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Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
Dennett, Daniel C.
An innovative thinker tackles the controversial question of why we believe in God and how religion shapes our lives and our future. For a growing number of people, there is nothing more important than religion. It is an integral part of their marriage, child rearing, and community. In this daring new book, distinguished philosopher Dennett takes a hard look at this phenomenon and asks why. Where does our devotion to God come from and what purpose does it serve? Is religion a blind evolutionary compulsion or a rational choice? In a narrative that ranges widely through history, philosophy, and psychology, Dennett explores how organized religion evolved from folk beliefs and why it is such a potent force today. He contends that the "belief in belief" has fogged any attempt to rationally consider the existence of God and the relationship between divinity and human need.
Faith Vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible
Coyne, Jerry A.
The New York Times bestselling author of Why Evolution is True explains why any attempt to make religion compatible with science is doomed to fail.In this provocative book, evolutionary biologist Jerry A. Coyne lays out in clear, dispassionate detail why the toolkit of science, based on reason and empirical study, is reliable, while that of religion - including faith, dogma, and revelation - leads to incorrect, untestable, or conflicting conclusions.Coyne is responding to a national climate in which more than half of Americans don’t believe in evolution, members of Congress deny global warming, and long-conquered childhood diseases are reappearing because of religious objections to inoculation, and he warns that religious prejudices in politics, education, medicine, and social policy are on the rise. Extending the bestselling works of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens, he demolishes the claims of religion to provide verifiable “truth” by subjecting those claims to the same tests we use to establish truth in science.Coyne irrefutably demonstrates the grave harm - to individuals and to our planet - in mistaking faith for fact in making the most important decisions about the world we live in.
Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia
A scientific exploration into humanity’s obsession with the afterlife and quest for immortality from the bestselling author and skeptic Michael ShermerIn his most ambitious work yet, Shermer sets out to discover what drives humans’ belief in life after death, focusing on recent scientific attempts to achieve immortality by radical life extentionists, extropians, transhumanists, cryonicists, and mind-uploaders, along with utopians who have attempted to create heaven on earth. For millennia, religions have concocted numerous manifestations of heaven and the afterlife, the place where souls go after the death of the physical body. Religious leaders have toiled to make sense of this place that a surprising 74% of Americans believe exists, but from which no one has ever returned to report what it is really like.Heavens on Earth concludes with an uplifting paean to purpose and progress and what we can do in the here-and-now, whether or not there is a hereafter.
The Human Instinct: How We Evolved to Have Reason, Consciousness, and Free Will
Miller, Kenneth R.
A radical, optimistic exploration of how humans evolved to develop reason, consciousness, and free will.Lately, the most passionate advocates of the theory of evolution seem to present it as bad news. Scientists such as Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, and Sam Harris tell us that our most intimate actions, thoughts, and values are mere byproducts of thousands of generations of mindless adaptation. We are just one species among multitudes, and therefore no more significant than any other living creature.Now comes Brown University biologist Kenneth R. Miller to make the case that this view betrays a gross misunderstanding of evolution. Natural selection surely explains how our bodies and brains were shaped, but Miller argues that it’s not a social or cultural theory of everything. In The Human Instinct, he rejects the idea that our biological heritage means that human thought, action, and imagination are pre-determined, describing instead the trajectory that ultimately gave us reason, consciousness and free will. A proper understanding of evolution, he says, reveals humankind in its glorious uniqueness - one foot planted firmly among all of the creatures we’ve evolved alongside, and the other in the special place of self-awareness and understanding that we alone occupy in the universe.Equal parts natural science and philosophy, The Human Instinct is a moving and powerful celebration of what it means to be human.
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