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Breaking the Spell
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About the Author

Daniel C. Dennett is University Professor, professor of philosophy, and co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. His books include From Bacteria to Bach and Back, Freedom Evolves, Consciousness Explained and Darwin's Dangerous Idea, a finalist for the National Book Award.

Reviews

Who better than the director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts and the author of books like Darwin's Dangerous Ideas to consider why so many people follow a faith. With an eight-city tour. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

In his characteristically provocative fashion, Dennett, author of Darwin's Dangerous Idea and director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, calls for a scientific, rational examination of religion that will lead us to understand what purpose religion serves in our culture. Much like E.O. Wilson (In Search of Nature), Robert Wright (The Moral Animal), and Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene), Dennett explores religion as a cultural phenomenon governed by the processes of evolution and natural selection. Religion survives because it has some kind of beneficial role in human life, yet Dennett argues that it has also played a maleficent role. He elegantly pleads for religions to engage in empirical self-examination to protect future generations from the ignorance so often fostered by religion hiding behind doctrinal smoke screens. Because Dennett offers a tentative proposal for exploring religion as a natural phenomenon, his book is sometimes plagued by generalizations that leave us wanting more ("Only when we can frame a comprehensive view of the many aspects of religion can we formulate defensible policies for how to respond to religions in the future"). Although much of the ground he covers has already been well trod, he clearly throws down a gauntlet to religion. (Feb. 6) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Ambitious . . . an accessible account of what might be called the natural history of religion." --The New Yorker "How would a visitor from Mars dispassionately explain human religion? . . . My guess is that the result would be something like this crystal-clear, constantly engaging, and enjoyable new book." --Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse "Rich and rewarding . . . the main business of the book is to give a scientific account of how religion may have developed among creatures such as us. . . . The product of an extremely bright mind." --San Francisco Chronicle "An elegant, sharp-minded essay on the need to study religion in a dispassionate way." --The Economist "Penetrating . . . a sharp synthesis of a library of evolutionary, anthropological and psychological research on the origin and spread of religion." --Scientific American

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