New in paperback. Hardcover was published in 2002.
One of the great intellectual battles of modern times is between evolution and religion. Until now, they have been considered completely irreconcilable theories of origin and existence. David Sloan Wilson's "Darwin's Cathedral" takes the radical step of joining the two, in the process proposing an evolutionary theory of religion that shakes both evolutionary biology and social theory at their foundations. The key, argues Wilson, is to think of society as an organism, an old idea that has received new life based on recent developments in evolutionary biology. If society is an organism, can we then think of morality and religion as biologically and culturally evolved adaptations that enable human groups to function as single units rather than mere collections of individuals? Wilson brings a variety of evidence to bear on this question, from both the biological and social sciences. From Calvinism in 16th-century Geneva to Balinese water temples, from hunter-gatherer societies to urban America, Wilson demonstrates how religions have enabled people to achieve by collective action what they never could do alone. He also includes a chapter considering forgiveness from an evolutionary perspective and concludes by discussing how all social organizations, even science, could benefit by incoporating elements of religion. Religious believers often compare their communities to single organisms and even to insect colonies. Astoundingly, Wilson shows that they might be literally correct. Intended for any educated reader, "Darwin's Cathedral" should change forever the way we view the relations among evolution, religion and human society.
Table of Contents
Church as Organism 1 (4)
The View from Evolutionary Biology 5 (42)
The View from the Social Sciences 47 (39)
Calvinism: An Argument from Design 86 (39)
The Secular Utility of Religion: Historical 125(36)
The Secular Utility of Religion: The Modern 161(28)
Forgiveness as a Complex Adaptation 189(30)
Unifying Systems 219(16)