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How religion evolved : explaining the living dead, talking idols, and mesmerizing monuments

Author: Brian J McVeigh
Publisher: New Brunswick, (U.S.A.) : Transaction Publishers, [2016]
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Why did many religious leaders-Moses, Old Testament prophets, Zoroaster-claim they heard divine voices? Why do ancient civilizations exhibit key similarities, e.g., the "living dead" (treating the dead as if they were still alive); "speaking idols" (care and feeding of effigies); monumental mortuary architecture and "houses of gods" (pyramids, ziggurats, temples)? How do we explain strange behavior such as spirit  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Additional Physical Format: Online version:
McVeigh, Brian J.
How religion evolved.
New Brunswick, New Jersey : Transaction Publishers, 2016
(DLC) 2016020971
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Brian J McVeigh
ISBN: 9781412862868 1412862868
OCLC Number: 932172125
Description: xix, 289 pages ; 24 cm
Contents: ContentsForeword by Marcel KuijstenAcknowledgmentsPrologue: Chasing Ghosts in TokyoPart I: The World According to the Gods1 The Failure of Science to Explain Religion2 Why the Gods Began to Speak3 Divine Voices and Visions as Social AdaptationPart II: When the Gods Spoke and Walked among Us4 The Living Dead: Explaining Entombment and Ancestor Worship5 Towns as the Domain of the Gods6 Temples as Relay Stations: Transmitting Divine Commands7 Talking Idols: Tools of Divine Control8 Mortuary Monuments: How the Gods Awed Their Followers9 Heavenly Ambassadors: God-Kings and Sacred Rulers10 Ancient Civilizations as God-Governed11 Mesoamerica: Theocentric Civilizations of the New World12 Trimming the Theological Tree: Monotheism as Adaptation13 Angels, Divine Messengers, and Swarms of DemonsPart III: When the Gods Fell Silent14 Prayers, Possessions, and Prophecies: Conjuring Up the Missing Gods15 The Gods Depart: The Late-Bronze-Period Dark Ages16 A Change of Mind in the Ancient World17 The Axial Age: The World Reborn without Gods18 Imagining the Transcendent: A New Cognitive Ability19 Introcosm: A New World of Space and Time20 The Self Replaces the Gods21 From Revelation to Reasoning22 When the Gods Still Whisper: Strange Behaviors ExplainedEpilogue: Science and Politics as Neo-ReligionAppendices and Supplementary ChartsA How to Chase GhostsB Explaining Religion versus Explaining Religion AwayC Gods on the Brain: NeurotheologyD The Problem with "Cultural Evolution"E Six Hypotheses of Jaynesian PsychologyF The Limitations of Evolutionary PsychologyG Prehistoric and Historic Mentalities in PerspectiveH Predictable Objections, Rebuttals, and QualificationsI Verification and Applications of Jaynes's TheoriesJ Primitive Psychopolitics and Neurocultural AdaptationK A History of MentalitiesL Population Size of Ancient Towns and CitiesM Dreams: A Form of Conscious InteriorityN Pre-Axial and Axial Ages ComparedO Solving the Mystery of HallucinationsP Autoscopy: Seeing One's DoubleQ What the Gods Can Teach Us: A New Understanding of the MindTimelines of MentalitiesExplanation1 Three Major Shifts in Human Mentality2 Prehistoric Mentalities3 Middle East4 Africa5 Europe6 South Asia7 East Asia8 Southeast Asia9 Oceania10 North America11 South America12 MesoamericaGlossaryReferencesIndex
Responsibility: Brian J. McVeigh.

Abstract:

Why did many religious leaders-Moses, Old Testament prophets, Zoroaster-claim they heard divine voices? Why do ancient civilizations exhibit key similarities, e.g., the "living dead" (treating the dead as if they were still alive); "speaking idols" (care and feeding of effigies); monumental mortuary architecture and "houses of gods" (pyramids, ziggurats, temples)? How do we explain strange behavior such as spirit possession, speaking in tongues, channeling, hypnosis, and schizophrenic hallucinations? Are these lingering vestiges of an older mentality? Brian J. McVeigh answers these riddles by updating "bicameralism." First proposed by the psychologist Julian Jaynes, this theory postulates that an earlier mentality existed: a "human" (the brain's left hemisphere) heard voices of "gods" or "ancestors" (the brain's right hemisphere). Ancient religious texts reporting divine voices were actually recountings audiovisual hallucinations-a method of social control in response to rapidly expanding populations. As growing political economic complexity destabilized god-governed states in the late second millennium BCE, divine voices became inadequate. Eventually, humans had to culturally acquire new cognitive skills (modern religions) to accommodate increasing social pressures: selves replaced the gods and history witnessed an "inward turn." This psychological interiorization of spiritual experience laid the foundations for the world's great religions and philosophies that arose in India, China, Greece, and the Middle East in the middle of the first millennium BCE.

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-In this important and long overdue book, McVeigh resurrects Jaynes's theory on the origin of religion, drawing upon his considerable knowledge and experience as an anthropologist and his decades of Read more...

 
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