In this groundbreaking volume, J. Anderson Thomson, Jr., MD, with Clare Aukofer, offers a succinct yet comprehensive study of how and why the human mind generates religious belief. Dr. Thomson, a highly respected practicing psychiatrist with credentials in forensic psychiatry and evolutionary psychology, methodically investigates the components and causes of religious belief in the same way any scientist would investigate the movement of astronomical bodies or the evolution of life over time—that is, as a purely natural phenomenon. Providing compelling evidence from psychology, the cognitive neurosciences, and related fields, he, with Ms. Aukofer, presents an easily accessible and exceptionally convincing case that god(s) were created by man—not vice versa. With this slim volume, Dr. Thomson establishes himself as a must-read thinker and leading voice on the primacy of reason and science over superstition and religion.
In this groundbreaking volume, J. Anderson Thomson, Jr., MD, with Clare Aukofer, offers a succinct yet comprehensive study of how and why the human mind generates religious belief. Dr. Thomson, a highly respected practicing psychiatrist with credentials in forensic psychiatry and evolutionary psychology, methodically investigates the components and causes of religious belief in the same way any scientist would investigate the movement of astronomical bodies or the evolution of life over time—that is, as a purely natural phenomenon. Providing compelling evidence from psychology, the cognitive neurosciences, and related fields, he, with Ms. Aukofer, presents an easily accessible and exceptionally convincing case that god(s) were created by man—not vice versa. With this slim volume, Dr. Thomson establishes himself as a must-read thinker and leading voice on the primacy of reason and science over superstition and religion.
The cognitive science of religion is a rapidly growing field whose practitioners apply insights from advances in cognitive science in order to provide a better understanding of religious impulses, beliefs, and behaviors. In this book Ilkka Pyysi?inen shows how this methodology can profitably be used in the comparative study of beliefs about superhuman agents. He begins by developing a theoretical outline of the basic, modular architecture of the human mind and especially the human capacity to understand agency. He then goes on to discuss examples of supernatural agency in detail, arguing that the human ability to attribute beliefs and desires to others forms the basis of conceptions of supernatural agents and of such social cognition in which supernatural agents are postulated as interested parties in social life. Beliefs about supernatural agency are natural, says Pyysi?inen, in the sense that such concepts are used in an intuitive and automatic fashion. Two dots and a straight line below them automatically trigger the idea of a face, for example. Given that the mind consists of a host of such modular mechanisms, certain kinds of beliefs will always have a selective advantage over others. Abstract theological concepts are usually elaborate versions of such simpler and more contagious folk conceptions. Pyysi?inen uses ethnographical and survey materials as well as doctrinal treatises to show that there are certain recurrent patterns in beliefs about supernatural agents both at the level of folk-religion and of formal theology.
Because of the design of our minds. That is Justin Barrett's simple answer to the question of his title. With rich evidence from cognitive science but without technical language, psychologist Barrett shows that belief in God is an almost inevitable consequence of the kind of minds we have. Most of what we believe comes from mental tools working below our conscious awareness. And what we believe consciously is in large part driven by these unconscious beliefs. Barrett demonstrates that beliefs in gods match up well with these automatic assumptions; beliefs in an all-knowing, all-powerful God match up even better. Barrett goes on to explain why beliefs like religious beliefs are so widespread and why it is very difficult for our minds to think without them. Anyone who wants a concise, clear, and scientific explanation of why anyone would believe in God should pick up Barrett's book.
There are so many religions in the world that it can be confusing for a spiritual seeker to figure out which, if any, are true. There are as many gods in mythology as there are people to believe in them. In fact, one of the common retorts from atheists when talking to Christians is "Why do you believe your God is real while thinking all these other gods are false?" In this book, Christian Apologist and blogger Evan Minton gives evidence for the existence of the God of The Bible, and shows why it's rational to believe the God of Christianity while disbelieving in all others. Mr. Minton argues for the biblical God, using arguments that draw from a wide range of disciplines such as science, philosophy, and history. This book is a must for any spiritual seeker.
