Books by Subject


Darwin's Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society
by David Sloan Wilso

Product Details

From the Publisher
One of the great intellectual battles of modern times is between evolution and religion. Until now, they have been considered completely irreconcilable theories of origin and existence. David Sloan Wilson's Darwin's Cathedral takes the radical step of joining the two, in the process proposing an evolutionary theory of religion that shakes both evolutionary biology and social theory at their foundations.

The key, argues Wilson, is to think of society as an organism, an old idea that has received new life based on recent developments in evolutionary biology. If society is an organism, can we then think of morality and religion as biologically and culturally evolved adaptations that enable human groups to function as single units rather than mere collections of individuals? Wilson brings a variety of evidence to bear on this question, from both the biological and social sciences. From Calvinism in sixteenth-century Geneva to Balinese water temples, from hunter-gatherer societies to urban America, Wilson demonstrates how religions have enabled people to achieve by collective action what they never could do alone. He also includes a chapter considering forgiveness from an evolutionary perspective, and concludes by discussing how all social organizations, including science, could benefit by including elements of religion.

Religious believers often compare their communities to single organisms and even to insect colonies. Astoundingly, Wilson shows that they might be literally correct. Intended for any educated reader, Darwin's Cathedral will change forever the way we view the relations among evolution, religion, and human society.

Click here to learn more or purchase from

Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea
by Carl Zimmer, Stephen Jay Gould, (Introduction), Richard Hutton
Hardcover - 320 pages 1 Ed edition (September 4, 2001)
HarperCollins; ISBN: 0060199067 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.30 x 10.33 x 8.37

Other Editions: Audio Cassette (Abridged), Audio CD (Abridged) VHS Video Box Set -- PBS Television Series.


Abraham on Trial : The Social Legacy of Biblical Myth
By Carol Lowery Delaney
Hardcover - 296 pages (November 1998)
Princeton Univ Pr; ISBN: 0691059853 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.08 x 9.47 x 6.43
Abraham on Trial: The Social Legacy of Biblical Myth analyzes the Father of Faith as a progenitor of pathology. Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac, argues author Carol Lowery Delaney, left an ethical legacy of abuse that has overpowered the biblical imperative to protect and nurture one's children. Delaney finds this legacy not only in the violence between sibling religions Abraham spawned (Islam and Judaism) but also in subtler realms. Most importantly, Delaney argues that the Bible endorses without question Abraham's interpretation of God's command to sacrifice Isaac. For Delaney, this endorsement undergirds western culture's assumption that the father is the ultimate authority in a family.

These are provocative ideas, and they will force readers to ponder how Judaism and Christianity have been forces not only of good but also of evil in everyday life.

In the end, the tragedy of Abraham on Trial is not the abusive legacy that Delaney describes, it's the culture that makes such an argument credible--a culture where even sophisticated people like Delaney have a hard time getting past literal readings of stories like Abraham's. --Michael Joseph Gross
Click here to learn or purchase from

Reason for Hope : A Spiritual Journey
by Jane Goodall, Phillip Berman

Hardcover - 320 pages (September 1999)
Warner Books; ISBN: 0446522252 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.10 x 9.33 x 6.32
Other Editions: Audio Cassette (Abridged)

As a young woman, Jane Goodall was best known for her groundbreaking fieldwork with the chimpanzees of Gombe, Africa. Goodall's work has always been controversial, mostly because she broke the mold of research scientist by developing meaningful relationships with her "specimens" and honoring their lives as she would other humans.

Now at the age of 60, she continues to break the mold of scientist by revealing how her research and worldwide conservation institutes spring from her childhood callings and adult spiritual convictions. Reason for Hope is a smoothly written memoir that does not shy away from facing the realities of environmental destruction, animal abuse, and genocide. But Goodall shares her antidote to the poison of despair with specific examples of why she has not lost faith. For instance, she shares her spiritual epiphany during a visit to Auschwitz; her bravery in the face of chimpanzee imprisonment in medical laboratories; and devotes a whole chapter to individuals, corporations, and countries that are doing the right thing. But most of all Goodall provides a beautifully written plea for why everyone can and must find a reason for hope. --Gail Hudson
Click here to learn more or purchase from

Rocks of Ages : Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life (Library of Contemporary Thought)
By Stephen Jay Gould

Hardcover - 224 pages 1 edition (March 1999)
Ballantine Books (Trd); ISBN: 0345430093 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.02 x 8.39 x 5.55
Other Editions: Audio Cassette
Revered and eminently readable essayist Stephen Jay Gould has once again rendered the complex simple, this time mending the seeming split between the two "Rocks of Ages," science and religion. He quickly, and rightfully, admits that his thesis is not new, but one broadly accepted by many scientists and theologians. Gould begins by suggesting that Darwin has been misconstrued--that while some religious thinkers have used divinity to prove the impossibility of evolution, Darwin would have never done the reverse.

