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By Robert L. Winzeler

Drawing from ethnographic examples chanced on in the course of the international, this revised and up-to-date textual content bargains an advent to what anthropologists be aware of or take into consideration faith, how they've got studied it, and the way they've got interpreted or defined it because the past due 19th century. Robert Winzeler’s balanced attention of vintage themes, easy techniques, and new advancements within the anthropological examine of faith strikes past cultural anthropology and ethnography to assemble details from actual anthropology, prehistory, and archaeology. Written as a worldly yet available therapy of the problems, Anthropology and Religion is a key textual content for upper-division classes.

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Extra info for Anthropology and religion : what we know, think, and question

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Some things that are fundamental to religion do probably have an important but still indirect evolutionary basis. In terms of cognition, the favorite example is the inclination to be animistic—to believe in the presence of normally invisible beings. This is explained in evolutionary terms as a tendency to be alert to the possibility that unseen dangerous creatures (a poisonous snake in the grass, a lion hiding in the bushes, an enemy behind a tree) can exist while not visible, thereby making “better safe than sorry” or “better to believe than not” in dangerous situations a useful, survivalenhancing adaptation.

This evidence also includes various artifacts taken to have been made or embellished wholly or in part for religious purposes. The identification and interpretation of such materials have been controversial, especially those concerning the religious beliefs and practices of existing (or recently existing) peoples, specifically the inferences that can be made from such evidence concerning early religion. Fifth and finally, once religion emerged and became a part of human culture, did it develop in regular ways over time that can be said to be evolutionary, or has it, instead, remained the same basic thing from first to last?

In the Eastern world religions, the relationship of morality to religion is somewhat different but also very strong. In Buddhist doctrine the principle is not that God is angered by human misconduct toward other humans and pleased by kindness, selflessness, charity, and other positive forms of behavior but rather that good and bad conduct are a matter of karma (to use the term in its general sense), the impersonal moral law of the universe that is the sum total or balance of a person’s good and bad acts, both in this life and in all previous ones, and karma determines fate in this life and future lives.

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