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A Tufts University professor explores the nature of faith and how religion shapes everyday life and the future, addressing controversial issues about the relevance and rational qualities of faith while tracing the history of organized religion from its roots in folk beliefs to its key role in modern issues. By the author of Darwin''s Dangerous Idea. 60,000 first printing.

From Publishers Weekly

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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Scientific American

If nowhere else, the dead live on in our brain cells, not just as memories but as programs— computerlike models compiled over the years capturing how the dearly departed behaved when they were alive. These simulations can be remarkably faithful. In even the craziest dreams the people we know may remain eerily in character, acting as we would expect them to in the real world. Even after the simulation outlasts the simulated, we continue to sense the strong presence of a living being. Sitting beside a gravestone, we might speak and think for a moment that we hear a reply. In the 21st century, cybernetic metaphors provide a rational grip on what prehistoric people had every reason to think of as ghosts, voices of the dead. And that may have been the beginning of religion. If the deceased was a father or a village elder, it would have been natural to ask for advice—which way to go to find water or the best trails for a hunt. If the answers were not forthcoming, the guiding spirits could be summoned by a shaman. Drop a bundle of sticks onto the ground or heat a clay pot until it cracks: the patterns form a map, a communication from the other side. These random walks the gods prescribed may indeed have formed a sensible strategy. The shamans would gain in stature, the rituals would become liturgies, and centuries later people would fill mosques, cathedrals and synagogues, not really knowing how they got there. With speculations like these, scientists try to understand what for most of the world’s population needs no explanation: why there is this powerful force called religion. It is possible, of course, that the world’s faiths are triangulating in on the one true God. But if you forgo that leap, other possibilities arise: Does banding together in groups and acting out certain behaviors confer a reproductive advantage, spreading genes favorable to belief? Or are the seeds of religion more likely to be found among the memes—ideas so powerful that they leap from mind to mind? In Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, Daniel Dennett, director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, has embarked on another of his seemingly impossible quests. His provocatively titled book Consciousness Explained made a persuasive effort to do just that. More recently, in Freedom Evolves, he took on free will from a Darwinian perspective. This time he may have assumed the hardest task of all—and not just because of the subject matter. Dennett hopes that this book will be read not just by atheists and agnostics but by the religiously faithful—and that they will come to see the wisdom of analyzing their deepest beliefs scientifically, weeding out the harmful from the good. The spell he hopes to break, he suggests, is not religious belief itself but the conviction that its details are off-limits to scientific inquiry, taboo. "I appreciate that many readers will be profoundly distrustful of the tack I am taking here," he writes. "They will see me as just another liberal professor trying to cajole them out of some of their convictions, and they are dead right about that—that’s what I am, and that’s exactly what I am trying to do." This warning comes at the end of a long, two-chapter overture in which Dennett defends the idea that religion is a fit subject for scrutiny. The question is how many of the faithful will follow him that far. For those who do not need to be persuaded, the main draw here is a sharp synthesis of a library of evolutionary, anthropological and psychological research on the origin and spread of religion. Drawing on thinkers such as Pascal Boyer (whose own book is called Religion Explained) and giving their work his own spin, Dennett speculates how a primitive belief in ghosts might have given rise to wind spirits and rain gods, wood nymphs and leprechauns. The world is a scary place. What else to blame for the unexpected than humanlike beings lurking behind the scenes? The result would be a cacophony of superstitions— memes vying with memes—some more likely to proliferate than others. In a world where agriculture was drawing people to aggregate in larger and larger settlements, it would be beneficial to believe you had been commanded by a stern god to honor and protect your neighbors, those who share your beliefs instead of your DNA. Casting this god as a father figure also seems like a natural. Parents have a genetic stake in giving their children advice that improves their odds for survival. You’d have less reason to put your trust in a Flying Spaghetti Monster. At first this winnowing of ghost stories would be unconscious, but as language and self-awareness developed, some ideas would be groomed and domesticated. Folk religion would develop into organized religion, Dennett suggests, somewhat the way folk music bloomed into the music of today. The metaphor is hard to resist. "Every minister in every faith is like a jazz musician," he writes, "keeping traditions alive by playing the beloved standards the way they are supposed to be played, but also incessantly gauging and deciding, slowing the pace or speeding up, deleting or adding another phrase to a prayer, mixing familiarity and novelty in just the right proportions to grab the minds and hearts of the listeners in attendance." Like biological parasites, memes are not necessarily dependent on the welfare of their hosts. One of the most powerful fixations, and one that may have Dennett flummoxed, is that it is sacrilegious to question your own beliefs and an insult for anyone else to try. "What a fine protective screen this virus provides," he observes, "permitting it to shed the antibodies of skepticism effortlessly!" Asides like this seem aimed more at fellow skeptics than at the true believers Dennett hopes to unconvert. A better tack might be for him to start his own religion. Meanwhile his usual readers can deepen their understanding with another of his penetrating books.

