The Evolution of Religions
A History of Related Traditions
by Lance Grande
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Pub Date 12 Dec 2023 | Archive Date 20 Mar 2024
Thousands of religions have adherents today, and countless more have existed throughout history. What accounts for this astonishing diversity?
This extraordinarily ambitious and comprehensive book demonstrates how evolutionary systematics and philosophy can yield new insight into the development of organized religion. Lance Grande—a leading evolutionary systematist—examines the growth and diversification of hundreds of religions over time, highlighting their historical interrelationships. Combining evolutionary theory with a wealth of cultural records, he explores the formation, extinction, and diversification of different world religions, including the many branches of Asian cyclicism, polytheism, and monotheism.
Grande deploys an illuminating graphic system of evolutionary trees to illustrate historical interrelationships among the world’s major religious traditions, rejecting colonialist and hierarchical “ladder of progress” views of evolution. Extensive and informative illustrations clearly and vividly indicate complex historical developments and help readers grasp the breadth of interconnections across eras and cultures.
The Evolution of Religions marshals compelling evidence that if you go back far enough in time, all major belief systems are related, despite the many conflicts that have taken place among them. By emphasizing these broad historical interconnections, this book promotes the need for greater tolerance and deeper, unbiased understanding of cultural diversity. Such understanding and tolerance may be necessary traits for the future survival of humanity.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lance Grande is the Negaunee Distinguished Service Curator of the Field Museum of Natural and Cultural History in Chicago. He is a specialist in evolutionary systematics, paleontology, and biology who has a deep interest in the interdisciplinary applications of scientific method and philosophy. His many books include Curators: Behind the Scenes of Natural History Museums (2017) and The Lost World of Fossil Lake: Snapshots from Deep Time (2013).
"The Evolution of Religions classifies virtually all known organized religions, past and present, into phylogenetic trees based on their shared characteristics and evolution. Grande provides an evolutionary framework so that lay readers can better understand the similarities of religions and thereby hopefully become more tolerant of religions other than their own."
--E. Fuller Torrey, author of Evolving Brains, Emerging Gods: Early Humans and the Origins of Religion