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Listen again: Robin Dunbar on How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures

28 April 2023

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On the podcast this week, there’s a chance to listen again (or perhaps for the first time) to a conversation between Professor Robin Dunbar and Dr Mark Vernon. They discuss Professor Dunbar’s book How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures, which is now available in paperback from the Church House Bookshop.

In a review of the book for the Church Times (Books, 29 April 2022), Dr Vernon wrote: “The longstanding tendency has been to treat the almost universal presence of religious beliefs and rituals in human populations as a by-product of human needs, from lessening the terrors of death to bolstering the moral imperatives that support sociality.

“But, instead of treating religions as noble lies or discardable delusions, Dunbar presents the evidence for religious practices’ being a necessary part of human evolution. This necessity is why he thinks that religion will endure and resist secularising pressures.”

Dr Robin Dunbar is Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Anthropological Institute.

Dr Mark Vernon is a psychotherapist and writer. His latest book is Spiritual Intelligence in Seven Steps (Iff Books, 2022)His other recent books include Dante’s “Divine Comedy”: A guide for the spiritual journey (Angelico Press, 2021) (Podcast, 10 September 2021) and A Secret History of Christianity (John Hunt Publishing, 2019).

Click the play button above to listen to this podcast. You can also listen to the Church Times Podcast on the Church Times app for iPhone and iPadSoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and most other podcast platforms. Music for the podcast is by Twisterium

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