George Johnson, a 2005 Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellow in Science and Religion, is author of Fire in the Mind: Science, Faith, and the Search for Order and six other books.

From Bookmarks Magazine

The debate about Daniel C. Dennett''s new book has been lively from the get-go. Dennett has already had cause to respond to the New York Times regarding Leon Wielseltier''s reduction of his book to "a merry anthology of contemporary superstitions." Wielseltier''s charge of scientism ("the view that science can explain all human conditions") is one that Dennett admits wholeheartedly; the author of Consciousness Explained (1991) and Darwin''s Dangerous Idea (1995) just doesn''t care to have his philosophy so summarily dismissed as an "ism." In fact, honest criticism about the book is obscured by the attack on Dennett''s ideas. Most reviewers concur that Breaking the Spell presents an intriguing argument for the scientific investigation of religion but that the author''s difficult prose and prejudices bog it down.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

From Booklist

A century and a half after Darwin rattled religionists with his revolutionary theory of human origins, one of his disciples has intensified the challenge to faith by advancing an evolutionary account of religion itself. Weaving together research in anthropology, genetics, and psychology, Dennett argues that religion first emerged not as a divine gift but rather as a thoroughly natural adaptation for enhancing the reproductive success of the species. Even more provocatively, Dennett further argues that religion--like language--has subsequently evolved so as to ensure its own survival in the ceaseless winnowing of cultural mutations. The pious in most faiths will likely protest that this approach gives only the husk, not the spirit, of religion, but Dennett insists that his study will ultimately benefit society by exposing the myths that empower fanatical terrorists. Remarkably bold, Dennett''s agenda includes plans for preventing overzealous parents from instilling their faith in their children and for deploying the technology of mass advertising to foster religious doubt. A book certain to spark heated controversy. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Daniel C. Dennett is a professor and director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. His many books include Darwin''s Dangerous Idea and, most recently, Freedom Evolves.

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4.3 out of 54.3 out of 5
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T. V. Robertson
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Preaching to the Epistemological Divide
Reviewed in the United States on November 12, 2017
As a person fascinated with, though uncompelled by, religion, I throughly enjoyed Dennett''s articulate exploration of religion as a natural phenomenon. Yes, as other reviewers have noted, some of the sections ramble a bit, however I found this easy to take, as Dennett''s... See more
As a person fascinated with, though uncompelled by, religion, I throughly enjoyed Dennett''s articulate exploration of religion as a natural phenomenon. Yes, as other reviewers have noted, some of the sections ramble a bit, however I found this easy to take, as Dennett''s writing was always worth following. While Dennett describes a well-thought-out and interesting point of view, the book also illuminates the thoughts of others on the subject of religion, and facts of the natural world that might bear on how we look at religion. This made the book a much richer experience than if Dennett simply made his arguments.

As for Dennett''s arguments, I think they show real insight and genuine concern for the human condition. However, I was left with the sense that while Dennett''s microscope uncovers many important facets of religion, he may be missing the point that the central difference between a religious person and a "bright" like Dennett is their epistempology - their stance on what is the source of truth. Dennett asserts often in the book that the religious have an obligation to justify their views, but he wants them justified on his terms, reason, not theirs, personal revelation.

