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Alpha God: The Psychology of Religious Violence and Oppression Paperback – March 10, 2015

4.6 out of 5 stars 122 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


"Hector A. Garcia has written a brilliant, courageous, and vitally important book about the widespread belief in a single, all-powerful god. Specifically, he has traced that belief to--brace yourselves--our primate origins. Given the fact that religious differences underlie almost all of the world's bloody conflicts, this might be one of the most important topics anyone could tackle. Garcia's research is impeccable, his thesis is staggeringly original, and he writes with breathtaking clarity and insight. It's been a long time since a book has stunned me like this one has."

—SEBASTIAN JUNGER, author of the bestselling books
War and The Perfect Storm

Alpha God is ambitious, provocative, and eminently engaging. Garcia proposes a novel Darwinian hypothesis on a topic—religious violence—that is central to our times. While the details will be disturbing to many, religious violence is an area of inquiry that cannot be ignored, and Garcia offers an abundance of intriguing ideas that will keep researchers busy for years to come.”

—RICHARD SOSIS, James Barnett Professor of Humanistic Anthropology, University of Connecticut; cofounder and coeditor of
Religion, Brain & Behavior
"Original, bold, and beautifully written,
Alpha God offers a groundbreaking  and eye-opening evolutionary analysis of human religion, explaining not only why religion exists but also why it is the way it is. Armed with broad knowledge of the history, principles, and scriptures of human religions and a deep understanding of evolutionary psychology and nonhuman primate behavior, Hector A. Garcia convincingly argues that religion is built on—and takes advantage of—human (and especially men’s) evolved psychology, particularly our obsession with dominance/submission and sex.” 

DARIO MAESTRIPIERIauthor of Macachiavellian Intelligence and Games Primates Play

“I can already hear the true believers and religious apologists snorting that God is more subtle than the dominant alpha male portrayed by Hector A. Garcia, just as we can anticipate the claim that humanity’s sense of God comes not from evolution but from, well, God himself! (Note, by the way, the implication that God is not only male but also a personalized actor.) But the overwhelming majority of believers do in fact personalize God as a dominant alpha male, and, moreover, as this book demonstrates so effectively, our species is predisposed by its evolutionary history to do just this. My guess is that there is more—that is, more biology—behind religious belief than merely the allure of an alpha God, but nonetheless
Alpha God goes a long way toward explaining our peculiar vulnerability to such illusions. It’s a superb overview of a compelling hypothesis for the evolution of religion.”

DAVID P. BARASH, professor of psychology, University of Washington; author of Buddhist Biology: Ancient Eastern Wisdom Meets Modern Western Science

About the Author

Hector A. Garcia, Psy.D., is an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and a clinical psychologist at the Veterans Health Administration specializing in the treatment of combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He has published extensively on the treatment of PTSD in combat veterans. He has also published on the masculine identity in the aftermath of war, stress and rank in organizations, and the interplay between religious practice and psychopathology. 

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Prometheus; 1st edition (March 10, 2015)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 288 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1633880206
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1633880207
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 12 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.34 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 122 ratings

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Dr. Hector Garcia is a clinical psychologist, researcher, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He is also the author of the books: Alpha God: The Psychology of Religious Violence and Oppression, and; Sex, Power and Partisanship. He publishes on the evolutionary psychology of religion, warfare, politics, and PTSD. Dr. Garcia has been featured on TED, PBS, and CSPAN.

Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
122 global ratings

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