I’ve just finished reading Barbara J. King’s EVOLVING GOD: A PROVOCATIVE VIEW ON THE ORIGINS OF RELIGION. Like all of King’s work, it’s nuanced and challenging. She leads the reader through studies of modern non-human primates, of modern hunter-gatherer societies, and of archeological sites/relics, weaving all these together to make educated hypotheses about the origin of the religious imagination.
Among her final thoughts are these:
I do not believe that science can “explain” religion. An evolutionary perspective will probably never be able to pinpoint the reasons why an apelike creature capable of empathy and meaning-making developed into a species that sings the praises of God and shakes in fear at the wrath of the gods, who goes to war in the name of religion and who sacrifices all worldly comforts in order to honor God by doing good for others.
I do believe that science can explain something meaningful about the evolution of the religious imagination.
A good, slow, thoughtful read, well worth the time.
For fellow octopus cognition fans, this video of an octopus not only using a tool, but understanding that a tool found in one location would be needed in the future in another location. No, I don’t eat octopus. Too squidgy. And, I now know, too cool and too smart.
A friend recommended I look up Jackson Galaxy, specifically his posts on aggression in cats. Munchkin wants me to leave it to him to explain why tomorrow on Caturday. In the meantime, let’s just say that I owe somebody an apology.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write a scene with an octopus in it.