Dennett quotes Avery Cardinal Dulles who writes that ".... the key question is how God comes to us and opens up a world of meaning not accessible to human investigative powers. The answer, I suggest is testimony ... Personal testimony calls for an epistemology quite distinct from the scientific, as commonly understood." The point of view expressed by this quote seems to me on target, and essential to understanding religion as a natural phenomenon, however Dennett won''t have it. When Dulles later in his writing acknowledges the value of science, Dennett derides Dulles for "cherry picking", relying on science only when it helps his cause (p. 364).

I think what Dennett really wants, to put religion under clear-eyed scrutiny, is "... not to bulldoze people with science, but to get them to see things they already know, or could know, have implications for how they should want to respond to the issues under discussion." (p. 378) In other words, to acknowledge the importance of reason to human life in general, and in considering religion in particular. If Dennett wants to convert the converted, he needs to convert their epistemology.
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Steven Haack
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
From Cradle Catholic to a Pseudo Religion to a Skeptic
Reviewed in the United States on October 15, 2016
I am posting a letter that I wrote to my siblings as a review of this "enlightening book." Dear J & J, Friday night, I decided to slowly read through a book on "religion as a natural phenomenon. As long as I have been in religious circles,... See more
I am posting a letter that I wrote to my siblings as a review of this "enlightening book."

Dear J & J,

Friday night, I decided to slowly read through a book on "religion as a natural phenomenon. As long as I have been in religious circles, no one has attempted to explain to me or even discuss where this idea of religion originated. However, not all religions are the same in regards to intent. Dr. Dennett wrote that sharks and dolphins may have similar attributes and can swim in the same waters, however, as often observed, the shark’s intent is definitely not the same as a dolphin.

In his book “Breaking the Spell” by Daniel C. Dennett wrote “Religious cults (or pseudo religions) and political fanatics are not the only casters of evil spells today. Think of the people who are addicted to drugs, or gambling, or alcohol, or child pornography.” Dr. Dennett also states that religion in America is not the same as religions in other countries.

It seems that religion is important to most of our family members and many Americans. Just look at all the televangelists begging for money and getting it. I might suggest that all of us step back and look at the idea of what is religion in the first place. I suggest not waiting until you are lying in bed sick or lying in bed dying before you attempt to understand this idea of religion. Just because it has been handed down to us through traditions does not make it correct in the first place.

In fact, Jesus practiced a lesson similar to Socrates; as a teacher, he never put someone down because a student does not agree. Thomas is known as doubting Thomas and Jesus never put him down; I prefer to call Thomas a skeptic. In my experience, healthy skepticism might have kept me from participating in a pseudo religion for thirteen years. In my view, healthy skepticism is another way of saying "intellectual honesty." One thing I know for sure is that nothing in life to a human is certain, nothing. None of us really knows anything for sure.

This book is well worth the read for true believers and skeptics.
Good luck to you all.
Steven L. H.
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WisGuy
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I will borrow from Mark Twain here: Chloroform in print.
Reviewed in the United States on April 27, 2019
Mark Twain said of the Book of Mormon that it was chloroform in print. Daniel Dennett has managed to outdo Joseph Smith in producing the most boring book in history; this is truly chloroform in print. What is presented here in 400+ pages could have easily been distilled... See more
Mark Twain said of the Book of Mormon that it was chloroform in print. Daniel Dennett has managed to outdo Joseph Smith in producing the most boring book in history; this is truly chloroform in print. What is presented here in 400+ pages could have easily been distilled into less than 100 pages. You''ve been warned !
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Martin Lee Collin
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
''Spiritual'' vis-a-vis ''Religious'' Feelings
Reviewed in the United States on September 18, 2017
An outstanding exposition regarding the source of religious feelings and resultant religious institutional structure. Dennett skillfully accounts for the means by which such religious institutions impose themselves on society and gives clear answers as to the difference... See more
An outstanding exposition regarding the source of religious feelings and resultant religious institutional structure. Dennett skillfully accounts for the means by which such religious institutions impose themselves on society and gives clear answers as to the difference between ''spiritual'' vis-a-vis ''religious'' feelings. As a scientist, this book significantly assisted me in finding a means to fulfill my spiritual needs despite being unable to envision anything ''supernatural'' in this natural world.
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David SwanTop Contributor: Batman
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great Ideas, Weak Delivery
Reviewed in the United States on August 21, 2015
Let me start by saying that Daniel Dennett and I are on the same side of the intellectual fight but as a reviewer I need to be honest in my assessment. There are many ways one might going about selling atheism. In the case of Sam Harris he seems more interested in lobbing... See more
Let me start by saying that Daniel Dennett and I are on the same side of the intellectual fight but as a reviewer I need to be honest in my assessment. There are many ways one might going about selling atheism. In the case of Sam Harris he seems more interested in lobbing bombs and roiling the troops than actually persuading the other side. Christopher Hitchens was an equally heavy hitter but he was much more charismatic and a terrific showman. Even those who virulently opposed Hitchens views were often entertained. By contrast, Dennett is much more professorial. After watching a bunch of Hitchens debates it was clear he crafted his message and went for audience responses. Dennett’s book feels more like a college lecture. Don’t get me wrong, his message is great and sometimes brilliant but this book desperately needed some paring down and added punch.

