By Ara Norenzayan
How did human societies scale up from tight-knit teams of hunter-gatherers to the massive, nameless, cooperative societies of today--even notwithstanding anonymity is the enemy of cooperation? How did prepared religions with "Big Gods"--the nice monotheistic and polytheistic faiths--spread to colonize so much minds on the earth? In Big Gods, Ara Norenzayan makes the astounding argument that those primary puzzles in regards to the origins of civilization resolution each one other.
Sincere religion in watchful massive Gods unleashed unheard of cooperation inside of ever-expanding teams, but even as it brought a brand new resource of strength clash among competing teams. And in a few components of the realm, societies with atheist majorities--some of the main cooperative and wealthy within the world--have climbed religion's ladder, after which kicked it away.
Big Gods" solutions basic questions about the origins and unfold of global religions and is helping us comprehend the increase of cooperative societies with no trust in gods.
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Extra info for Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict
But more importantly, religion’s imprints on human nature are not so much found in dogmas in texts and teachings, but in natural religion—the thoughts and behaviors of believers. When teachings matter (they exist only in some religious groups and only in recent history), they matter only as lived interpretations and understandings by believers. Therefore the bulk of my attention will be on recent empirical Supernatural Watchers studies from psychology, economics, sociology, and anthropology, where the actual behavior of people can be carefully observed in everyday life or under controlled conditions.
Pascal Boyer notes that when believers talk about their interactions with spirits and gods, their reasoning betrays inferences about the mental states of supernatural agents. When people pray to God, they want to know what God thinks and wishes. When people want to appease ancestor spirits, they worry that the spirits might get angry and vengeful if proper ritual sacrifices are not conducted to honor them. In Hindu mythology, the rocky relationship between Lord Shiva and his divine consort Shakti includes enough mind-twisting gossip to challenge even the most sophisticated mind reader.
Panel d: Eye in the Sky, an alchemical woodcut attributed to a European text from the sixteenth century. It is often depicted with the motto Quo Modo Deum, Latin for “This is the way of God” (courtesy of Rare Books Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collection, Princeton University Library). Supernatural Watchers (a) (c) (d) (b) 25 26 Chapter 2 perceptive pair of eyes, he wore the sun for a crown, had thunderbolts in his hands, and had tears descending from his eyes as rain. 28 • The Kwaio people of the Solomon islands are preoccupied daily with the adalo, ancestor spirits who see and know what is going on in the villages, even events that are hidden from view.
Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict by Ara Norenzayan