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Discovering God: the origins of the great religions and the evolution of belief

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Discovering God is a monumental history of the origins of the great religions from the Stone Age to the Modern Age. Sociologist Rodney Stark surveys the birth and growth of religions around the world—from the prehistoric era of primal beliefs; the history of the pyramids found in Iraq, Egypt, Mexico, and Cambodia; and the great "Axial Age" of Plato, Zoroaster, Confucius, and the Buddha, to the modern Christian missions and the global spread of Islam. He argues for a free-market theory of religion and for the controversial thesis that under the best, unimpeded conditions, the true, most authentic religions will survive and thrive. Among his many conclusions:

  • Despite decades of faulty reports that early religions were crude muddles of superstition, it turns out that primitive humans had surprisingly sophisticated notions about God and Creation.
  • The idea of "sin" appeared suddenly in the sixth century BCE and quickly reshaped religious ideas from Europe to China.
  • Some major world religions seem to lack any plausible traces of divine inspiration.
  • Ironically, some famous figures who attempted to found "Godless" religions ended up being worshiped as Gods.

Most people believe in the existence of God (or Gods), and this has apparently been so throughout human history. Many modern biologists and psychologists reject these spiritual ideas, especially those about the existence of God, as delusional. They claim that religion is a primitive survival mechanism that should have been discarded as humans evolved beyond the stage where belief in God served any useful purpose—that in modern societies, faith is a misleading crutch and an impediment to reason. In Discovering God, award-winning sociologist Rodney Stark responds to this position, arguing that it is our capacity to understand God that has evolved—that humans now know much more about God than they did in ancient times.

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Grouped Work ID 5b17124f-648f-d1b8-9a1f-ecea6232cbfd
full_title discovering god the origins of the great religions and the evolution of belief
author stark rodney
grouping_category book
lastUpdate 2016-12-14 05:06:45AM

Solr Details

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author Stark, Rodney.
author-letter Stark, Rodney.
author_additional Rodney Stark.
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local_callnumber_left_arlington 200 STARK
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oclc (OCoLC)124162844
owning_library_arlington Arlington Public Library, Aurora Hills, Central, Cherrydale, Columbia Pike, Connection Crystal City, Detention Center, Glencarlyn, Local History, Plaza, Shirlington, Westover
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physical viii, 484 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.
popularity 4
primary_isbn 9780061173899
publishDate 2007
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publisher HarperOne,
rating 2.5
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record_details ils:.b12982179|Book|Books||English|HarperOne,|c2007.|viii, 484 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.
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subject_facet Religions
table_of_contents Gods in primitive societies -- Temple religions of ancient civilizations -- Rome: an ancient religious marketplace -- The 'rebirth' of monotheism -- Indian inspirations -- Chinese gods and 'godless' faiths -- The rise of Christianity -- Islam: god and state.
target_audience Adult
target_audience_full Adult
title Discovering God : the origins of the great religions and the evolution of belief
title_display Discovering God : the origins of the great religions and the evolution of belief
title_full Discovering God : the origins of the great religions and the evolution of belief / Rodney Stark
title_short Discovering God :
title_sort discovering god the origins of the great religions and the evolution of belief
title_sub the origins of the great religions and the evolution of belief