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Few forces in the world are as potent as religion: it comforts people in their suffering and inspires them to both magnificent and terrible deeds. In this provocative and timely book, Daniel C. Dennett seeks to uncover the origins of religion and discusses how and why different faiths have shaped so many lives, whether religion is an addiction or a genuine human need, and even whether it is good for our health. Arguing passionately for the need to understand this multifaceted phenomenon, Breaking the Spell offers a truly original – and comprehensive – explanation for faith.
Breaking the Spell is Daniel Dennett's most innovative and important work yet; it offers a profound challenge to society and a compelling new history of belief. In this provocative and timely book, Dennett seeks to uncover the origins of religion, and discusses why and how different faiths have commanded allegiance and shaped so many lives. He argues passionately for the need to understand this phenomenon and offers a truly original and comprehensive explanation for religion. What was the psychological and cultural soil in which it first took root? How did it evolve? Is it the product of blind evolutionary instinct or of rational choice? Dennett shows how these ideas could have spread from individual superstitions, via shamanism and the early `wild' strains of religion to today's institutionalized systems. Dennett brings religion into the realm of real public debate - and, in so doing, he breaks the spell.
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.
The philosophy professor behind Breaking the Spell and Consciousness Explained offers exercises and tools to stretch the mind, offering new ways to consider, discuss and argue positions on dangerous subject matter including evolution, the meaning of life and free will.
Offers a wider perspective on Darwin's scientific theory of natural selection, explaining how it extends beyond biology, analyzing current controversies over the origins of life and inherent biases, and challenging popular philosophies
An enlightening discussion that will motivate students to think critically, the book opens with Plantinga's assertion that Christianity is compatible with evolutionary theory because Christians believe that God created the living world, and it is entirely possible that God did so by using a process of evolution.
What is it like to be a preacher or rabbi who no longer believes in God? In this expanded and updated edition of their groundbreaking study, Daniel C. Dennett and Linda LaScola comprehensively and sensitively expose an inconvenient truth that religious institutions face in the new transparency of the information age—the phenomenon of clergy who no longer believe what they publicly preach. In confidential interviews, clergy from across the ministerial spectrum—from liberal to literal—reveal how their lives of religious service and study have led them to a truth inimical to their professed beliefs and profession. Although their personal stories are as varied as the denominations they once represented, or continue to represent—whether Catholic, Baptist, Episcopalian, Methodist, Mormon, Pentecostal, or any of numerous others—they give voice not only to their own struggles but also to those who similarly suffer in tender and lonely silence. As this study poignantly and vividly reveals, their common journey has far-reaching implications not only for their families, their congregations, and their communities—but also for the very future of religion.

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