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Alpha God [Ebook] ➦ Alpha God By Hector A. Garcia – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk This book uses evolutionary psychology as a lens to explain religious violence and oppression The author a clinical psychologist examines religious scriptures rituals and canon law highlighting the ma This book uses evolutionary psychology as a lens to explain religious violence and oppression The author a clinical psychologist examines religious scriptures rituals and canon law highlighting the many ways in which our evolutionary legacy has shaped the development of religion and continues to profoundly influence its expression The book focuses on the image of God as the dominant male in Judaism Christianity and Islam This traditional God concept is seen as a reflection of the “dominant ape” paradigm so evident in the hierarchical social structures of primates with whom we have a strong genetic connectionThe author describes the main features of male dominated primate social hierarchies— specifically the role of the alpha male as the protector of the group; his sexual dominance and use of violence and oppression to attain food females and territory; in group altruism vs out group hostility us vs them; and displays of dominance and submission to establish roles within the social hierarchy The parallels between these features of primate society and human religious rituals and concepts make it clear that religion especially its oppressive and violent tendencies is rooted in the deep evolutionary pastThis incisive analysis goes a long way toward explaining the historic and ongoing violence committed in the name of religion.


10 thoughts on “Alpha God

  1. Book Book says:

    Alpha God The Psychology of Religious Violence and Oppression by Hector A Garcia“Alpha God” is an excellent book that examines religious violence and oppression through evolutionary psychology Clinical psychologist Hector A Garcia makes the compelling case that “God” has been drawn in human form with behaviors inherited from our primate ancestors This persuasive 290 page book includes the following ten chapters 1 Enter God the Dominant Ape 2 Evolutionary Mechanisms Etiology 3 The Protector God 4 Sexual Dominance From Apes to Men to Gods 5 Cooperative Killing In group Identity and God 6 What It Means to Kneel 7 Maladaptive Submission to the Godhead 8 The Fearsome Reputations of Apes Men and Gods 9 God’s Territory and 10 Righting Ourselves Positives1 Well written and well reasoned book 2 An interesting topic the psychology of religious violence and oppression “Dominant apes and men have a long history of securing such biological treasure by perpetrating violence and oppression on lower ranking members of their societies Once we observe that God too is portrayed as having great interest in these kinds of resources and as securing them through similar means it becomes increasingly clear that He has emerged as neither nor less than the highest ranking male of all”3 Great use of logic and evolutionary psychology to persuade the readers at an accessible level Garcia has great command of the topic 4 Good reading rhythm the author does a good job of making persuasive statements backed by science and sound logic “Arguably the best way to understand the ultimate basis for male violence and oppression is through the evolutionary sciences”5 Provocative statements abound “Human potential is so vast but we may have limited ourselves by the gods we created”6 Examines dominance and its implications on behavior “With larger populations the roles of gods began to reflect social concerns rather than the forces of nature Notably gods began to actively regulate social interactions and punish breeches of morality and cooperation”7 Connects dots throughout the book “It is worth noting that this business of marking over the territorial markers of one's rivals is known to primates and proliferated among the gods of the biblical age”8 Describes how politics and religion intertwine “In a political environment run by strongmen one needs a god based on strongman psychology one euipped for maneuvering within the dominance hierarchies of men”9 Describes how the grand theory of evolution shaped the mind to anthropomorphize the natural world and how this tendency resulted in man based gods “Of note some theorists in these disciplines describe religion as an adaptation that facilitated cooperation among early humans Some describe it as a by product of existing evolved cognitive capacities And still others describe it as both” “10 The protector “God” explained “Because the primeval social environments in which our brains evolved reuired us to seek protection from powerful males against dangerous predators such a role in male gods is emotionally intuitive The natural extension is that gods now protect us from predation” “The results suggest that the tendency to gravitate toward powerful leaders is independent of political affiliation and thus potentially very ancient”11 The concept of eternity “What better way of assuaging fears of death than with the promise of eternal life? And as we might expect it is a dominant male savior who provides not only protection from death by predation but protection from death itself”12 Sexual domination “Violence is a prevailing strategy for winning access to females among primates including the great apes” “Gods in religions worldwide share an interest in sex and the male gods seek and acuire sex in patterned dominant male style with a noted preference for virgins—females free of the genes of rival males”13 Generous usage of biblical scripture and passages from the Koran to make compelling arguments regarding the author’s theories of violence and oppression “The Bible is especially frank in claiming that God wants women to submit to men for example “Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands as it is fit in the Lord” Col 318”14 The concept of patriarchal altruism “Like secular culture religions can engender great empathy and collaboration but they can also bring about remorseless killing This pattern of in group altruism and out group enmity has been termed parochial altruism”15 Many examples of a biblical violence “He totally destroyed them as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded The Israelites carried off for themselves all the plunder and livestock of these cities but all the people they put to the sword until they completely destroyed them not sparing anyone that breathed Josh1112 14”16 Religion as a source for control “Similarly Christianity has a long history of codified ideological control with one example among Catholics being the dogma of papal infallibility This dogma was promulgated by the Catholic Church at the First Vatican Council of 1870 and states that any dogmatic teaching that the pope conceives of is infallible Such teachings are considered to be imparted directly from God and are therefore uncontestable”17 Depression as a form adaptation “Evolutionary researchers have argued that self esteem is a kind of “gauge” or “index” designed to inform adaptive goals Such a gauge is critical in social hierarchies where individuals must understand their rank status and choose social behaviors according to their rank particularly in regard to social competition—for example not challenging a dangerous higher ranking individual or submitting to a weaker lower ranking one”18 The origins of reputation “Like men God is exceedingly intolerant of threats to his reputation most seminally in the third commandment “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain” Exod 207 Words spoken against God or disrespecting slighting or otherwise not showing proper reverence are thereafter forbidden and considered a crime known as blasphemy This crime is also punishable by death”19 Legitimacy of power “One means of ensuring the legitimacy of God's position of power has been to forbid the uestioning of religious doctrines that support it”20 The impact od rank and power on the planet “In sum the research cited above finds that hierarchical male driven societies tend to behave in ways detrimental to the worldwide ecosystem”21 Links to notesNegatives1 Lack of visual supplementary material2 A bit repetitive 3 Needed a little emphasis on neuroscience4 I was hoping to know about male violence Is there a genetic difference? In summary a 45 star book A very interesting topic done justice by the persuasive arguments made by Garcia He makes the compelling case that there is an evolutionary connection between our primate ancestors and humans Further humans have used hierarchy and religion to impose control on societies A lot to like here I highly recommend itFurther suggestions “God The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction” by Dan Barker “Drunk with Blood God’s Killings in the Bible” by Steve Wells “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris “The God Virus How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture” by Darrel Ray “The Christian Delusion” by John W Loftus “Fighting Words” by Hector Avalos “Faith Versus Fact Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible” by Jerry A Coyne “God and the Multiverse” by Victor J Stenger “Science and Religion” by Daniel C Dennett “Why People Believe Weird Things” by Michael Shermer “The Soul Fallacy” by Julien Musolino “Nonbeliever Nation” by David Niose “Freethinkers” by Susan Jacoby “Nailed” by David Fitzgerald and “Think” by Guy P Harrison


