Samstag, 21. April 2007

The first woman about evolution of religiousness

I have not yet read the new book of primatologist Barbara J. King "Evolving god" (Amazon) - but it seems, that this is the first book about the evolution of religiousness written by a women. And it seems to me, that she has a very fresh and "female" look into religion. Isn't it a surprise to recognize that all other books about religion and evolution at the moment are written by men? (Look for example this list: Chronicle) It is very surprising, because we know from scientific insight, that woman have more interest than men in religion and religious activity. And even if Barbara J. King gives not a whole lot of more new good arguments and facts about the evolution of religiousness - most importantly is, it seems to me, that she gives a new "feeling" while reasoning about religion. Her main point is "belongingness". Have you ever heart about such a thing from another author writing about religion? And why not? - They are men!

"Biological anthropologist King contends that religion, conceived as a system not of beliefs but of actions, not as theology but as worship, is a consequence of primate evolution. It proceeds, she posits, from the sense of group membership that highly developed mammals, especially the great apes, demonstrate in many ways but most saliently for religion when they show concern for a group member that has died." (Amazon)

"King draws upon cutting-edge research in primatology to demonstrate that once animals are capable of emotional attachments and cognitive empathy, they are ready for—and even appear to require—certain intangibles like a belief in something greater than themselves." "It's true that the book requires some enormous argumentative leaps; it's a long stretch from demonstrating that contemporary primates have emotional attachments to claiming that they are then capable of creating religions, as King maintains human beings once did. But even readers who close the book unconvinced will be impressed by King's fresh insights and her lucid writing, which is a jargon-free, story-filled model." (Amazon)

... The origins of the religious impulse. King finds this in what she calls belongingness, "mattering to someone who matters to you," a trait found in contemporary humans but also in our human and non-human primate ancestors. (Amazon, Customer Reviews)

'Evolving God' has the added merit of pushing beyond the Abrahamic "big three," including a handy account of religious archaeology. King's touchstone is "belongingness," the idea that "hominids turned to the sacred realm because they evolved to relate in deeply emotional ways with their social partners, ... and because the human brain evolved to allow an extension of this belongingness beyond the here and now." David Barash (The Chronicle of Higher Education ) Barbara King says (according to Barash): "At bedrock is the belief that one may be seen, heard, protected, harmed, loved, frightened, or soothed by interaction with God, gods, or spirits."

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