Daniel Dennett is an intellectual, not a showman. The title ‘Breaking the Spell’ refers to the idea of pulling back the curtain on religion and exposing it as a myth and he compares it to the realization that Santa Claus isn’t real. The entire first chapter is devoted to the question of whether it is ethically responsible to study religion in a scientific manner and the chapter is long and not the least bit riveting. Dennett is so long winded that I frequently find myself zoning out. He circles the block over and over just to get to his destination when he could have just stated his point and moved on. As an example of how unconnected it sometimes feels like Dennett is he defended the ‘Bright’ movement, a movement I found to be ludicrous and embarrassing. Unsurprisingly I never really hear anyone using the term “bright” anymore.

There is a lot of good ideas in the book that I’m sure contemplative atheists will find themselves agreeing with. His book contains intellectual ammunition that atheists can use to defend their own beliefs or punch holes in the beliefs of religionists. He also remains casual enough not to immediately chase away anyone sitting on the fence. I just wish the book had been more engrossing and less dry and dusty.
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Joe
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I wasn''t the target audience
Reviewed in the United States on April 30, 2013
Dennett seems like he''d be one of the nicest people you would ever meet. He is not polarizing like, say Dawkins, but that also gives him the ability to reach a broader audience. That, unfortunately, may be where he lost some steam with me in this book. I felt like his... See more
Dennett seems like he''d be one of the nicest people you would ever meet. He is not polarizing like, say Dawkins, but that also gives him the ability to reach a broader audience. That, unfortunately, may be where he lost some steam with me in this book. I felt like his detailing his argument parameters left me often saying, "I know, let''s get to it." Therein lies the problem I had with this book, I wasn''t the target audience. The book really seemed to be geared to those who have not really examined their position on faith and belief or are just starting to. I did so long ago so this book only added nuggets of supporting information for my convictions.

As a philosopher, he is stunningly detailed in his mapping an argument and his approach is very even handed. This makes him accessible to those who are intellectual and also wanting to take an honest look at the arguments on faith, etc. Dennett doesn''t demonize or mock peoples beliefs but rather just lays the arguments out for reasonable discussion. However, Dennett is so thorough he comes off as a bit meandering and boring if you already know where he''s going. But, if you are new to the arguments or material then you will probably enjoy this hard work.

I didn''t like the idea of grouping "freethinkers" as "brights" for two reasons: 1. It simply seems a little corny; 2. It implicitly suggests those who believe are "dims." Again, where ND Tyson and Dennett shine (as did Sagan so perfectly) is their non-offensive approach which allows people to process the information without tuning out due to perceived insult. This is the role of the educator.

