web site hit counter Believers: Faith in Human Nature - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Believers: Faith in Human Nature

Availability: Ready to download

An anthropologist examines the nature of religiosity, and how it shapes and benefits humankind. Believers is a scientist’s answer to attacks on faith by some well-meaning scientists and philosophers—a firm rebuke of the “Four Horsemen”: Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens, known for writing about religion as something irrational and ultimat An anthropologist examines the nature of religiosity, and how it shapes and benefits humankind. Believers is a scientist’s answer to attacks on faith by some well-meaning scientists and philosophers—a firm rebuke of the “Four Horsemen”: Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens, known for writing about religion as something irrational and ultimately harmful. Konner, who was raised as an Orthodox Jew but has lived his adult life without such faith, explores the psychology, development, brain science, evolution, and even genetics of the varied religious impulses we as a species experience. Conceding that faith is not for everyone, he views religious people with a sympathetic eye; his own upbringing, his apprenticeship in the trancedance religion of the African Bushmen, and his friends in Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and other faiths have all shaped his perspective. He concludes that religion does much good as well as undoubted harm, and that for at least a large minority of humanity, the belief in things unseen neither can nor should go away.


Compare

An anthropologist examines the nature of religiosity, and how it shapes and benefits humankind. Believers is a scientist’s answer to attacks on faith by some well-meaning scientists and philosophers—a firm rebuke of the “Four Horsemen”: Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens, known for writing about religion as something irrational and ultimat An anthropologist examines the nature of religiosity, and how it shapes and benefits humankind. Believers is a scientist’s answer to attacks on faith by some well-meaning scientists and philosophers—a firm rebuke of the “Four Horsemen”: Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens, known for writing about religion as something irrational and ultimately harmful. Konner, who was raised as an Orthodox Jew but has lived his adult life without such faith, explores the psychology, development, brain science, evolution, and even genetics of the varied religious impulses we as a species experience. Conceding that faith is not for everyone, he views religious people with a sympathetic eye; his own upbringing, his apprenticeship in the trancedance religion of the African Bushmen, and his friends in Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and other faiths have all shaped his perspective. He concludes that religion does much good as well as undoubted harm, and that for at least a large minority of humanity, the belief in things unseen neither can nor should go away.

30 review for Believers: Faith in Human Nature

  1. 5 out of 5

    Canadian Reader

    “I want to understand faith—its basis in brain function and genes, its growth in childhood, its deep evolutionary background, its countless cultural and historical varieties, its ties to morality, and its many roles in human life . . .” Konner has a background in medicine, anthropology, and neuroscience. Raised as an Orthodox Jew, at the age of seventeen he lost his faith but retained an interest in the religious impulse. Technically an atheist, he’s not a strident one and differs from the well-k “I want to understand faith—its basis in brain function and genes, its growth in childhood, its deep evolutionary background, its countless cultural and historical varieties, its ties to morality, and its many roles in human life . . .” Konner has a background in medicine, anthropology, and neuroscience. Raised as an Orthodox Jew, at the age of seventeen he lost his faith but retained an interest in the religious impulse. Technically an atheist, he’s not a strident one and differs from the well-known “Quartet” of uncompromising non-believers: Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens. Konner asserts that humans are not rational beings, that they’re more or less hardwired for religion, and that religion can be a force for good. Noting that even though fewer and fewer people in the developed world identify themselves as believers (statistics show that with material progress religiosity decreases), Konner is nevertheless convinced that religion will persist in a large minority, perhaps (in some form) in a majority. In his book (whose first three long chapters I read) he promises a scientific look at the evolution and history of faith, interspersed with elements of memoir—personal stories of religious and irreligious encounters. In the few chapters I read, I became impatient with the author’s long-windedness. I also questioned some of his authorial choices. Instead of getting to the point, he tends to meander. For example, he states that as a college freshman he took a course in analytic philosophy that shook the belief out of him. However, the details he provides about this transformation seem extraneous rather than pertinent and supportive. We read about his inattentiveness in class and near failure of the course, and we wade through several abstruse quotations about “being” from Jean-Paul Sartre and others. How these details relate to his loss of faith was beyond me. What I do know is that I was quickly losing confidence in him as a guide and dreading further less-than-compelling “personal stories”. It’s entirely possible that I didn’t give this book enough of a chance. The subject matter interests me, but I wanted sharper, cleaner writing. I felt I was going to be travelling a long and winding road that led mostly to frustration.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Julie Stielstra

