An essential feature of religious experience across many cultures is the intuitive feeling of God's presence. More than any rituals or doctrines, it is this experience that anchors religious faith, yet it has been largely ignored in the scientific literature on religion.
"... [Dr. Wathey's] book delves into the biological origins of this compelling feeling, attributing it to innate neural circuitry that evolved to promote the mother-child bond...[He] argues that evolution has programmed the infant brain to expect the presence of a loving being who responds to the child's needs. As the infant grows into adulthood, this innate feeling is eventually transferred to the realm of religion, where it is reactivated through the symbols, imagery, and rituals of worship. The author interprets our various conceptions of God in biological terms as illusory supernormal stimuli that fill an emotional and cognitive vacuum left over from infancy.
These insights shed new light on some of the most vexing puzzles of religion, like:
S cholars who want to write beyond the academy often ask, where are the models for such a thing? Jill Lepore is often the answer. She is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University, a longtime staff writer at the New Yorker , an accomplished essayist, and a public voice for producing historical work that engages with audiences well beyond the classroom. Her publications have attended to technologies of evidence and writing, to the craft of historical writing itself, and to subjects as wide-ranging as Wonder Woman and board games. One recurring theme is the relationship between technology and progress. Benjamin Cohen, whose work addresses the intertwined histories of science, technology, and the environment, spoke with Lepore for Public Books about that theme and, more broadly, the challenges and meanings of writing for a broad public audience.