Religion is one of the most powerful forces running through humanhistory, and although often presented as a force for good, itsimpact is frequently violent and divisive. This provocative workbrings together cutting-edge research from both evolutionary andcognitive psychology to help readers understand the psychologicalstructure of religious morality and the origins of religiousviolence. * Introduces a fundamentally new approach to the analysis ofreligion in a style accessible to the general reader * Applies insights from evolutionary and cognitive psychology toboth Judaism and Christianity, and their texts, to help understandthe origins of religious violence * Argues that religious violence is grounded in the moralpsychology of religion * Illustrates its controversial argument with reference to the9/11 terrorist attacks, and the response to the attacks from boththe terrorists and the President. Suggests strategies for beginningto counter the divisive aspects of religion * Discusses the role of religion and religious criticism in thecontemporary world.
Argues for a position sceptical of the moralauthority of religion, while also critiquing the excesses of the new atheists for failing to appreciate the moralcontributions of religion * Awarded Honourable Mention, 2010 Prose Awards
John Teehan is Associate Professor of Religion at Hofstra University. He is the author of numerous articles on the impact of evolutionary studies on morality and religion, as well as studies on the philosophy of John Dewey.
Acknowledgments. Introduction: Evolution and Mind. 1. The Evolution of Morality. Setting the Task. The Moral Brain. The First Layer: Kin Selection. The Second Layer: Reciprocal Altruism. A Third Layer: Indirect Reciprocity. A Fourth Layer: Cultural Group Selection. A Fifth Layer: The Moral Emotions. Conclusion: From Moral Grammar to Moral Systems. 2. The Evolution of Moral Religions. Setting the Task. The Evolution of the Religious Mind. Conceptualizing the Almighty. The Moral Function of Gods. 3. Evolutionary Religious Ethics: Judaism. Setting the Task. Constructing Yahweh. The Ten Commandments: An Evolutionary Interpretation. Conclusion: The Evolved Law. 4. Evolutionary Religious Ethics:Christianity. Setting the Task. Constructing the Christ. Setting the Boundaries: Christian and/or Jew?. The Third Race: Christians as In-Group. Putting on Christ: Christianity s Signals ofCommitment. Loving Your Neighbor and Turning the Other Cheek. 5. Religion, Violence, and the Evolved Mind. Setting the Task. Devoted to Destruction: Sanctified Violence and Judaism. The Blood of the Lamb. A Case Study in the Evolved Psychology of Religious Violence:9/11. 6. Religion Evolving. Setting the Task. Varieties of Religious Expressions. If There Were No God . Religion, Ethics, and Violence: An Assessment. Responding to Religion, Ethics, and Violence: SomeProposals. Conclusions. Notes. Bibliography. Index.