Religion in Human Evolution by Robert N. Bellah
From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age

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Synopsis

This ambitious book probes our biological past to discover the kinds of lives that human beings have imagined were worth living. Bellah’s theory goes deep into cultural and genetic evolution to identify a range of capacities (communal dancing, storytelling, theorizing) whose emergence made religious development possible in the first millennium BCE.
 

About Robert N. Bellah

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Robert N. Bellah, an American sociologist, received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1955 and teaches at the University of California at Berkeley. He is best known for his work on community and religion. Although he has written on religions in nonwestern cultures, he has focused much of his research on the notion of civil religion in the West. To Bellah, American society confronts a moral dilemma whereby communalism competes with individualism for domination. His most important book, Habits of the Heart (1985), considers the American character and the decline of community. Bellah holds that the radical split between knowledge and commitment is untenable and can result only in a stunted personal and intellectual growth. He argues for a social science guided by communal values.
 
Published September 15, 2011 by Harvard University Press. 784 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality, Education & Reference, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Religion in Human Evolution

The New York Times

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“Our cultural world and the great traditions that still in so many ways define us,” as Bellah points out, “all originate in the axial age.” Bellah devotes a chapter to each of these four great traditions, offering a synthesis of the best available scholarship on the breakthroughs they ac...

Sep 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Religion in Human Evolution: ...

Publishers Weekly

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Regardless of political or religious affiliation, most Americans share similar values, understandings and purposes;

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Publishers Weekly

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In this magisterial effort, eminent sociologist of religion Bellah (Habits of the Heart) attempts nothing less than to show the ways that the evolution of certain capacities among humans provided the foundation for religion.

Aug 08 2011 | Read Full Review of Religion in Human Evolution: ...

ReadySteadyBook

For almost one hundred years, all sociologists of religion have taken Max Weber’s great work on comparative religions as a primary point of departure.

Nov 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Religion in Human Evolution: ...

The Christian Century

Some two decades before Robert Bellah and his colleagues wrote the seminal 1985 book Habits of the Heart, which improved the public conversation about religion and society in the United States, Bellah penned a provocative essay called “Religious Evolution.” He has finally returned to that ambitio...

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The Humanist

For Bellah, American beliefs, rituals and symbols have all the force of a religion, a religion that both transcends and reinforces the traditional religions that Americans may or may not subscribe to.

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http://www.commonwealmagazine.org

I find that there is a significant overlap between what I have bought during the year and what winds up on the Times list of 100 Notable books (I own 25 of the 100 books this year), so some of the titles I bought might be on the Times list if it included more books on religion.

Dec 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Religion in Human Evolution: ...

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