Tag Archives: breaking the spell

From superstition to religion


The origins of religion are not often discussed. There almost seems to be a taboo against investigation of its origins and development. Daniel Dennett suggested in his book Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon that this may result from a fear that the “tricks” religion uses for its advancement and protection could be exposed.

Consequently the scientific investigation of religion is still in its infancy and there is much work to do. Michael Shermer presents some ideas in How We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God. The comments by Jared Diamond in his book Guns, Germs & Steel : The Fates of Human Societies are also relevant. Consider his description of the transition of superstition to religion resulting from the development of chiefdoms and state societies (p 277): Continue reading

Concorde religion

In his book Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon Daniel C. Dennett contrasts belief in god with ‘belief in belief.’ Some people believe in a god. Some don’t, but they believe that they should believe in a god. Hence ‘belief in belief.’ Dennett discussed this idea, and others from his book, in his talk at the AAI Convention (see video below).

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