By Robert L. Winzeler

Drawing from ethnographic examples came across during the global, this revised and up to date textual content bargains an advent to what anthropologists recognize or take into consideration faith, how they've got studied it, and the way they've got interpreted or defined it because the past due 19th century. Robert Winzeler’s balanced attention of vintage themes, easy strategies, and new advancements within the anthropological examine of faith strikes past cultural anthropology and ethnography to collect info from actual anthropology, prehistory, and archaeology. Written as a cosmopolitan yet obtainable therapy of the problems, Anthropology and Religion is a key textual content for upper-division classes.

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Some examples of this will be discussed in later chapters, but at this point let us assume that the ancient religions are gone. While anthropologists may be interested in these ancient religions and sometimes write about them, they do not study them extensively because they lack the research skills or knowledge of languages and scripts needed to do so. Of the studies of ancient religion that have been done, William Robertson Smith’s Lectures on the Religion of the Semites (1901) has been of the greatest importance by far, for Smith established a line of interpretation that continues to be of fundamental importance to the present.

This is explained in evolutionary terms as a tendency to be alert to the possibility that unseen dangerous creatures (a poisonous snake in the grass, a lion hiding in the bushes, an enemy behind a tree) can exist while not visible, thereby making “better safe than sorry” or “better to believe than not” in dangerous situations a useful, survivalenhancing adaptation. 1 WHEN DID RELIGION DEVELOP? One of the more striking characteristics of the recent efforts to explain the evolution of religion is the lack of much interest in the actual evolutionary record, such as it is.

Bad actions and evil thoughts are condemned mainly because they lead to witchcraft—and witchcraft can kill or bring other misfortune, including accidents, illnesses, and crop failures. Witchcraft-related beliefs, fears, accusations, and gossip thus tend to encourage the Azande to behave in moral terms. Other accounts of non–world religions also tend toward the general conclusion that there is a connection between spiritual beliefs and practices and morality but the connection is likely to take a very different form than in Christianity or the other world religions (Swanson 1960, 153–74).

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