Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

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An innovative thinker tackles the controversial question of why we believe in God and how religion shapes our lives and our future.

For a growing number of people, there is nothing more important than religion. It is an integral part of their marriage, child rearing, and community. In this daring new book, distinguished philosopher Daniel C. Dennett takes a hard look at this phenomenon and asks why. Where does our devotion to God come from and what purpose does it serve? Is religion a blind evolutionary compulsion or a rational choice? In "Breaking the Spell," Dennett argues that the time has come to shed the light of science on the fundamental questions of faith. In a spirited narrative that ranges widely through history, philosophy, and psychology, Dennett explores how organized religion evolved from folk beliefs and why it is such a potent force today. Deftly and lucidly, he contends that the "belief in belief" has fogged any attempt to rationally consider the existence of God and the relationship between divinity and human need.

"Breaking the Spell" is not an antireligious screed but rather an eyeopening exploration of the role that belief plays in our lives, our interactions, and our country. With the gulf between rationalists and adherents of "intelligent design" widening daily, Dennett has written a timely and provocative book that will be read and passionately debated by believers and nonbelievers alike.

Title:Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780670034727
Format Type:

    Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon Reviews

  • Manny

    As people who read books on evolutionary theory will know, mice sometimes exhibit bizarre behavior, fearlessly walking into the waiting jaws of cats. They do this because they have been infected by th...

  • Marina Keenan

    To preface my remarks here, I think it is important that I note Dennett's definition of religion and its implications. He defines religion as social systems whose participants avow belief in a superna...

  • Marc

    Because of the rather cumbersome first part, clearly addressed to an American public, I almost gave up reading this book. Fortunately, I did not, because in the second part Dennett gives an overview o...

  • Tucker

    An admirable intellectual, Dennett spends the first several chapters carefully establishing the parameters of his discussion. His book addresses the adherents of organized religion: more specifically,...

  • Rod Hilton

    This was my fourth attempt at reading Breaking the Spell. Back when I first got interested in nonbelief, it was one of four books I purchased physical copies of at the bookstore, along with The God De...

  • Mehrsa

    I am a huge fan of Dennett's other work, but not really this one. He spends most of the book talking about why it's worthwhile for scientists to debunk religion and for religious folks to put their fa...

  • Paul Fidalgo

    I can't recommend this highly enough. This is not an anti-religion screed at all, but comes at the topic of religion as a naturally emerging aspect of humanity in a thoughtful, funny, accessible way. ...

  • Jennifer

    Dennett doesn't offer us much that is new in this book; it's basically a re-presentation of old ideas (we're just robots taking up the intentional stance, religion is a meme to be explained in Darwini...

  • Jamey

    If I understood it, the basic thesis of Dennett's arrogantly titled Consciousness Explained was that consciousness is a phenomenon that emerges from the harmonious orchestration of many smaller, dumbe...

  • Jimmy

    Mr. Dennett is one of the Four Horsemen of Atheism, and a personal hero of mine. In this book, he discusses the need for science to study religion. He points to "an absence of information" about relig...