Religion Is Not about God: How Spiritual Traditions Nurture Our Biological Nature and What to Expect When They Fail

Religion Is Not about God: How Spiritual Traditions Nurture Our Biological Nature and What to Expect When They Fail

Religion Is Not about God: How Spiritual Traditions Nurture Our Biological Nature and What to Expect When They Fail

Religion Is Not about God: How Spiritual Traditions Nurture Our Biological Nature and What to Expect When They Fail

Synopsis

"Volumes have been written attempting to prove the existence or nonexistence of supernatural being(s). So, if religion is not about God, then what on earth is it about?" "In this book, Loyal Rue contends that religion, very basically, is about us. Successful religions are narrative (myth) traditions that influence human nature so that we might think, feel, and act in ways that are good for us, both individually and collectively. Through the use of images, symbols, and rituals, religion promotes reproductive fitness and survival through the facilitation of harmonious social relations." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

I grew up in a home where the religious life was taken very seriously, and where the assumption that religion was all about God was never challenged. But somewhere along the line I began to see that behind the stories, hymns, and prayers there were serious human motives at work. Without these motives, I reasoned, there would be no religion. It was then a short step to the conclusion that human motives were ultimately both the source and the substance of the religious life. Religion was not really about God after all. Oddly enough, I have no clear recollection of when or how this fundamental change in perspective took place. It just occurred to me one day that I had been thinking this way for many years. From that day onward it was just a matter of time before this book would appear.

This book has been helped along by many conversation partners over the years. There is no way to list them all, but the ones that come most quickly to mind include the following: Thomas Berry, David Bishop, Michael Cavanaugh, Eric Chaisson, Terrence Deacon, Ursula Goodenough, John Grim, Marc Hauser, Philip Hefner, Jerome Kagan, Gordon Kaufman, Alan Macdonald, Bill Orme-Johnson, V. V. Raman, Philip Reitan, Michael Ruse, Conrad Røyksund, Kent Simmonds, Tex Sordahl, Terry Sparkes, Philemon Sturges, Lawrence Sullivan, Brian Swimme, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Edward O. Wilson, and Richard Wrangham.

In addition, the 1997-1998 fellows at Harvard's Center for the Study of World Religions were particularly helpful, as have been members of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science. Periodic financial support from the John M. Templeton Foundation has been most helpful and greatly appreciated. Audra Wolfe, science editor at Rutgers University Press, deserves my gratitude for her expertise and support. a special thanks goes to Jennifer Tomscha for putting finishing touches on the manuscript and to Lyman Lyons for his able and meticulous copyediting. Finally, and yet again, I thank my family for their loving endurance and support.

Decorah, Iowa Spring 2004 . . .

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