine how we can thinkTorrey goes into great detail explaining human evolutionary history As you can see this is what stuck with me most For better or worse the actual thesis how we developed ideas of gods sometimes felt like it was lurking in the background waiting in the wings for us to get far enough along in history for Torrey to really talk about the evidence at hand It isn t until the penultimate chapter or so that we actually talk much about gods per se I don t think this is a fault of the book s structure itself so much as you know the facts available to us Just be aware going in that this is so a book about evolution and neuroscience that just so happens to talk a lot about gods and beliefsThe last chapter very briefly examines some of the other theories most of them sociological that have been proposed to explain gods I don t want to be too harsh here because Torrey up front notes that this is about as short of a survey as you can get and still call it a survey Still it is very concise Of Julian Jaynes famous bicameral mind theory Torrey sums up his dismissal in a single sentence Jaynes s thesis is at odds with almost everything known about the evolution of the human brain Although I lol d at such treatment I was hoping for a bit of a takedown I guess that s what the 40% of the book that s endnotes are for No joke I love a book that is significantly composed of endnotesAnyone who has a basic scientific understanding of human evolution ie you won t find the language in here too difficult will probably enjoy improving the depth of their understanding here If like me you want to learn a lot about the history of religion you re not necessarily going to learn as much as you might think but there s still some good stuff here In the end Torrey succeeds in showing me how the gradual evolution of the human brain played an integral role in our ability to conceive of and use gods whatever they might be


10 thoughts on “Evolving Brains Emerging Gods

  1. says:

    An utterly fascinating absorbing account of the cognitive development of man leading to the origins of religion Over the last 200000 years the human brain has gone through stages of development which can be compared with the development of a c

  2. says:

    Very revealing history of homo religious through homo sapiens' brain evolution We follow step by step the evolut

  3. says:

    The book argues that the idea of gods appeared after the brain went through five specific cognitive developments significant increase in the brain Homo habilis development of self awareness Homo erectus theory of mind archaic Homo sapiens introspective ability to reflect on their own thoughts early Homo sapiens and autobiographical memory

  4. says:

    One of the benefits of deciding to reuest books from NetGalley is that it exposes me to academic science writing than I might otherwise find Thanks to Columbia University Press for letting me read this I’m really fascinated by the study of religion from a sociological and anthropological perspective I love to learn about the history of religions and also about how we know what we know Evolving Brains Emergi

  5. says:

    I am a brain geek with a passing interest in world religions mostly in understanding the psychosocial basis and conseuences of religion so I jumped at the chance to read this book thanks NetGalley It did not disappoint The author posits that religion is a byproduct of human evolution; as our brains evolved to understand o

  6. says:

    Fascinating If you are short of time or get bogged down in the brain anatomy parts each chapter is nicely summarized and you can skip around a bit Long story short our brains weren't able to create religions until they finished five key developments then went hog wild creating every variation that has ever existed in a remarkably short time Not sure if I agree that religion was necessary for advanced societies but they certainly seem to

  7. says:

    In this book religion is studied as a naturalistic phenomenon The author uses a cross disciplinary approach to u

  8. says:

    Religion and other seemingly abstract ideas have always been of great interest to me How do we conceive of such things? Why do we conceive of such things? and I found this book to be very helpful to my own investigations Torrey traces evidence of human brain evolution and of religious practice how it began why it began where it has come from

  9. says:

    This is a strong case for the evolutionary origin of religion ie that gods came about as a result of humans' developing brains Here Torrey points toward the acuisition of autobiographical memory and the awareness of death I now understand clearly why I wasn’t wild about Nicholas Wade’s argument in The Faith Instinct How Relig

  10. says:

    Very intriguing Easy to follow and understand Well researched Food for thought

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