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The Invention of Religion

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  504 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
In this book, the author explores the question of whether religions were invented by humans or given to us by some other means. It is a scientific look at how ancient humans made sense of the world and the phenomena they encountered around them.

In the past, arguments against the existence of gods have mainly come in the form of scientific inquiries that attempt to show the
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Kindle Edition, 126 pages
Published January 2012 by The Emperor Has No Clothes Press
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lotz
Feb 04, 2016 Lotz rated it it was ok
From what I can tell, Alexander Drake is an independent researcher publishing his work himself. A Google search reveals no professors, scholars, or even journalists by that name. So I find it interesting that his books have become popular. Perhaps this is a sign of things to come. In any case, that means this book did not have to go through any peer review process. So I will step in!

In some ways, The Invention of Religion is like a modernized (and much shorter) version of James Frazer’s The Gold
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Yuki
Apr 22, 2012 Yuki rated it it was amazing
The Invention of Religion is an investigation into the evolutionary origins of religion.

Drake takes us through what almost seems like a mathematical proof (although less confounding) of how religions would have formed in early humans. He uses a “Man on an Island” as an abstract representative for early man—like an unknown in a math equation—and then explores certain psychological phenomena to see how early man would have reacted to certain pressures. The book really goes in depth into the psycho
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Briana
May 12, 2012 Briana rated it it was amazing
One thing that I really liked about The Invention of Religion was its focus on psychology, since that is really the only way we can "know" early man. Each chapter explores new psychological phenomena to see how early man would have reacted to certain pressures and I felt that I could really see the world through their eyes.

Even with its emphasis on psychology, this book delves into other interesting topics like the origins of morality, experiments with prayer, free will, etc.

And I really thought
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KT
Jun 16, 2012 KT rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed The Invention of Religion, because it was very logically written. It is basically an exploration of how religions come to be. It's a really interesting exploration of ancient human psychology.

I felt like this was a much more enjoyable read than other books on the same topic because the author wasn't belligerent. The most interesting thing (for me, at least) was that it read almost like a mathematical proof (although less confounding). While reading this book, I could tell that D
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Timothy Finucane
Jul 06, 2012 Timothy Finucane rated it really liked it

A fairly short concise read regarding evidence that religion is nothing more than a human invention. It does a fairly decent job of laying out the evidence, and though some of the evidence has been around for some time, the author puts it together in one place with this book. I found this book to be a good place to start exploring the concept that religion is make believe and should promise to be a good source for further exploration (see the cited works section). I found the section on NDEs and

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Abhishek Singh
Apr 14, 2012 Abhishek Singh rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
WHATTA a book this is! if you are not prejudiced or have open minded approach to ideas, you will love this book. goes into the deep insights of how, why religion was formed. why do we need it today and in fact do we really need it now?
Book
May 15, 2012 Book rated it it was amazing
Shelves: atheism-religion
The Invention of Religion by Alexander Drake

“The Invention of Religion" is a brief, well-referenced, well-argumented book that provides the most likely psychological mechanisms that led to the invention of religion. As the author notes, “In the absence of knowledge, humans will invent a religion”. This is the perfect introductory-level book for the layperson. The author does a wonderful job of laying down the foundation of his theories and building sound arguments to a satisfying conclusion. Thi
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David Brown
Jan 11, 2013 David Brown rated it really liked it
Drake’s fascinating book explores the origins not of particular religions but religion as a whole. He breaks religion down into various components and explores how these aspects of a faith could have logically begun. Tapping into psychological experiments as a basis for some of the theories, Drake also draws on the hypothetical Man on an Island to support the arguments being put forward. This is not a book saying that religion is wrong, but it does try to convey how religions are built by those ...more
Fred
This is a great book on the origin and natural evolution of religion in humanity. It's a little bit of Child Psychology, Abnormal Psych, Anthropology, Biology, Evolution, Anatomy and Physiology, and other subjects that I'm sure that I am missing. There is a fantastic bibliography in the back of the book that I am sure I will look through again at some point for reading material. (Probably in a few years when I reread this review.)

Thankfully it sticks to science and research and stays away from
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JM
Jun 20, 2012 JM rated it it was amazing
I have read many books on atheism, so I didn't really expect to learn anything new when I picked up a copy of The Invention of Religion, but I was pleasantly surprised. Drake proposes many new ideas that I don't think anyone has written about before and seems to make a very good case that religions are just inventions of mankind. It is also a well-organized book and I highly recommended it for anyone who wants more ammo for debates.
Imran
Aug 22, 2015 Imran rated it it was ok
Shelves: on-my-kindle
The book explains religion and its associated components on the basis of controlled experiments. While such experiments do help to make a systematic study of the subject, I was hoping that there would be more historical evidence for the claims.
At one point the author seems to discourage questioning the theory of evolution; a bad precedent by someone who sets out to question religion which like the theory of evolution has a lot dependent on it. Whether the theory of evolution is correct or not
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Lynda
Apr 11, 2013 Lynda rated it really liked it
This book addresses many of the things that I have been thinking about lately. I would recommend it.
Freddy
Apr 11, 2012 Freddy rated it it was amazing
Excellent! Really gets down to the nuts and bolts of why religions exist.
Rayaan Chowdhury
Jan 06, 2016 Rayaan Chowdhury rated it really liked it
Shelves: psych
Now this book was insightful.

At the core of the book is the age old idea "Man invented religion to explain his surroundings". But what Drake does very well is break that concept down into stages and analyze it layer by layer.

