Conceiving God

Conceiving God

The Cognitive Origin and Evolution of Religion

  1. David Lewis-Williams
  • ISBN 9780500051641
  • 23.40 x 15.60 cm
  • Hardback
  • 320pp
  • 49 Illustrations, 0 in colour
  • First published 2010

Polemical, insightful and thought-provoking, Conceiving God is essential reading for all those interested in the origins and roles of science and religion in contemporary society.

'Conceiving God' is a magnificent book.... astonishingly original and convincing .... a sane, courteous and devastating criticism of religion, and an illuminating pleasure to read’ – Philip Pullman
‘An insightful, provocative and extremely thought-provoking contribution to the great debate’– Good Book Guide
‘I doubt Lewis-Williams will have the last word in this debate. But in many ways, he should’ – Scotland on Sunday
‘A well-informed and steady march through the history of religion and its conflict with science … rich and educative’ – A.C. Grayling, The New Statesman
‘A fascinating investigation into the human propensity for religion and religious belief … no one should hesitate to engage with it, or deny themselves the opportunity to be illuminated by the wisdom in its pages’ – Rabbi Dr Charles H. Middleburgh
‘Wide-ranging, information-rich and thought-provoking … historically informed and well reasoned … open and closed minds alike will find much to ponder’ – Theology
‘A likeable and carefully reasoned tract’ – The Times Literary Supplement

Read the powerful Preface
See the full list of contents

See video of the author talking about his book in our Authors section
Read an interview with David Lewis-Williams in the New Statesman

Recent years have seen a growing tension between religion and science as more and more people have asked themselves a fundamental question: is there a supernatural realm that intervenes in daily life? To many it certainly feels so – but what if the religious impulse has another, rational, explanation?

David Lewis-Williams explores how science developed within the cocoon of religion and then shows how the natural functioning of the human brain creates experiences that can lead to belief in a supernatural realm.

Such belief gives rise to creeds, a development examined here in the light of critical episodes in world history, from rivalries between Platonists and Aristotelians to the discoveries of Charles Darwin.

Archaeology reveals activities one can label religious many tens of thousands of years ago and the author shows that mental imagery can be detected in widely separated religious communities such as Hildegard of Bingen’s in medieval Europe or the San hunters of southern Africa.

David Lewis-Williams is Professor Emeritus and Senior Mentor in the Rock Art Research Institute, University of the Witwatersrand. Among his previous books are The Mind in the Cave: Consciousness and the Origins of Art, Inside the Neolithic Mind: Consciousness, Cosmos and the Realm of the Gods (with David Pearce) and The Shamans of Prehistory: Trance and Magic in the Painted Caves (with Jean Clottes).

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