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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptical Inquirer > Jan Feb 2016 > NEW AND NOTABLE


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GOD IS WATCHING YOU: How the Fear of God Makes Us Human. Dominic Johnson. Scientific skeptics often wonder how religious belief prevails so widely. Dominic Johnson, who holds a DPhil from Oxford in evolutionary biology as well as a PhD from Geneva University in political science, presents the case that religion—and specifically the fear of supernatural observation and punishment—is an evolutionary adaptation. He says the idea of supernatural retribution has helped preserve moral order and achieve remarkable levels of cooperation. His book seeks to show that belief in supernatural reward and punishment is no quirk of western or Christian culture but is a ubiquitous phenomenon of human nature that spans all cultures; second, he argues that this is no accident but is an evolutionary adaption; and third, he asks us to think through the implications of all this. His valuable exploration into the evolutionary reasons for the power and pervasiveness of religious belief raises troubling issues for us all. Oxford University Press, 2015, 304 pp., $27.95.

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About Skeptical Inquirer

The ‘Lie Detector’ Test Revisited: A Great Example of Junk Science Trends in Scientific Knowledge, Education, and Religion The Science of Meaning Mistaken Memories of Vampires: Pseudohistories and much more.