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The Illusion of God's Presence: The Biological Origins of Spiritual Longing
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Bibliographic Detail
Publisher Prometheus Books
Publication date January 12, 2016
Pages 463
Binding Hardcover
Book category Adult Non-Fiction
ISBN-13 9781633880740
ISBN-10 1633880745
Dimensions 1.50 by 6.50 by 9.50 in.
Weight 1.50 lbs.
Original list price $28.00
Other format details religious
Summaries and Reviews
Amazon.com description: Product Description: An essential feature of religious experience across many cultures is the intuitive feeling of God's presence. More than any rituals or doctrines, it is this experience that anchors religious faith, yet it has been largely ignored in the scientific literature on religion.

Starting with a vivid narrative account of the life-threatening hike that triggered his own mystical experience, biologist John Wathey takes the reader on a scientific journey to find the sources of religious feeling and the illusion of God's presence. His book delves into the biological origins of this compelling feeling, attributing it to innate neural circuitry that evolved to promote the mother-child bond. Dr. Wathey, a veteran neuroscientist, argues that evolution has programmed the infant brain to expect the presence of a loving being who responds to the child's needs. As the infant grows into adulthood, this innate feeling is eventually transferred to the realm of religion, where it is reactivated through the symbols, imagery, and rituals of worship. The author interprets our various conceptions of God in biological terms as illusory supernormal stimuli that fill an emotional and cognitive vacuum left over from infancy. 

These insights shed new light on some of the most vexing puzzles of religion, like the popular belief in a god who is judgmental and punishing, yet also unconditionally loving; the extraordinary tenacity of faith; the greater religiosity of women relative to men; religious obsessions with sex; the mysterious compulsion to pray; the seemingly irrepressible feminine attributes of God, even in traditionally patriarchal religions; and the strange allure of cults. Finally, Dr. Wathey considers the hypothesis that religion evolved to foster reproductive success, arguing that, in an age of potentially ruinous overpopulation, magical thinking has become a luxury we can no longer afford, one that distracts us from urgent threats to our planet.

Deeply researched yet elegantly written in a jargon-free and accessible style, this book presents a compelling interpretation of the evolutionary origins of spirituality and religion.

Editions
Hardcover
Book cover for 9781633880740
 
The price comparison is for this edition
from Prometheus Books (January 12, 2016)
9781633880740 | details & prices | 463 pages | 6.50 × 9.50 × 1.50 in. | 1.50 lbs | List price $28.00
About: An essential feature of religious experience across many cultures is the intuitive feeling of God's presence.
Paperback
Book cover for 9780553250473
 
With Tom Curtis, Sharon Curtis | from Bantam Books (October 1, 1986); titled "Sunshine and Shadow"
9780553250473 | details & prices | List price $3.95
This edition also contains Sunshine and Shadow
About: While filming in rural Wisconsin, successful Hollywood director Alan Wilde finds himself drawn to a lovely, intriguing Amish schoolteacher, Susan Peachey, but their love is threatened by the dramatic difference between their worlds

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