The God Delusion caused a sensation when it was published in 2006. Within weeks it became the most hotly debated topic, with Dawkins himself branded as either saint or sinner for presenting his hard-hitting, impassioned rebuttal of religion of all types. His argument could hardly be more topical. While Europe is becoming increasingly secularized, the rise of religious fundamentalism, whether in the Middle East or Middle America, is dramatically and dangerously dividing opinion around the world. In America, and elsewhere, a vigorous dispute between 'intelligent design' and Darwinism is seriously undermining and restricting the teaching of science. In many countries religious dogma from medieval times still serves to abuse basic human rights such as women's and gay rights. And all from a belief in a God whose existence lacks evidence of any kind. Dawkins attacks God in all his forms. He eviscerates the major arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. He shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry and abuses children. The God Delusion is a brilliantly argued, fascinating polemic that will be required reading for anyone interested in this most emotional and important subject.
Recent polls show that 96% of Americans believe in God. Why are people turning to religion in greater numbers than ever before? In How We Believe, Michael Shermer presents the results of an exhaustive empirical study in which he asked 10,000 Americans how and why they believe and about details of their faith. The result offers fresh and startling insights into age-old questions.
This book is intended to give, in bare outline, what we should understand by religion, in order to make it universally and pragmatically necessary. It also seeks to present that aspect of the idea of the God-head which has a direct bearing on the motives and actions of every minute of our lives. It is true that God is Infinite in His nature and aspect, and it is also true that to prepare a chart detailing, so far as is consistent with reason, what God is like is only an evidence of the limitations of the human mind in its attempt to fathom God. Still it is equally true that the human mind, in spite of all its drawbacks, can not rest perfectly satisfied with what is finite. It has a natural urge to interpret what is human and finite in the light of what is super-human and infinite,— what it feels but can not express, what within it lies implicit but under circumstances refuses to be explicit. This book includes the following chapters: I. The Universality, Necessity, and Oneness of Religion: The Distinction between Pleasure, Pain, and Bliss: God II. Four Fundamental Religious Methods III. Instruments of Knowledge: Religious Point of View
From the author of the bestselling novel The Shack and the New York Times bestsellers Cross Roads and Eve comes a compelling, conversational exploration of twenty-eight assumptions about God—assumptions that just might be keeping us from experiencing His unconditional, all-encompassing love. In his wildly popular novels, Wm. Paul Young portrayed the Triune God in ways that challenged our thinking—sometimes upending long-held beliefs, but always centered in the eternal, all-encompassing nature of God’s love. Now, in Wm. Paul Young’s first nonfiction book, he invites us to revisit our assumptions about God—this time using the Bible, theological discussion, and personal anecdotes. Paul encourages us to think through beliefs we’ve presumed to be true and consider whether some might actually be false. Expounding on the compassion fans felt from the “Papa” portrayed in The Shack—now a major film starring Sam Worthington and Octavia Spencer—Paul encourages you to think anew about important issues including sin, religion, hell, politics, identity, creation, human rights, and helping us discover God’s deep and abiding love.
"Like a selfish gene or a parasite, the religion virus catches a free ride in the minds of our species, infecting our history and culture. What Guns, Germs and Steel did for anthropology, this book does for faith. It puts the pieces together into a fascinating, coherent model that makes sense! (Dan Barker, President, Freedom From Religion Foundation.) Craig A. James has written an accessible book on evolution and religion that manages to explain memetics while being both funny and touching. (Wes Unruh, author, The Art of Memetics, editor of alteratic.com.) Full of powerful, ground-breaking ideas, packaged in a deceptively simple, easy-reading style. James has created one of those rare books where, every few pages, I find myself thinking, "I need to send a copy of this to so-and-so." This is the most fun I've had reading non-fiction in a long time. (Phil Steele, Editor, Fragment and The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics)"--From Amazon.com.
When you travel to a new city, it helps to have a map close at hand. On the first day of school, you need to have your schedule of classes. And if you've been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or suspect you may have it, then it's even more important to have a guidebook within reach. Facing Bipolar will help you navigate the world of medications, therapists, and the up-and-down mood cycles common to the disorder. It clearly explains what bipolar disorder is and provides sound guidance for developing the necessary coping skills to manage its impact on your life. In this book you'll discover: How therapy and medications can help When and how to tell your friends, roommates, and teachers The four key factors that will bring more stability to your life How to develop a support network and access college resources Ways to overcome the challenges in accepting this illness
In our post-Christian, pluralistic society, responding to the perception that Christians are prejudiced, anti-intellectual, and bigoted has become a greater challenge than ever before. The result is often intimidation, withdrawal, and even doubts among God's people about what we really believe. Bestselling author and teaching pastor at Living on the Edge, Chip Ingram, wants to change that. In Why I Believe, he gives compelling answers to questions about - the resurrection of Christ - the evidence of an afterlife -the accuracy and intellectual feasibility of the Bible - the debate between creation and evolution - the historicity of Jesus - and more The solid, biblical, logical answers he shares will satisfy the honest doubts that every believer experiences now and then, and will provide practical, thoughtful answers that can be shared with family and friends. This is the perfect resource for churches, small groups, and individuals who long not only to really know what and why they believe, but also to be equipped to explain the intellectual justification for their faith in everyday language.
