Religion is a by-product of evolutionary psychological adaptations. I read the text of the book first and then read the forward and preface. Low and behold, the book is also a video.   In fact, he made the video first and just expanded it a bit for the book. Whilst my family did not read the book, they did watch the video.

The book does what it says it will do.

The book is an introduction, and it says "concise" on the cover. Remember that when you read it, because it IS an introduction and it IS concise. Taking those two things into account (Introduction and Concise), the book does what it says. It gives you a brief, introductory reason for my humans believe in supernatural deities.

The author's approach is evolutionary psychology.

The author is a forensic psychology by trade and specializes in evolutionary psychology, so the book comes at the answer that way.

He starts with a bit about evolution, and it is just a bit. I think the author went with the assumption that most of his audience would be familiar with the concept of evolution. That seems reasonable to me.

He talks about the following psychological "modules," and points out that religiosity is a by-product of those other modules in our brains.

The "modules" we have, due to evolutionary pscyhology, that religion is a by-product of, are as follows.

  • The attachment system (babies bonding to their mother, ...)

  • The mind/body split (We tend to think of our mind as different from our bodies.)

  • Decoupled cognition (You can think about another person, idea, conversation, ... without being in that person's presence or in the midst of that situation.)

  • Theory-of-mind-mechanisms (We can guess what other people are thinking based on their facial expressions.)

  • Intensionality (Different orders of thinking, like fictional character Tiffany Aching in second order thoughts (thoughts about thoughts) and third order thoughts (thoughts about thoughts about thoughts), are what he means about intensionality. He takes it to five orders of thought.)

  • Transference (We assume that a new cop we meet will behave like other cops we have meant in the past.)

  • Hyperactive agency detection device (We anthropomorphize stuff.)

  • Minimally counterintuitive worlds (You wont' believe that a tree will do your laundry for you, but it's not too far a stretch to believe that a tree might listen to you. You don't have to believe that the tree is doing anything significantly not tree-like.)

  • Self Deception

  • Overreading determination (We have a tendency to ascribe intention to places it isn't really there. If you ask a kid what a river is for, the kid might say "for boats to float on.")

  • Deference to authority (We all submit to authority a whole lot more than anyone would like to admit.)

  • Morality (We naturally have a morality. It's evolved within us. It's the only way society works.)

  • Kin psychology (We give preference to our kin, or people we can think of as kin.)

  • CostlysSignaling (If people pay a cost, we're more likely to believe they believe what they say they do.)

  • Brain chemistry of ritual (Rituals release all sorts of chemicals, including seratonin, dopamine, and endorphins.)

  • Dreams and trances (Dreams and trances provide interesting thoughts. Trances are often induced by drugs of fasting, which release interesting chemicals on their own.)

  • Synchronicity (Doing things with others in the same way makes everyone involved feel better.)

  • Touch (Touch releases lots of chemicals too.)

  • Romantic love

  • Parental investment

  • Mirror neurons (If you watch someone in pain, those same neurons in your brain light up.)

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