The God Instinct explores how people's everyday thoughts, behaviours and emotions betray an innate tendency to reason as though God were deeply invested in their public lives and secret affairs.
In this entertaining and thought-provoking book, Jesse Bering unravels the evolutionary mystery of why we grapple for meaning, purpose and destiny in life. He argues that God is not merely an idea to be entertained or discarded based on the evidence. Nor is God a cultural invention, an existential band-aid, an opiate of the masses. Instead, Bering proposes, God is a way of thinking - one that evolved through our ancestors, millions of years ago, to keep us in check and give us the edge on our competitors.
While a belief in higher forces may seem ridiculous to some, The God Instinct shows that it is hardwired into our genetic make-up, and carries with it massive evolutionary benefits.
A lovely read, wise and fascinating. - Derren Brown, English illusionist
Blending empirical evidence from seminal research with literary allusions and cultural critique, Bering examines the central tenets of spirituality, from life's purpose to the notion of an afterlife, in a socio-theological context underlined by the rigor of a serious scientist. - The Atlantic (The 11 Best Psychology Books of 2011)
A balanced and considered approach to this often inflammatory topic, [Bering] explains why this religious trait has evolutionary benefits and why it sets us apart from other animals. - Nature
Witty, crammed with pop-culture references... his arguments seem like common sense rather than the hard-earned scientific insights they really are. This fascinating book presents gentle, nuanced but convincing arguments for atheism. - The New Scientist
Eloquently argued and engagingly written. - Brain Pickings
Since God didn't exist, our human ancestors found it necessary to invent him. In this scintillating book, Jesse Bering explains, with characteristic wit and wisdom, how, in the course of human evolution, God returned the compliment -- by helping individuals, despite themselves, lead better lives.
Why do human beings instinctively need a god to believe in? Evolutionary psychologist Jesse Bering's unravelling of an old riddle is subtle, intelligent and surprisingly read