The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures

“People of faith may not warm to the view that the mind’s receptivity to religion has been shaped by evolution,” writes Nicholas Wade, science writer for the New York Times, in his new book The Faith Instinct. If religion evolves with cultural circumstances, then it loses some of its immutable, supernatural qualities. On the other hand, atheists “may not embrace the idea that religious behavior evolved because it conferred essential benefits on ancient societies and their successors.” If we accept the proposition that faith endures because cultures select it (perhaps unconsciously) as a necessary attribute of their survival, then we have to accept the proposition that religion is good—even necessary—for the survival of the species.

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