Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Barbara J. King

Salon recently published an interview with Barbara J. King about the central ideas in her new book, Evolving God.

The opening part of the interview:

Why would an anthropologist who studies apes be interested in religion?

I think religion is all about emotional engagement and social action. And we can get a whole new read on the evolutionary history of religion by asking the kinds of questions that we ask of language and culture. We can see that way back in our past -- literally, millions of years ago -- some practices are visible in the archaeological record that reflect the deepest roots of religion. And apes today are pretty good stand-ins for those very early human ancestors. So when I go to the National Zoo in Washington, or spend time in Kenya looking at monkeys, what I see is very social. It's about emotional connection that's at the very ancient roots of religion.
Read the entire interview; it is followed by an audio link to an NPR interview at the end.