Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wondrous Healing

Shamanism, Human Evolution, and the Origin of Religion...

I enjoyed Wondrous Healing: Shamanism, Human Evolution, and the Origin of Religion, by James McClenon as much as I did Supernatural Selection: How Religion Evolved by Matt Rossano

In Wondrous Healing, McClenon makes a compelling case that our hominin ancestors benefited from being receptive to the hypnotic effects of flickering firelight, group chanting, rhythmic percussion, and simple dances.  The ease with which we could be hypnotized by enjoyable community rituals contributed to the effectiveness of folk remedies for health problems that feature a significant emotional component or highly subjective symptoms.  Similar health and longevity benefits are still seen in "church going" populations today.  Such benefits resulted in competitive advantages that added up over time, reinforcing themselves generation after generation.  In time such reinforcement contributed to group cohesion, speech, music, dance, and religion in the form of shamanism. 

Can't believe this has been resting on my bookshelf for three years... 

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