In the end, I think I prefer listening to Dennett in a lecture setting more than his writing as the time constraints force him to be quicker to the point. But again, for those who enjoy philosophy or simply want a robust, yet unoffensive, argument on faith and belief this book will likely serve them well
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J. Harvey
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Respectful, thought provoking discussion on religion, it''s history and it''s future.
Reviewed in the United States on December 9, 2014
Dennett takes us on what amounts to a sort of rough draft, or outline of his hypothesis on how traditional folk religions first developed and then ''culturally evolved'' into the sophisticated religions that are popular amongst humanity today. This book will be of great... See more
Dennett takes us on what amounts to a sort of rough draft, or outline of his hypothesis on how traditional folk religions first developed and then ''culturally evolved'' into the sophisticated religions that are popular amongst humanity today. This book will be of great interest to all thinking people, religious or otherwise, who like to think about how our world works. Dennett is up front about the limitations of his ideas and asks as many questions as he does make statements about the matter at hand. The book wraps up with Dennett discussing how we might go about answering some of the questions he puts forward through out. It''s in no way a ''religion bash'' like Dawkins et al might write and in fact probably the most thought provoking writing on the subject of religion I''ve come across.
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socraticmethod
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Another addition
Reviewed in the United States on July 23, 2013
The most concise, clear, and undeniable (if you allow yourself to read it) thesis on just how we became enamored with folk, traditional, and finally organized religion, I''ve ever read. I believe it allows "the faithful" something they maybe haven''t had before: A way... See more
The most concise, clear, and undeniable (if you allow yourself to read it) thesis on just how we became enamored with folk, traditional, and finally organized religion, I''ve ever read. I believe it allows "the faithful" something they maybe haven''t had before: A way out that is blameless, honorable, and above all without shame. It explains step-by-step the human propensity to want something that some of us know, if not outwardly, then very, very deeply just isn''t there. This book will hold a high place on my altar to atheism. I encourage open-minded believers, and non-believers to read it. Believers will come away KNOWING something more about themselves, not just a blind, unquestioning faith. Non-believers will see further vindication, and maybe encourage fence-sitting agnostics to join the drumbeat.
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Top reviews from other countries

