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Supernatural Selection


halinsalem
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My non-fiction this week is "Supernatural Selection, How Religion Evolved" by Matt J. Rossano. This book is very psychologically oriented - the author is a Psychology Professor at Southeastern Louisiana University. He goes back 50, 60, and 70 thousand years - kind of fascinating. The text is 210 pages, the notes and bibliography is 76 pages. I don't know if I learned anything, but It does put a different slant on religion, different that is from the theology viewpoint. You will be back in Psychology 101. Many of his sources are archaeological - he does go back 70,000 years.

 

I was put in mind a conversation I had years ago with one of my professors, who had written a text book. He almost apologized for the fact that it was almost 400 pages. He confessed that he could have put everything he knew in 50 or 60 pages, but he said that you could not sell a book with only 50 or 60 pages, so he had to "add a lot of related stuff" in order to please the publisher.

 

Hal

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My non-fiction this week is "Supernatural Selection, How Religion Evolved" by Matt J. Rossano. This book is very psychologically oriented - the author is a Psychology Professor at Southeastern Louisiana University. He goes back 50, 60, and 70 thousand years - kind of fascinating. The text is 210 pages, the notes and bibliography is 76 pages. I don't know if I learned anything, but It does put a different slant on religion, different that is from the theology viewpoint. You will be back in Psychology 101. Many of his sources are archaeological - he does go back 70,000 years.

 

I was put in mind a conversation I had years ago with one of my professors, who had written a text book. He almost apologized for the fact that it was almost 400 pages. He confessed that he could have put everything he knew in 50 or 60 pages, but he said that you could not sell a book with only 50 or 60 pages, so he had to "add a lot of related stuff" in order to please the publisher.

 

Hal

 

This sounds interesting to me. Can you summarize his claim(s)?

 

George

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This sounds interesting to me. Can you summarize his claim(s)?

 

George

Asking me to summarize 210 pages in three sentences is quite a request. However, this author was motivated by much recent research on why people are altruistic and "good" or "moral". Then he went back into archaeological history and combined the two knowledges. In a nutshell, people are more "good" or "moral" when they know they are being watched. If they think they are not being watched they have a tendency to "cheat". The societies that were more moral or altruistic were more successful in ancient times. They accomplished this with gods and ancestor worship and shamanism.

 

The recent research was very interesting to me. For instance, a college cafeteria had an "honest box" in which people voluntarily paid for the meal they picked up. On the wall above the box they always had a large colorful poster or picture. When the picture had "eyes" in it looking out into the room the money donated increased by 30% over the times when the picture was a landscape or floral.

 

This book stays away from theology. It is oriented entirely to psychology, ancient history, and recent research.

 

Hal

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