This ambitious, interdisciplinary book seeks to explain the origins of religion using our knowledge of the evolution of cognition. A cognitive anthropologist and psychologist, Scott Atran argues that religion is a by-product of human evolution just as the cognitive intervention, cultural selection, and historical survival of religion is an accommodation of certain existential and moral elements that have evolved in the human condition.
Scott Atran, Directer of Research, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris, France
"With almost 1000 references and discussions of most of human history and culture, from Neanderthal burials to suicide-bombers in the Palestinian anti-colonialist struggle, this book is consciously and truly encyclopedic in scope, and shows both breadth and depth of scholarship...the reader finds himself constantly challenged and provoked into an intellectual ping-pong game as he follows the arguments and the huge body of findings marshalled to buttress them...Atran managed to combine the old and the new by relating the automatic cognitive operations to existential anxieties. This combination will be a benchmark and a challenge to students od religion in all disciplines." - Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, in Human Nature Review
"In Gods We Trust is by far the best exploration so far of the evolutionary basis of religious behavior." - James Fox, Prof of Anthropology, Stanford University
"Scott Atran, a cognitive anthropologist and psychologist, presents in this volume a rich, nuanced cognitive-evolutionary account of religion... From this vantage, religion is not doctrine, or institutions, or even faith. Religion ensues from the ordinary workings of the human mind as it deals with emotionally compelling problems of human existence, such as birth, aging, death, unforeseen calamities, and love... I have little but praise for this marvelous book... It does not take long to realize that one is dealing with a formidable mind; Atran is not only a fine writer, his breadth of knowledge and intellectual depth are nothing short of inspiring. This book is one to read slowly and savor. Keep a post-it pad handy, to mark the pages: the scope of this book is so wide-ranging that
whatever your research interest in evolutionary psychology, it is bound to be touched upon at some point in these 400 pages of informative analysis." - Human Nature Review