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Download Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict by Ara Norenzayan PDF

By Ara Norenzayan

How did human societies scale up from tight-knit teams of hunter-gatherers to the big, nameless, cooperative societies of today--even even though anonymity is the enemy of cooperation? How did prepared religions with "Big Gods"--the nice monotheistic and polytheistic faiths--spread to colonize such a lot minds on this planet? In Big Gods, Ara Norenzayan makes the superb argument that those basic puzzles in regards to the origins of civilization solution every one other.

Sincere religion in watchful substantial Gods unleashed unparalleled cooperation inside of ever-expanding teams, but while it brought a brand new resource of power clash among competing teams. And in a few elements of the realm, societies with atheist majorities--some of the main cooperative and wealthy within the world--have climbed religion's ladder, after which kicked it away.

Big Gods" solutions primary questions about the origins and unfold of worldwide religions and is helping us comprehend the increase of cooperative societies with out trust in gods.

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Extra info for Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict

Example text

A third group of participants were randomly assigned to play the exact same word game, but with words such as civic, jury, and police—­thereby priming them with thoughts of secular moral authority. Then all participants took part in the so-­called Dictator Game, in which each participant could act like a dictator and could choose to share 35 36 Chapter 3 any portion of $10 with an anonymous stranger. They were reassured that their decision would remain confidential, and they would not meet this anonymous stranger, minimizing any concerns about disapproval or retaliation.

In other words, unless a believer is thinking religious thoughts every moment of her waking life, awareness of a watchful God is merely one of many competing imperatives that might influence an action at any given moment. Something in the situation must prompt believers to act according to their religious beliefs.

In the control group, the most common response was purely selfish: the typical player pocketed all ten dollars. In the God group, the norm shifted to fairness: a plurality of participants split the money evenly. • The group that was primed with secular moral authority also showed greater generosity than the control group—­in fact, as much as was found in the God group. As we shall explore elsewhere in this book, this is an important finding that shows that Big Gods are not the only source of prosocial behavior—­secular mechanisms, if they are available and are trusted, can also make people prosocial.

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