    As a definite non-believer and staunch admirer of what Melvin Konner calls The Quartet (Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett and Weinberg), I'm always up for a rousing critique of religious belief. I've also been an admirer of Konner's for decades, from his eloquent "The Tangled Wing" onwards. So I settled very happily into this, a thoughtful, scientific look at faith, belief, and religion from a an anthropological and historical point of view (anthropology being Konner's first area of expertise). His que As a definite non-believer and staunch admirer of what Melvin Konner calls The Quartet (Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett and Weinberg), I'm always up for a rousing critique of religious belief. I've also been an admirer of Konner's for decades, from his eloquent "The Tangled Wing" onwards. So I settled very happily into this, a thoughtful, scientific look at faith, belief, and religion from a an anthropological and historical point of view (anthropology being Konner's first area of expertise). His question almost boils down to: truth or mythology, why do humans seem to need it so much? What is meant by "faith"? Do any animals exhibit "awe"? Can we map in the human brain what is going on with belief or religious experience? What about those magic mushrooms? Does goodness require religion? And if not God, then what? All thoughtfully explored, discussed, and questioned. Fear not, believers. Konner is kind. He mentions "losing his faith" (he was raised in an Orthodox Jewish household) as a teenager, but he doesn't really explain what that means. (The magician Penn Jillette is more specific: he distinguishes between not believing in God and believing that there is no God.) He also felt it was important to raise his kids as Jews (with a non-believing spouse). He is sometimes critical of the Quartet for their disparagement of believers for willful ignorance, or foolish acceptance of what they deem to be fairy tales at best, and outright lies at worst. He tries hard, but the chapter on the neurology of faith, with a lot of talk about A1 receptors, left and right caudate nuclei, etc. is tough going. He is very respectful of the value hospital chaplains bring to suffering patients. And his present wife is a believing Presbyterian, so perhaps that has softened him a bit more. All told, believers and non-believers will find something to illuminate the purpose religous faith might serve among humans. While unlikely to change anyone's mind - and that doesn't seem to be his intent in any case - Konner paints a useful picture of the possible origins of religion, and why (some) people need it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    John

    I liked Konner's "good sense." He's thoughtful. He can see the good and the bad in religion. He explains that, as an evolutionary adaption deeply embed in human brains, religion is not going away, though it might wane. He reminds us that the good that is done by religious people never gets headlines. He explains how people can believe and still be scientists. Konner brings together many strands of academia here: anthropology and neurology and medicine. It is a learned book for lay people. I reco I liked Konner's "good sense." He's thoughtful. He can see the good and the bad in religion. He explains that, as an evolutionary adaption deeply embed in human brains, religion is not going away, though it might wane. He reminds us that the good that is done by religious people never gets headlines. He explains how people can believe and still be scientists. Konner brings together many strands of academia here: anthropology and neurology and medicine. It is a learned book for lay people. I recommend it!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Greg Coad

    The best defense of religion by an atheist I have read. Highly recommend it to anyone interested in the question. In his conclusion he parrallels sports fandom to religion, which seems incongruous to me in terms of outcomes and effects on society. That minor objection aside, a highly readable and engaging treatment of the topic. Loved it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Nothing ground breaking or earth shattering here. Humans have a propensity to belief in the supernatural; might be genetic, might not, definitely cultural, and irrational, does good, does harm. Live and let live.

  6. 5 out of 5

    MH

    I found the idea behind this book really interesting - essentially why an atheist doesn't hate religion - but like another reviewer, I found the book meandered and was more about Konner's spiritual (or aspiritual) journey. So, I stopped a few chapters in. I found the idea behind this book really interesting - essentially why an atheist doesn't hate religion - but like another reviewer, I found the book meandered and was more about Konner's spiritual (or aspiritual) journey. So, I stopped a few chapters in.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    very good

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    A little disjointed.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tashagoodreads

    Difficult read trying to remember all the psychology surveys.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Steve Mayer

    Hated every word of it. Badly written and unpersuasive.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Rudisel

    Religiosity, God-belief and such, is an emergent property of several diverse brain regions and circuits (modules) of human brain evolution that was positively selected for by Nature for the successful thriving and expansion of largish human groups such as tribes and kingdoms. Religiously attuned brains turn out to have been a rather important component of human evolution. "Religious inclinations and capacities are built into the human brain (evolved into the genes that build brain circuits)—alth Religiosity, God-belief and such, is an emergent property of several diverse brain regions and circuits (modules) of human brain evolution that was positively selected for by Nature for the successful thriving and expansion of largish human groups such as tribes and kingdoms. Religiously attuned brains turn out to have been a rather important component of human evolution. "Religious inclinations and capacities are built into the human brain (evolved into the genes that build brain circuits)—although not universally or uniformly among individuals—with increasingly known pathways and chemistry." Research finds that religious people are happier, more charitable, and make up the majority of the world, that religion binds people together in moral communities. Religion isn't going away anytime soon, it's too integrally "programmed" into a majority of humanity's genetic make-up, so let's keep finding ways to tame the more virulent strains, like has been happening in Western civilization for a few centuries now. An attitude of eradication by atheists is the wrong way of going about this whole discussion about religion. Consilience is the way to go.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Joni

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kermit Carraway

  14. 4 out of 5

    Carol

  15. 4 out of 5

    CBehrman

  16. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

  17. 5 out of 5

    Charles Eaton

  18. 5 out of 5

    Johan Nel

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sara

  20. 5 out of 5

    Terry Freedlander

  21. 5 out of 5

    James R Dennerlein

  22. 5 out of 5

    Talia Bernhard

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tim Donaldson

  24. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Cheresnick

  25. 4 out of 5

    Abby

  26. 4 out of 5

    Erik Summerville

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jerry

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ibrahim

  29. 5 out of 5

    John Joseph Boyle Jr.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michael Williams

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.