Gould eloquently lays out not "a merely diplomatic solution" to rectify the physical and metaphysical, but "a principled position on moral and intellectual grounds," central to which is the elegant concept of "non-overlapping magisteria." (Gould defines magisteria as a "four-bit" word meaning domain of authority in teaching.) Essentially, science and religion can't be unified, but neither should they be in conflict; each has its own discrete magisteria, the natural world belonging exclusively to science and the moral to religion.

Gould's argument is both lucid and convincing as he cites past religious and scientific greats (including a particularly touching section on Darwin himself). Regardless of your persuasions, religious or scientific, Gould holds up his end of the conversation with characteristic respect and intelligence. --Paul Hughes

Click here to learn more or purchase from

Tower of Babel : The Evidence Against the New Creationism
by Robert T. Pennock
Hardcover - 440 pages (March 1999)
MIT Press; ISBN: 026216180X ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.36 x 9.22 x 6.33

The face of creationism has been through some major plastic surgery in the past decade or so. The leading proponents of "intelligent design theory" have left the ranting flat-earth types behind and found respected positions in the academic world from which to launch attacks on mainstream science. Philosopher of science Robert T. Pennock has explored all sides of the ongoing debate, which remains (despite the protestations of many creationists) more about biblical ignorance than scientific evidence. His book Tower of Babel examines the new directions antievolutionist have taken lately, but goes beyond a mere recounting of recent history by proposing a new avenue of counterattack: linguistics.

The parallels are striking once we look closely: Genesis proclaims that God created all human languages at one stroke, while modern scientific thought proposes linguistic evolution similar in form to genetics. Best of all for scientists, though, linguistic change is much more rapid than biological change, and we have actually observed what might be called "speciation events" to have occurred historically in languages. While not meant to supplant traditional arguments against creationism, Pennock's ideas certainly supplement them and will be useful to educators and researchers alike. His sense of urgency is compelling; he sees the future of scientific education and freedom at stake and argues strongly for a separation between private beliefs and public knowledge. --Rob Lightner

Creationism is no longer the simple notion it once was taken to be. Its new advocates have become more sophisticated in how they present their views, speaking of "intelligent design" rather than "creation science" and aiming their arguments against the naturalistic philosophical method that underlies science, proposing to replace it with a "theistic science." The creationism-evolution controversy is not just about the status of Darwinian evolution - it is a clash of religious and philosophical worldviews, for a common underlying fear among creationists is that evolution undermines both the basis of morality as they understand it and the possibility of purpose in life. In Tower of Babel, philosopher Robert T. Pennock compares the views of the new creationists with those of the old and reveals the insubstantiality of their arguments. One of Pennock's major innovations is to turn from biological evolution to the less-charged subject of linguistic evolution, which has strong theoretical parallels with biological evolution both in content and in the sort of evidence scientists use to draw conclusions about origins.

Click here to learn more or purchase from

Religion Explained
by Pascal Boyer
Hardcover - 300 pages (May 22, 2001)
Basic Books; ISBN: 0465006957 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.33 x 9.52 x 6.49

Click here to learn more or purchase from

The Mystical Mind : Probing the Biology of Religious Experience
by Eugene G. D'Aquili, Andrew B. Newberg

Paperback - 240 pages (August 1999)
Fortress Pr; ISBN: 0800631633 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.63 x 8.96 x 6.00

Editorial Reviews
Book Description
How does the mind experience the sacred? What biological mechanisms are involved in mystical states and trances? Is there a neurological basis for patterns in comparative religions? Does religion have an evolutionary function? This pathbreaking work by two leading medical researchers explores the neurophysiology of religious experience. Building on an explanation of the basic structure of the brain, the authors focus on parts most relevant to human experience, emotion, and cognition. On this basis, they plot how the brain is involved in mystical experiences. Successive chapters apply this scheme to mythmaking, ritual and liturgy, meditation, near-death experiences, and theology itself. Anchored in such research, the authors also sketch the implications of their work for philosophy, science, theology, and the future of religion itself.

Click here to learn more or purchase from

Zen and the Brain : Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness
by James H. Austin

Paperback - 844 pages Reprint edition
MIT Press; ISBN: 0262511096 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.86 x 9.99 x 7.03
Editorial Reviews
Take a trip through the topography of the brain, and you're likely to get lost somewhere around the medulla oblongata. Zen can lose you before you've even pretzeled your legs into the lotus position. But a unique neurologist-Zen Buddhist has written a tome that is a map to all the mysteries of meditation and mind. Take breathing out, for example. We spend just over half of our breathing time exhaling. For meditating monks, it's a full three-quarters. EEGs show us that the act of exhaling helps physically quiet the brain. Many other causal connections can be found between Zen practices and the physiology of the brain, and James H. Austin lays them out one by one, drawing from his own Zen experiences and the latest in neurological research. So if you've ever wondered what the corpus callosum has to do with consciousness or how the limbic system contributes to enlightenment, Austin will get your brain racing and put your mind at ease. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Click here to learn more or purchase from

The Humanizing Brain : Where Religion and Neuroscience Meet
by James B. Ashbrook, Carol Rausch Albright, Anne Harrington

Paperback - 233 pages (October 1997)
Pilgrim Pr; ISBN: 0829812008 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.71 x 9.01 x 6.03
Editorial Reviews
The authors raise the question of the connection between the brain's drive to seek meaning and reality and religion. Religion, they argue, links what is immediate in our lives with what transcends and transforms them.

