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[PDF/EPUB] Evolving Brains Emerging Gods Author E. Fuller Torrey

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Evolving Brains Emerging Gods Read & Download ☆ PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook E. Fuller Torrey ã 4 review Free download Î PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook ã E. Fuller Torrey Roposed by Charles Darwin Torrey marshals evidence that the emergence of gods was an incidental conseuence of several evolutionary factors Using data ranging from ancient skulls and artifacts to brain imaging primatology and child development studies this book traces how new cognitive abilities gave rise to new behaviors For instance autobiographical memory the ability to project ourselves backward and forward in time gave Homo sapiens a competitive advantage However it also led to comprehension of mortality spurr. One of the benefits of deciding to reuest books from NetGalley is that it exposes me to academic science writing than I might otherwise find Thanks to Columbia University Press for letting me read this I m really fascinated by the study of religion from a sociological and anthropological perspective I love to learn about the history of religions and also about how we know what we know Evolving Brains Emerging Gods looks at the origins of gods in the sense of anthropomorphic beings with discrete identities and roles from the perspective of evolutionary neuroscience E Fuller Torrey traces the cognitive development of the human brain over time and attempts to link the advent of specific capabilities increased intelligence self awareness theory of mind introspection and autobiographical memory to the development of the concept of gods The result is an interesting mixture of evolution cognitive neuroscience and religious anthropology although it s probably heavier on the first twoDiscussion of religion aside I found this book very clearly debunks some of the myths and pitfalls that crop up when thinking as a lay person about evolution For example during the introduction Torrey explains that when discussing when certain cognitive developments occurred is always going to be a vague thingArguing that a specific cognitive skill is associated with a specific stage of hominin evolution of course does not mean that this skill developed only at that timeEvolution doesn t have clear dividing lines Torrey reminds us throughout the book that our record is scattered incomplete and biased in terms of what types of materials are likely to be preserved and where we are likely to find them The study of evolution and human prehistory then is fraught with all the complications that this imperfect picture of the past must create Ultimately we have to accept that there are some things we just may never know for certain even if we can come up with a few very compelling albeit competing theoriesI also like how Torrey nudges us away from the simplistic picture of the evolutionary ladder For those of us fortunate enough to actually learn about evolution in schools sometimes we get the mistaken impression that it was a discrete and one dimensional progression from Australopithecus to H habilis to H erectus and so on And indeed at one point this might have been the thinking but science changes even as our schools and textbooks are slow to adaptPreviously it was thought that Homo erectus had descended from Homo habilis but recent archeological research suggests that Homo habilis and Homo erectus lived side by side in what is now northern Kenya for almost half a million years making this evolutionary seuence less likelyAdditionally Torrey does a good job communicating the impressive spans of time at work here H habilis and H erectus lived side by side for 500000 years That s longer than we ve been around as a species and about 100 times longer than we ve had writingOn a related note you really do get a sense of how human development seems to have accelerated dramatically over the past 100000 years We went from nascent tribal groupings to civilizations to spaceflight in what is practically an evolutionary blink of an eye Each cognitive development whatever spurred it on made it easier for the next development to happen Evolution is somewhat random but it is also a series of intense feedback cyclesI also appreciate how Torrey links cognitive development so explicitly to technological and cultural innovation This might seem self evident but we forget this and tend to project our own current cognitive capacity backwards So it wasn t just a case of for X thousands of years no human ever noticed something or tried whatever it was that led to an invention or a new idea As Torrey illustrates it might have been that for that long we were neurologically incapable of noticing or of having that idea or of doing whatever was reuired to make that leapIt s just so weird and wonderful to think about how the structures in our brains literally make us who we are and determine how we can thinkTorrey goes into great detail explaining human evolutionary history As you can see this is what stuck with me most For better or worse the actual thesis how we developed ideas of gods sometimes felt like it was lurking in the background waiting in the wings for us to get far enough along in history for Torrey to really talk about the evidence at hand It isn t until the penultimate chapter or so that we actually talk much about gods per se I don t think this is a fault of the book s structure itself so much as you know the facts available to us Just be aware going in that this is so a book about evolution and neuroscience that just so happens to talk a lot about gods and beliefsThe last chapter very briefly examines some of the other theories most of them sociological that have been proposed to explain gods I don t want to be too harsh here because Torrey up front notes that this is about as short of a survey as you can get and still call it a survey Still it is very concise Of Julian Jaynes famous bicameral mind theory Torrey sums up his dismissal in a single sentence Jaynes s thesis is at odds with almost everything known about the evolution of the human brain Although I lol d at such treatment I was hoping for a bit of a takedown I guess that s what the 40% of the book that s endnotes are for No joke I love a book that is significantly composed of endnotesAnyone who has a basic scientific understanding of human evolution ie you won t find the language in here too difficult will probably enjoy improving the depth of their understanding here If like me you want to learn a lot about the history of religion you re not necessarily going to learn as much as you might think but there s still some good stuff here In the end Torrey succeeds in showing me how the gradual evolution of the human brain played an integral role in our ability to conceive of and use gods whatever they might be

