23rd out of 38 books — 12 voters
Creation of the Sacred: Tracks of Biology in Early Religions
Sacrifice - ranging from the sacrifice of virgins to circumcision to giving up what is most valued - is essential to all religions. Could there be a natural, even biological, reason? Why are sacrifice and numerous other religious rituals and concepts shared by so many different cultures? In this book, the author explores the possibility of natural religion. It provides ins...more
Paperback, 270 pages
Published January 13th 1998 by Harvard University Press
(first published May 1st 1996)
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Essential Readings in the Cognitive Science of Religion
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Fine book as it goes, developed out of the giffords lectures. This is basically a structuralist approach to religion as a natural, biological development of order imposed on the existing chaos. Great command of Greek texts, less so of others, but the whole account is theoretically un-sophisticated and premised on the rejection of much of current critical theory (e.g., religion is assumed to be universal and a reified category of sorts, structuralism is basically the theoretical model adopted wit...more
The prose is somewhat stilted in this book. This is a translation from German and it isn't all that great. However, the ideas contained herein are worth the little extra effort it takes to read. I'm not so sure that Burkert's hypotheses about the evolutionary psychology of religion are all that robust, but they are on the right track. His explanation of sacrifice alone makes reading the book worthwhile.