Click here to learn more or purchase from

In the Presence of Mystery: An Introduction to the Story of Human Religiousness.

By Michael Horace Barnes

Twenty Third Publications, Aug. 1983
ISBN: 0896222055
The author, Michael Horace Barnes , May 12, 1997
A book on the nature, function, and evolution of religion.
There are extremely few current books which deal with the evolution of religion, from primitive to early literate to classical to modern. This is a clear and vivid introduction to this topic. Reviewers have praised it highly. Readers tell me it expresses a great deal of their own journey in life
Click here to learn more or purchase from

Darwin's Black Box : The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution
by Michael J. Behe

Paperback - 307 pages (March 1998)
Touchstone Books; ISBN: 0684834936 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.81 x 8.43 x 5.49
Other Editions: Hardcover
Editorial Reviews
Michael J. Behe, a biochemist at Lehigh University, presents here a scientific argument for the existence of God. Examining the evolutionary theory of the origins of life, he can go part of the way with Darwin--he accepts the idea that species have been differentiated by the mechanism of natural selection from a common ancestor. But he thinks that the essential randomness of this process can explain evolutionary development only at the macro level, not at the micro level of his expertise. Within the biochemistry of living cells, he argues, life is "irreducibly complex." This is the last black box to be opened, the end of the road for science. Faced with complexity at this level, Behe suggests that it can only be the product of "intelligent design." --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

Click here to learn more or purchase from

Doing Without Adam and Eve : Sociobiology and Original Sin (Theology and the Sciences Series)
by Patricia A. Williams
Paperback - 224 pages (April 2001)
Fortress Pr; ISBN: 0800632850

Editorial Reviews
Book Description
In this provocative new addition to the acclaimed series, Patricia Williams assays the doctrine of original sin with a scientific lens and, based on sociobiology, offers an alternative Christian account of human nature’s foibles and future.

Focusing on the Genesis 2 and 3 account, Williams shows how its "historical" interpretation in early Christianity not only misread the text but derived an idea of being human profoundly at odds with experience and contemporary science. After gauging Christianity’s several competing notions of human nature—Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox—against contemporary biology, Williams turns to sociobiological accounts of the evolution of human dispositions toward reciprocity and limited cooperation as a source of human good and evil. From this vantage point, she offers new interpretations of evil, sin, and the Christian doctrine of atonement.

Williams’s work, frank in its assessment of traditional misunderstandings, challenges theologians and all Christians to reassess the roots and branches of this linchpin doctrine.

Click here to learn more or purchase from

Why God Won't Go Away : Brain Science and the Biology of Belief
by Andrew Newberg, Md., Eugen G. A'Aquilli, Vince Rause
Ballantine Books (Trd); ISBN: 0345440331

Editorial Reviews
Over the centuries, theories have abounded as to why human beings have a seemingly irrational attraction to God and religious experiences. In Why God Won't Go Away authors Andrew Newberg, M.D., Eugene D'Aquili, M.D., and Vince Rause offer a startlingly simple, yet scientifically plausible opinion: humans seek God because our brains are biologically programmed to do so.

Researchers Newberg and D'Aquili used high-tech imaging devices to peer into the brains of meditating Buddhists and Franciscan nuns. As the data and brain photographs flowed in, the researchers began to find solid evidence that the mystical experiences of the subjects "were not the result of some fabrication, or simple wishful thinking, but were associated instead with a series of observable neurological events," explains Newberg. "In other words, mystical experience is biologically, observably, and scientifically real.... Gradually, we shaped a hypothesis that suggests that spiritual experience, at its very root, is intimately interwoven with human biology." Lay readers should be warned that although the topic is fascinating, the writing is geared toward scientific documentation that defends the authors' hypothesis. For a more palatable discussion, seek out Deepak Chopra's How to Know God, in which he also explores this fascinating evidence of spiritual hard-wiring. --Gail Hudson

Click here to learn more or purchase from

Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence Updated Edition with a New Preface (Comparative Studies in Religion and Society)
by Mark Juergensmeyer

Paperback - 332 pages Updated edition (September 21, 2001)
University of California Press; ISBN: 0520232062 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.89 x 8.95 x 5.99

Click here to learn more or purchase from

God After Darwin: A Theology of Evolution
by John F. Haught

Paperback - 240 pages 0 edition (February 2001)
Westview Press; ISBN: 0813338786 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.65 x 9.02 x 5.99

Other Editions: Hardcover

Click here to learn more or purchase from


Return to Books-by-Subject List