For all the thousands of books that have been written about religion, few until this one have attempted to examine it scientifically: to ask why - and how - it has shaped so many lives so strongly. Is religion a product of blind evolutionary instinct or rational choice? Is it truly the best way to live a moral life?
Ranging through biology, history, and psychology, Daniel C. Dennett charts religion’s evolution from “wild” folk belief to “domesticated” dogma. Not an antireligious creed but an unblinking look beneath the veil of orthodoxy, Breaking the Spell will be read and debated by believers and skeptics alike.
©2006 Daniel C. Dennett (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
Insightful, Accessible and ... Spell-binding (not to be too cheeky)
Thoroughly, this book hits the points so often touched upon by his contemporaries (M. Shermer, J. Campbell, K. Armstrong, S. Pinker, etc.) without getting too off-topic or muddled down in details. Colorful analogies and examples abound.
I am always wary of readers compromising a beloved author's book. Here, Holland (who already sounds quite a bit like Dennett) speaks with personality and style that capture Dennett's wit and adds the punch it deserves. A+
This book attempts to explain religion, not scold it. No play for emotions here, as in the tomes of his fellow "horsemen" (Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens), the mood is that of a philosopher, calm, serene and much more respectful. (not that that's much of a competition) This is, perhaps, the best of the four for a believer taking their first skeptical view.
Recommended follow-up/ companion audio-book:The Evolution of God by Robert Wright. (read by another talented reader Arthur Morey).
Too cautious to foresee all the possible objections that believers may have, the author introduces his subject on at least four chapters before actually addressing it. They are four very interesting chapters, though.
Save that little critique, Dennett makes a very good case for the scientific study of religion as a phenomenon.
A must for every intellectually honnest citizen of the world.
Excellent introduction to the objective study of religion and belief. Dennett is surely the most gentle of the new atheists, almost annoyingly so to someone like myself who read happily through Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens. I realize I am not the only audience here, however. Dennett doesn't spend much if any time making the atheism argument - the book is an intellectual defense of his proposed study of religion as a natural phenomenon. Rather than a book about atheism, this is more like a book on the lens through which atheists see the world and the great problems of civilization. I would definitely recommend Dennett to someone interested in non-religious thought, but for whom Harris/Hitchens/Dawkins might be to shocking at first.
Avid rock climber and adventurer. Lover of sci-fi and Action-Adventure. Advocate of revolutionary thinking.
This is nothing less than a path of inquiry to cure the most dangerous disease of humanity. We can win the War on Terror by finding the cure to a shared delusion that threatens our very existence: Unbridled Religiosity!
Very Thoughtful and Well Reasoned. Dennett leads the reader through the minefield of supernatural faith adroit rationality and articulates his philosophical arguments common-sensically.
A lot of the content was interesting, which kept me reading despite the fact that the author seems overly defensive and even a bit contemptuous at times. As an atheist, I was hoping for a very neutral look at religion in a scientific context, but Dennet's anti-religious bias is just as pronounced, and just as annoying, as "objective" views written by the devoutly religious.
Some interesting concepts were explored - such as the difference between the belief in god vs. the belief in the belief in god, and examples of religion as being evolutionarily advantageous or deleterious. The least interesting parts are definitely his passages defending himself, defending his book, and defending his field. He seems to assume the reader is either a religious fanatic reading his book with flaring indignation or a fellow religion-basher gleefully poking fun at all religious ideas. I was hoping for a more academic approach, perhaps looking at the role of religion in various societies both historically and currently. This book is more about how and why people believe the things they do, and the author's judgments on it.
"Interesting Let down by narrator"
Struggled to finish.Ifound the narrator incredibly boring. Didn't make it interesting at all. Shame Dennett doesn't do it
"I just can't get past the condescending tone"
I am open minded. I listen to books by authors from all walks of life on a variety of subjects. I am interested in humanity and what makes the species tick. I particularly enjoy books on religion by philosophers because they ask questions which open my mind to new possibilities, make me think and expand my world. This book assumes too much. The author spends too much time at the beginning of the book telling me what I would not be willing to do and trying to justify the way he writes without telling me a damn thing. This author claims to be open minded and yet is more pious about his standpoint than most religious advocates. Worse still, the narrator has chosen a condescending tone to voice the authors ideas. Disappointing and hard to listen to.
"Style guide needed"
Interesting substance lost in style meltdown. Dennett would do well to read Pinker's The Sense of Style.
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