  2. Teresa Fritz Teresa Fritz says:

    I love it when real scientific study of humansanimals relates directly to the invention of the god that ruins many people's lives Just sorry so many people are unable to distinguish fantasy from fiction Even the people I think are smarter than I am I guess smartness is all relative in a greater scheme of the cosmos Perhaps there is much power in brainwashing than I thought


  3. Ayse_ Ayse_ says:

    Excellent book based on science Brings explanation to why the God of all religions has so many humanmale attributes A great study of human evolution and behavioral parallelism with apes


  4. Jamie Jamie says:

    Very interesting and thought provoking book exploring the notion that we create god in our image Therefore he looks and behaves like the ultimate alpha male Many interesting ideas Much to think about Slightly repetitive


  5. Brianna Silva Brianna Silva says:

    Interesting theory and essential reading for anyone wanting to understand religion I definitely won't see religion the same way again


  6. Carly Carly says:

    An important readI highly recommend this eye opening book This piece of literature provides answers to the very interesting uestion But where did religion come from? and great insight into the human mind


  7. Claudia Chee Claudia Chee says:

    Highly scientific Theories backed up by historical events Super informative and thought provoking


  8. Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin says:

    I usually don't go full new atheist in my reading choices these days It is very 2005 However this bit of evopsych portrays religious depictions of God in old texts as a warlord or alpha male Concerned with smiting enemies and extremely concerned about underlings sex lives I will grant that a lot of religion is elevated than that and can get fairly mystical and metaphysical but for most adherents the warlord in the sky is the operating prototype for them especially on the religious right The evopsych lens is very easy to apply to this old testament depiction of the almighty and shows in very stark terms that his and I do mean his depiction is very much a creation of homo sapiens This book with a little knowledge of evolutionary psychology and grandma's wisdom about sex and dating writes itself whatever the value of conventional stereotypical morality it definitely has a primate stamp on it Evopsych is always troubling because it attacks one's vanity that people are better than this but many people aren't even though we should be


  9. Amjad Al Taleb Amjad Al Taleb says:

    This is a complementary book to The Evolution of God by Robert Wright as it tackles the same problem from another aspect Whereas Wright used history as his tool of investigation Garcia uses evolutionary psychology to bring a deep and powerful insight into the mentality of godsIn this comprehensive analysis Garcia managed to write a book about religion history psychology and feminism by explaining the actual one god that rules our lives


  10. Julia Julia says:

    I'd never thought about men or about the Judaeo Christian religions in the way that Garcia presents them He is an evolutionary primatologist and draws some very disturbing parallels between the behavior of alpha chimps for example and Jehovah It's a must read for everyone interested in the sociology of religion I think


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