Alpha God: The Psychology of Religious Violence and Oppression

Narrated by: Seth Andrews
Length: 10 hrs and 46 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (212 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This book uses evolutionary psychology as a lens to explain religious violence and oppression. The author, a clinical psychologist, examines religious scriptures, rituals, and canon law, highlighting the many ways in which our evolutionary legacy has shaped the development of religion and continues to profoundly influence its expression. 

The book focuses on the image of God as the dominant male in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This traditional God concept is seen as a reflection of the “dominant ape” paradigm so evident in the hierarchical social structures of primates, with whom we have a strong genetic connection.

The author describes the main features of male-dominated primate social hierarchies - specifically, the role of the alpha male as the protector of the group; his sexual dominance and use of violence and oppression to attain food, females, and territory; in-group altruism vs. out-group hostility (us vs them); and displays of dominance and submission to establish roles within the social hierarchy. The parallels between these features of primate society and human religious rituals and concepts make it clear that religion, especially its oppressive and violent tendencies, is rooted in the deep evolutionary past.

This incisive analysis goes a long way toward explaining the historic and ongoing violence committed in the name of religion.

©2015 Hector A Garcia (P)2018 Hector A Garcia

What listeners say about Alpha God: The Psychology of Religious Violence and Oppression

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Incredible.

I am finally able to understand where my low self esteem is rooted. I can't thank the author enough for unveiling the horrible psychology housed in religious faith. Every woman on earth should read this book and put religion where it belongs...in the past.

9 people found this helpful

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Thoughtful

A thoughtful look into alpha-male behavior in the animal kingdom-- humans included-- and how this hierarchical approach to tribal management is reflected in the establishment of religions. Worth reading, or listening to. Beautifully read by Seth Andrews.

4 people found this helpful

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Most Thoughtful Book I've Read This Year

Garcia's theory about the primate alpha male origins of our religious and social institutions explains a wide range of modern phenomena including racism, elitism, xenophobia, terrorism, even economic exploitation. I love the references to the original sources too. I highly recommend the book to all deep thinkers involved in public social discourse.

2 people found this helpful

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Extremely Insightful

This book is well-researched and well written. Seth Andrews delivers an amazing performance in his radio quality voice. this is a must-read for anyone looking to understand the roots of religiosity among us human primates.

2 people found this helpful

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An insightful perspective

I really loved this book. I saw it advertised on a youtube video and decided to look into it and I'm really glad that I read it. I appreciate the way that the author both acknowledges his own perspective and points out when his perspective may be coloring things, but then justifies his position and moves on. I may not come to all of the same conclusions as he did on everything but it really made me think about how people think and act in a context I hadn't considered it before and it may give me a certain perspective and understanding behind behaviors I still find abhorrent. I couldn't understand why people felt hate until I read this and now I think it puts it into perspective. It doesn't make the behaviors behind that view okay but at least I better understand where they're coming from. Hopefully in time a greater understanding of such ideas might put people within the world in a better position to confront destructive and antisocial attitudes with a lens to adjusting the behavior through discourse and knowledge.

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Recommended

Discusses religion, politics, psychology, biology, economy, history, and many more.. helped me get a little better understanding of how the human mind works. It was a bit heavy with all these stories about massacres throughout history.

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Lots of info. may require multiple listens.

Like drinking from a fire hose, lots of info to take in. I liked it.

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Nice take on the human condition

Interesting angle on religiosity and how it has affected our societies. I spend a lot of time studying human behaviors from an evolutionary perspective. This certainly added some thought provoking material. The reader was a little difficult to listen to because he sounded like he was narrating a PBS documentary, not horrible but a bit annoying for me.

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great book. I think I need to read it again there




I think I will need to read the book again, there was so much information.

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A very clear-eyed look

A very clear-eyed view of how our religious practice and belief are likely shaped by our evolutionary psychology

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  • Karol Machalski
  • 11-28-19

great work

definitely loved it, one of the milestone books in its category, will listen again
K

1 person found this helpful

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  • luke
  • 03-08-19

Fascinating

Dr Garcia gives a fascinating perspective of the origins of the human mind and the correlation of religious violence and evolution. A great listen and thoroughly enjoyable.