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Evolving Brains Emerging Gods

Evolving Brains Emerging Gods Read & Download ☆ PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook E. Fuller Torrey ã 4 review Free download Î PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook ã E. Fuller Torrey Ing belief in an alternative to death Torrey details the neurobiological seuence that explains why the gods appeared when they did connecting archaeological findings including clothing art farming and urbanization to cognitive developments This book does not dismiss belief but rather presents religious belief as an inevitable outcome of brain evolution Providing clear and accessible explanations of evolutionary neuroscience Evolving Brains Emerging Gods will shed new light on the mechanics of our deepest mysteries. In this book religion is studied as a naturalistic phenomenon The author uses a cross disciplinary approach to understand the development of religious belief and the high god world religions Combining human paleontology primatology archaeology brain research and neuroscience he creates a testable story of the origins of religion As the human brain size expands over several millions years it evolves intelligence self awareness introspection and autobiographical memory The fear of death and a view that dreams are a glimpse of the spirit world drive a belief in an afterlife Ancestors passing on to the spirit world and over generations of worship are transformed into gods With the advent of agriculture and the rise of complex stratified states they become the high gods and serve a functional purpose for control They eventually become integrated to economic military and social aspects of ancient civilizations Is religion a by product of evolution a random and accidental feature of brain evolution or does religion give you human beings a survival advantage This is one of the many interesting uestions of the book The book is split into two parts as the title states Recommended reading

Free download Î PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook ã E. Fuller Torrey

Evolving Brains Emerging Gods Read & Download ☆ PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook E. Fuller Torrey ã 4 review Free download Î PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook ã E. Fuller Torrey Religions and mythologies from around the world teach that God or gods created humans Atheist humanist and materialist critics meanwhile have attempted to turn theology on its head claiming that religion is a human invention In this book E Fuller Torrey draws on cutting edge neuroscience research to propose a startling answer to the ultimate uestion Evolving Brains Emerging Gods locates the origin of gods within the human brain arguing that religious belief is a by product of evolutionBased on an idea originally p. The book argues that the idea of gods appeared after the brain went through five specific cognitive developments significant increase in the brain Homo habilis development of self awareness Homo erectus theory of mind archaic Homo sapiens introspective ability to reflect on their own thoughts early Homo sapiens and autobiographical memory modern Homo sapiens Of course the idea that the emergence of the concept of gods was connected to evolution is not new it was first expressed by Darwin himself The author supports the theory that the most recent evolved brain areas which are termed terminal and are associated with most cognitive skills contributed to the development of the idea of godFor the need of supporting his theory he relies on several research areas1 Studies of hominin skulls for example preserved skulls can tell us about the relative brain size and thus importance of the frontal parietal temporal and occipital areas 2 Studies of ancient artifacts which speak of the overall development of the human species and of their cognitive skills for example when early hominins began creating jewelry from shells so they can be liked by other hominins3 Studies of postmortem brains4 Studies of brain imaging of living humans and primates5 Studies of child development Torrey goes into length describing various theories about ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny meaning that the rate at which certain brain areas have developed throughout human evolution are similar to the rates at which the same brain areas develop in the human fetusTorrey heavily relies on the existence of parallel evolution to support his ideas parallel evolution occurs when organisms that have had a common genetic origin continue to evolve along similar lines even though they have been separated For example parallel evolution is considered the reason for the independent invention of pottery writing animal husbandry etcThe author states that only after the last development people were able to experience death truly like the end of existing and thus to imagine a place where deceased ancestors may still exist Of course that doesn t mean that such cognitive skills were non existed before these specific periods it simply means that in these periods they were sufficiently matured to change an individual or a group s behaviourWith the last development ie autobiographical memory agriculture appeared and allowed for large groups of people to settle The burying of the dead in close proximity with the living helped the ancestor cults and worship mature With passing time these worshipped ancestors became numerous some were even arranged in hierarchies At a certain time some of these ancestors crossed a line and became regarded as gods Not long after that gods were secularized and became a political weapon Torrey writes great for the wider audience he is not one to go easy into hyper interpretations which is great and also rare especially when you deal with such a matter He is critical does not accept light heartedly ideas but presents a variety of them in detail to the reader he even dedicates a whole chapter on other theories about the emergence of the idea of gods When speaking of agricultural evolution he also looks at how it developed in China Africa and Mesoamerica many other authors usually skip that The bibliography is extensive and very very rich from scientific papers on neuroimaging or VENs to books on cave art and its significance

  • Hardcover
  • 312
  • Evolving Brains Emerging Gods
  • E. Fuller Torrey
  • English
  • 18 February 2019
  • 9780231183369