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Hinde R.A. Why gods persist. A scientific approach to religion

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Routledge, 2010. — 304 p. — ISBN 9781135252786
What is it about religion that appeals to people? Why do religions and religious beliefs persist in the face of increasing secularisation, harsh criticism and even political persecution? Robert Hinde argues that it is not enough simply to criticize religion, we must understand it - not only how it causes so much conflict, but also how it brings comfort to many.
Hinde, a distinguished scientist, draws on a wide range of psychological, developmental and evolutionary research to explore this fascinating question. This second edition of Why Gods Persist is designed for everyone interested in the subject, either as a student of psychology and anthropology of religion or as a follower of the current controversies over the value of religious belief. It tackles a complex problem without using jargon, draws examples from a wide range of religions including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism, and provides helpful chapter summaries and references.
Religion and science: the questions
Some background issues
What does it mean to say ‘I believe’?
What are gods like?
The development of beliefs
Why do people believe in gods?
The dynamics of belief and its relation to the social system
Ritual: background considerations
The form and sequence of ritual: magic
The motivation and consequences of ritual
Moral codes: background considerations
Prosocial behaviour and reciprocity
Other moral precepts
Religious experience
Social aspects of religious systems
Why do religious systems persist?
Where do we go from here?
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