- World All Languages: Pelican/Penguin Press
- Published: 1st October 2020
- Agent: Donald Winchester
How Religion Evolved
Religion is both unique – as far as we can judge – and universal to humans. Our species diverged from the great apes 6–8 million years ago, and since then, along with language, our propensity towards spiritual thinking and ritual emerged. How, when and why did this occur, and how did the earliest, informal shamanic practices evolve into the world religions familiar to us today? What is the evolutionary purpose of religion, and are some individuals more inclined than others to be religious?
Robin Dunbar, Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Oxford, explores these and other key questions, mining the distinctions between religions of experience – as practised by hunter-gatherer societies since the earliest human history – and doctrinal religions, from Judaism, Christianity and Islam to Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism and their many derivatives. Examining religion’s origins, social function, the effects of religious practice or feeling on the brain and body, and its place in the modern era, HOW RELIGION EVOLVED offers a fascinating and far-reaching analysis of this quintessentially human impulse – to believe.