At the center of everything is the Man on an Island, a naive, simplistic individual with no past experiences who lives on an island in isolation. Drake then goes onto the explain how ideas like rituals, deities and structured religious beliefs can come to this Man on an Isla
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Danielle
Sep 26, 2013 Danielle rated it it was amazing
This is the first book that I’ve come across attempting to explain the origins of religion using science by showing why ancient humans might have invented a religion. The argument draws on many fascinating experiments to explain how certain aspects of religion arise. Most of the experiments I had never come across before, so they are even interesting to read about on their own.

The argument is easy to follow since it is broken down into certain “key aspects” of religion, which are then each expl
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Jim
Jun 24, 2012 Jim rated it it was amazing
I had been looking forward to reading this for a long while and I finally got the time this weekend. And I was happy that it was interesting enough to read entirely in one day. I can’t always do that with non-fiction books. The explanations of the “psychological phenomena” are interesting in their own right, but even more so when tied into the whole premise. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this book. It really encourages you to reconsider things you might have taken for granted.
Ishita Priyal
Dec 25, 2015 Ishita Priyal rated it really liked it
An emotionally detached account of why religion was created, thanks to evolutionary principles. Alexander breaks down a thing as complex as religion into components: rituals, deities, belief in afterlife, belief in soul etc. The structure of the book is commendable, considering we are talking about a concept as vague and broad as religion. The author further accounts for how each of these came into existence purely because of human psychology and supports his arguments through scientific experim ...more
Pankaj Singh
Sep 16, 2014 Pankaj Singh rated it it was amazing
The Invention of religion is a magnificent work that attempts to explain the origins of religious beliefs. It's quite impressive how Alexander Drake has managed to explain in great detail his theory behind the origin of religion with the backing of tons of scientific studies, all in less than 100 pages. I don't see any point in summarising this book, as it is short enough to be read in one sitting. But if like me, you are inclined to further research all the studies mentioned in this book, this ...more
Mike
Jun 06, 2012 Mike rated it it was amazing
This is probably the best atheist book I’ve read.

I’ve read a few by Dawkins, but when you read his books you can just tell that he’s a jerk, so you almost don’t want to agree with him even though you do. Drake is a much more objective writer/thinker.


Majid
Jun 15, 2014 Majid rated it really liked it
A marvelous writing with inputs and examples apt for different frames of belief. The example of Man on an Island is a beautiful take and things hypothesized based on this proposition are very wittily put. This is a piece of writing I would like to train myself in writing. The article is a beautiful attack on an age old institution which is built in mortal man’s psyche. This empire of institutionalized plunder of logical thinking is challenged by the simple title of the book. The book has dealt w ...more
Maureen
Oct 04, 2013 Maureen rated it it was amazing
A short 'textbook' style read (but not in a boring way). Each chapter is divided up into different reasons proving that all religions are nothing more than a human invention and the reasons why people do that.
Wilson
Jul 02, 2012 Wilson rated it it was amazing
This highly accessible book is filled with those 'fancy thats' that go over good at parties and it answers all the things you'd want to know about the origins of religions. A fascinating book!
John Scott
May 28, 2014 John Scott rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
There's nothing astonishing or ground breaking in this book and it's as dull as dirt. It is not a good book by any measure.
Brandon
May 14, 2012 Brandon rated it it was amazing
This book is brilliant. A real eye-opener. I think I'm gonna read it again.
Mneera Khaled
Oct 29, 2014 Mneera Khaled rated it it was amazing
An absolute favourite, worth a six-star rating.
BethK
May 24, 2016 BethK rated it it was amazing
Shelves: atheism, nonfiction
This book has an interesting point of view.

It explains just HOW religions developed from the needs for security in early man who had no information. He explains how these develop and are propagated, through conquering people, how superstitions form and how they may become anthropomorphised, and eventually may become a god. And, how that deity can perhaps take over more areas.

He explains how ritual came to have meaning, through coincidence, that coincidence recurring, and the psychological theori
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Don
Despite the perhaps controversial title, this book is more an exploration of psychology and the evolution of how beliefs (including religious beliefs) are formed, evolve, and develop. The book is not a "neutral" examination however; it reads as an argument put forth by the author to convince the reader that religion is something constructed entirely by man. In putting the forth the argument, the author relies both on logic, and the sharing of various experiments that have been done that demonstr ...more
Jerry Smith
Mar 24, 2014 Jerry Smith rated it really liked it
It has long seemed to me to be a central question whenever we discuss religion and their central beliefs: were we created in the image of whichever god we worship, OR was that god actually a deity that was formed by us, in our image? Drake takes a look at this question in psychological terms as a thesis for how most religions formed.

It is a simple approach that is neat in its simplicity. He does a good job of explaining how we might form beliefs and ascribe seemingly random and unconnected event
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Parth Pooniwala
Sep 13, 2015 Parth Pooniwala rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

It's an excellent book, with thought-provoking experiments and conjectures/ideas.
The first few chapters concerning (possible) origins of rituals, deity, soul, and afterlife (The 4 cornerstones of any religion), backed with experiments and scientific studies (done by various people over decades) are stimulating and fascinating.
Last couple of chapters of book deal with morality (is it inherent, or adapted?) and origin on life. These chapters too provide with plenty of food for thought.

Th
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Jess
Jan 04, 2016 Jess rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, atheism
This is a short book, and I quickly devoured it. I found it breaks down the psychology of why humans invented religion (something I've thought on numerous times) very well. It raised a lot more aspects than what I had come up with my own logic, and definitely added new light to my musings.

The logic, when laid out, is surprisingly simple and easy to grasp, I would recommend this to all.
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