H. McCarthy
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Brilliant argument and fascinating ideas
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 26, 2021
One of the most enjoyable pieces of research I''ve read, packed with dense yet coherent thinking and really relatable. Highly recommended to those of any religious conviction or none. This book challenges faith through logic, and insists that if our faith is more than a...See more
One of the most enjoyable pieces of research I''ve read, packed with dense yet coherent thinking and really relatable. Highly recommended to those of any religious conviction or none. This book challenges faith through logic, and insists that if our faith is more than a belief in magic of mumbo-jumbo, it should be open to rigorous analysis. You may not agree with Dennett''s outcome but you can''t fault his reasoning: an interesting position.
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RR Waller
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A natural phenomenon explored
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 18, 2011
Make no mistakes; this is a scholarly, philosophical tome by a serious-minded and dedicated philosopher who does have a high-horse but he is not on it. The title and opening chapter title tend to give away a great deal about the thinking though; "... the Spell" and "Opening...See more
Make no mistakes; this is a scholarly, philosophical tome by a serious-minded and dedicated philosopher who does have a high-horse but he is not on it. The title and opening chapter title tend to give away a great deal about the thinking though; "... the Spell" and "Opening Pandora''s Box". Spells tend to suggest the irrational under another''s control and all the evils of the world released from "Pandora''s Box" - Pandora, the "all-gifted" - suggests a mind-set. However, do not let this detract from his considered thinking. His first section, divided into three, then sub-divided into fives, examines the nature of religion, its relationship (if any) to science and various linked ideas to the idea of religion as a natural phenomenon but also asking the question "Cui bono"? The second section, divided into eight then sub-divided into up to eight, looks at religion''s early and modern days, the organisation of religion and ends with "Does God Exist?" The best until last? Section three is divided into three sections, sub-divided into fours, beginning with "The Buyer''s Guide to Religions" and ending with "Now What do We Do?" after a short section on Richard Dawkin''s "memes" theory (also explored extensively by Susan Blackmore). The appendices are thirty pages long, notes twenty-three and the bibliography fourteen. This is not an irrational diatribe by an evangelising fundamentalist with a badge stating the agenda, although he does have one and his position is very clear, particularly to anyone who is familiar with his writing. It is a series of inter-connected ideas outlining why he believes what he does and tackling some of the major issues in this arena, e.g. does science have anything to say to or about religion (and "vice versa"?). For reasons I cannot remember but probably more to do with the book''s arrival than a deliberate choice of holiday reading, I found myself carrying it around the Acropolis into the temple of Athena Parthenos,the Erechtheum and Parthenon; anyone who has climbed the Athenean Acropolis in the Greek summer will know it is a struggle not for the faint-hearted. Carrying this heavy tome in an already heavy camera bag made it even more of an adventure. However, on arriving at an even keel, it made fascinating, restful reading in the coffee shop, Dennett and a cooling drink in front, the temples behind.
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Steve
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
More investigation than Polemic
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 17, 2010
In Breaking the Spell Dan Dennett takes the time to set out the scope of his inquiry and to tackle questions in the right order. It feels like a genuine investigation rather than a mere polemic, and while there''s nothing inherently wrong with either approach, this one...See more
In Breaking the Spell Dan Dennett takes the time to set out the scope of his inquiry and to tackle questions in the right order. It feels like a genuine investigation rather than a mere polemic, and while there''s nothing inherently wrong with either approach, this one brings a calm precision to the table. The courteous tone is apparent from the very first question, of whether or not it''s wise to subject religious belief to scientific scrutiny, given the possibility that this might break someone''s spell. What do we endanger if the spell is broken? Is it worth it? With over 300 more pages filled with ''something'', Dennett''s answer is obvious before it arrives, but for a book of this nature, it''s a good starting point. Compared to his atheist cohorts (in particular, his fellow horsemen Hitchens, Harris and Dawkins), Dennett is less interested in attacking religion than in understanding what we can learn about this curious phenomenon, in particular from its origins and development. Objections are pre-empted and answered calmly and persuasively. Statements are qualified and clarified to a degree that might even infuriate some readers. Bringing with him a wealth of evolutionary, anthropological and psychological research, he is never afraid to point out where more research is needed, even if this means holding back from winning an argument. Don''t, however, dismiss Dennett''s book as an apology; it should be welcomed as a rigorous and respectful contribution to the debate.
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Mrs. J. PIRES-OBRIEN
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Dennett admits that religion is a taboo subject and deals with it with great sensibility and respect
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 30, 2015
In this book the American philosopher Daniel C. Dennett shows the incoherence behind the enormous influence that religion has over people, to the point of placing them in some sort of spell. Such incoherence is due to the fact that religion is a natural phenomenon that...See more
In this book the American philosopher Daniel C. Dennett shows the incoherence behind the enormous influence that religion has over people, to the point of placing them in some sort of spell. Such incoherence is due to the fact that religion is a natural phenomenon that evolved in human society alongside other natural phenomena such as conscience, cognition and gregariousness. Dennett admits that religion is a taboo subject and deals with it with great sensibility and respect. Each chapter of this book examines religion through a different angle and the message that emerges in the end is that there is nothing to fear in breaking the spell of religion. Nothing less than the state of the art in evolutionary biology supports the discussions in this book which I thoroughly enjoyed reading.
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Mr.RPN
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Some interesting ideas but quite hard work
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 10, 2011
On balance this book rewards the effort ~ but it really is an effort. The approach is a slightly irritating and an odd mixture of academic, discursive, and occasionally colloquial styles(lots of asides in brackets finishing with an exclamation mark!). Dennett does sometimes...See more
On balance this book rewards the effort ~ but it really is an effort. The approach is a slightly irritating and an odd mixture of academic, discursive, and occasionally colloquial styles(lots of asides in brackets finishing with an exclamation mark!). Dennett does sometimes go off on a tangent and you may find yourself flicking ahead to see when the book will get interesting again. However, if you can get past the ideosyncratic writing there are lots of very interesting ideas and original ways of looking at religion and spirituality. If you enjoyed Richard Dawkins, then this is a new perspective on some of his ideas. It isn''t as easy to follow but it is worth exploring.
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