How did human societies scale up from tight-knit groups of hunter-gatherers to the large, anonymous, cooperative societies of today—even though anonymity is the enemy of cooperation? How did organized religions with "Big Gods"—the great monotheistic and polytheistic faiths—spread to colonize most minds in the world? In Big Gods, Ara Norenzayan makes the surprising argument that these fundamental puzzles about the origins of civilization answer each other. Sincere faith in watchful Big Gods unleashed unprecedented cooperation within ever-expanding groups, yet at the same time it introduced a new source of potential conflict between competing groups. And in some parts of the world, societies with atheist majorities—some of the most cooperative and prosperous in the world—have climbed religion's ladder, and then kicked it away. Big Gods answers fundamental questions about the origins and spread of world religions and helps us understand the rise of cooperative societies without belief in gods.
This book will help me to understand who Donald Trump is, what he really believes, where his vision for America will lead us, and where God is in all of this.
Abandoning monolithic approaches and embracing the possibility of inconsistencies and incongruities in Greek thought, behaviour, and culture, this book investigates how ancient Greeks could validate the complementarity of dissonant, if not contradictory, representations in e.g.polytheism, theodicy, divine omnipotence and ruler cult.
The Believing Brain is bestselling author Michael Shermer's comprehensive and provocative theory on how beliefs are born, formed, reinforced, challenged, changed, and extinguished. In this work synthesizing thirty years of research, psychologist, historian of science, and the world's best-known skeptic Michael Shermer upends the traditional thinking about how humans form beliefs about the world. Simply put, beliefs come first and explanations for beliefs follow. The brain, Shermer argues, is a belief engine. From sensory data flowing in through the senses, the brain naturally begins to look for and find patterns, and then infuses those patterns with meaning. Our brains connect the dots of our world into meaningful patterns that explain why things happen, and these patterns become beliefs. Once beliefs are formed the brain begins to look for and find confirmatory evidence in support of those beliefs, which accelerates the process of reinforcing them, and round and round the process goes in a positive-feedback loop of belief confirmation. Shermer outlines the numerous cognitive tools our brains engage to reinforce our beliefs as truths. Interlaced with his theory of belief, Shermer provides countless real-world examples of how this process operates, from politics, economics, and religion to conspiracy theories, the supernatural, and the paranormal. Ultimately, he demonstrates why science is the best tool ever devised to determine whether or not a belief matches reality.
What Do All Christians Believe? For many people, words like doctrine and theology cause their eyes to glaze over, or they find them difficult to understand and struggle to see how they are relevant to daily life. But theology is far from boring—it is the study of God and should lead to awe and wonder as we better understand who God is and what he has done for us. In Core Christianity, author, pastor, and theologian Mike Horton tackles the essential and basic beliefs that all Christians share. What is “core” to the Christian faith? In addition to unpacking these beliefs in a way that is easy to understand, Horton shows why they matter to our lives today. This introduction to the basic doctrines of Christianity is a helpful guide by a respected theologian and a popular author, and it includes discussion questions for individual or group use. Core Christianity is perfect for those who are new to the faith, as well as those who have an interest in deepening in their understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
In recent years, a number of works have appeared with important implications for the age-old question of the existence of a god. These writings, many of which are not by theologians, strengthen the rational case for the existence of a god, even as this god may not be exactly the Christian God of history. This book brings together for the first time such recent diverse contributions from fields such as physics, the philosophy of human consciousness, evolutionary biology, mathematics, the history of religion, and theology. Based on such new materials as well as older ones from the twentieth century, it develops five rational arguments that point strongly to the (very probable) existence of a god. They do not make use of the scientific method, which is inapplicable to the question of a god. Rather, they are in an older tradition of rational argument dating back at least to the ancient Greeks. For those who are already believers, the book will offer additional rational reasons that may strengthen their belief. Those who do not believe in the existence of a god at present will encounter new rational arguments that may cause them to reconsider their opinion.

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