I’m happy to announce that my book on Practicing Safe Sects: Religious Reproduction in Scientific and Philosophical Perspective, is now available free through Brill Academic Open Access Publishing.

You can download it here.

Where do gods come from – and why do people keep them around? This book argues that gods (supernatural agents of all sorts) are born in human minds and borne in human cultures as as a result of an aggregate of cognitive and coalitional biases that helped our early ancestors survive and are now part of our phylogenetic heritage and reinforced by social entrainment.

In other words, “gods” are engendered within the mental and social life of human beings as a result of naturally evolved, hyper-sensitive biases that activate inferences about hidden human-like forms and preferences for distinctive in-group norms, especially when people are confronted with ambiguous or frightening phenomena. Like racism, sexism, and classism, theism (broadly understood as shared imaginative engagement with gods) may have helped our species survive in large cooperative and competitive groups in the past, but it is now maladaptive in many contemporary contexts.

The theoretical argument in this book was first articulated in my earlier book Theology after the Birth of God: Atheist Conceptions in Cognition and Culture (not open access but available in paperback here).

“Theogonic reproduction theory” was also used in the theoretical frameworks used in several of our computational models, including this one on terror management theory, this one on mutually escalating religious violence, and (indirectly) this one on religiosity, existential security, and education.

The argument of the book has also informed articles on How to Survive the Anthropocene, Why do the Godless Prosper?, Computer Modeling in Philosophy of Religion, and Toxic Theism? New Strategies for Prebunking Religious Belief-Behavior Complexes (among others).

I’m glad it is now openly available, and look forward to more feedback. 🙂