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The Invention of Religion Paperback – January 1, 2012
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"The Invention of Religion" is a brief, well-referenced, well-argumented book that provides the most likely psychological mechanisms that led to the invention of religion. As the author notes, "In the absence of knowledge, humans will invent a religion". This is the perfect introductory-level book for the layperson. The author does a wonderful job of laying down the foundation of his theories and building sound arguments to a satisfying conclusion. This brief 126- page book is composed of the following ten chapters: 1. Introduction, 2. Ritual, 3. Deities, 4. The Soul, 5. The Afterlife, 6. The Evolution of Religion, 7. In Conclusion, 8. The Origins of Morality, 9. The Origins of Life, and 10. In Conclusion.
1. A well-written and well-researched book. Accessible to the masses.
2. Nice flowing narrative that matches with the supporting arguments of the author.
3. A fascinating topic that the author does justice.
4. Great introductory book that can be read in one sitting. More knowledge for your time.
5. Does a good job of defining the terms and provides very good examples to help the reader comprehend his thesis. The use of "our Man on an island" was effective.
6. The four key aspects of a religion.
7. Great use of psychology, social sciences, biology, neuroscience, and other converging sciences to build up his sound arguments. The author makes references to groundbreaking experiments that support his arguments.
8. The author covers briefly some of the most interesting concepts of religion: rituals, souls, prayers, afterlife, etc...
9. The chapter on the soul was my favorite.
10. Interesting look at the brain. Consciousness and free will.
11.Read more ›
Drake takes us through what almost seems like a mathematical proof (although less confounding) of how religions would have formed in early humans. He uses a "Man on an Island" as an abstract representative for early man--like an unknown in a math equation--and then explores certain psychological phenomena to see how early man would have reacted to certain pressures. The book really goes in depth into the psychology of ancient humans and looks at the world through their eyes. Each chapter explores how different aspects of religion (belief in deities, a soul, afterlife, etc.) come to be formed and is backed up by ample research and source citations. And there is also a section exploring how religions evolve over time.
One aspect of this book that makes it enjoyable is the fact that it isn't an attack on religion but an analysis of how religions can be formed. I always feel that books are more pleasurable when they aren't didactic and it doesn't seem that the author has a bone to pick. But it is also a very accessible read, because Drake really takes you through every step of logic so that you can tell he has followed the scientific method of reasoning.
And, in the end, the author even provides what he humbly calls "partial evidence" which actually seemed very convincing and conclusive to me. On the whole, I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the origins of religion and how they are formed.
Even with its emphasis on psychology, this book delves into other interesting topics like the origins of morality, experiments with prayer, free will, etc.
And I really thought the book was structured well. I especially liked how each chapter investigated certain psychological phenomena and then tied it all together with the Man on an Island at the end of the chapter. The whole book seemed very logical with sound arguments.
Drake covers many aspects of religion such as near death experiences, the soul, deities, morality and the afterlife. Each chapter explores these key characteristics of a religion and offers suggestions through psychology as to how these features first came to light. Going deeper there is an argument that religion fills a void in our knowledge but this wasn't unfamiliar territory to me. Mythologies were attempts at explaining our origins and even today our advancements in science have not given us all the answers we seek.
Drake explores each section well, breaking it down carefully and ensuring the reader isn't easily lost on what are very serious theological arguments. The Man on an Island concept was interesting and was a good way to conclude each section. I'm not a religious person myself but didn't feel Drake's book was an attack on religion, more an exploration of how faiths develop. The details on the experiments were very intriguing and I especially enjoyed the chapter on morality.
The Invention of Religion is a brief but fascinating exploration of the birth and development of religion. Focusing on the human psyche to give substance to his arguments, Drake has put together a very compelling series of ideas here.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It took little longer to read than most books on this topic, but it's solid reasoning ,for me, is beyond reproach.Published 3 months ago by ?what?
Excellently done. Logical with good insight into human behavior and thought patterns. He lays a solid foundation for his observations and conclusions. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Cejay Mel
The field of cultural anthropology has researched and analyzed this topic often with similar conclusions. Read morePublished 8 months ago by John Bell
This is a very good and well cited book. The author does a good job of explaining some complex concepts and studies in an easy to read format. Read morePublished 17 months ago by sirreepicheep
Mr Drake 's fundamental assumptions demonstrate a bias which contaminates his every conclusion. A good bibliography but otherwise nothing important.Published 18 months ago by LordDraqo