Of all species that have ever existed on earth, only one has reached human levels of intelligence and social organisation: us. Why? In Genesis , celebrated biologist Edward O. Wilson traces the great transitions of evolution, from the origin of life to the invention of sexual reproduction to the development of language itself. The only way for us to fully understand human behaviour, Wilson argues, is to study the evolutionary histories of nonhuman species. Of these, he demonstrates that at least seventeen - from the African naked mole rat and the sponge-dwelling shrimp to one of the oldest species on earth, the termite - have been found to have advanced societies based on altruism, cooperation and the division of labour. These rare eusocial species form the prehistory to our human social patterns, even, according to Wilson, suggesting the possible biological benefits of homosexuality and elderly grandmothers. Whether writing about midges who dance about like acrobats, schools of anchovies who protectively huddle to appear like a gigantic fish or well-organised flocks becoming potentially immortal, Genesis is a pathbreaking work of evolutionary theory filled with lyrical observations. It will make us rethink how we became who we are.
Christianity, one of the world's great religions, has had an incalculable impact on human history. This book, now the most comprehensive and up to date single volume work in English, describes not only the main ideas and personalities of Christian history, its organisation and spirituality, but how it has changed politics, sex, and human society.
Diarmaid MacCulloch ranges from Palestine in the first century to India in the third, from Damascus to China in the seventh century and from San Francisco to Korea in the twentieth. He is one of the most widely travelled of Christian historians and conveys a sense of place as arrestingly as he does the power of ideas. He presents the development of Christian history differently from any of his predecessors. He shows how, after a semblance of unity in its earliest centuries, the Christian church divided during the next 1400 years into three increasingly distanced parts, of which the western Church was by no means always the most important: he observes that at the end of the first eight centuries of Christian history, Baghdad might have seemed a more likely capital for worldwide Christianity than Rome. This is the first truly global history of Christianity.
From the author of The Architecture of Happiness, a deeply moving meditation on how we can still benefit, without believing, from the wisdom, the beauty, and the consolatory power that religion has to offer.
Alain de Botton was brought up in a committedly atheistic household, and though he was powerfully swayed by his parents' views, he underwent, in his midtwenties, a crisis of faithlessness. His feelings of doubt about atheism had their origins in listening to Bach's cantatas, were further developed in the presence of certain Bellini Madonnas, and became overwhelming with an introduction to Zen architecture. However, it was not until his father's death buried under a Hebrew headstone in a Jewish cemetery because he had intriguingly omitted to make more secular arrangements that Alain began to face the full degree of his ambivalence regarding the views of religion that he had dutifully accepted. Why are we presented with the curious choice between either committing to peculiar concepts about immaterial deities or letting go entirely of a host of consoling, subtle and effective rituals and practices for which there is no equivalent in secular society? Why do we bristle at the mention of the word "morality"? Flee from the idea that art should be uplifting, or have an ethical purpose? Why don't we build temples? What mechanisms do we have for expressing gratitude? The challenge that de Botton addresses in his book: how to separate ideas and prctices from the religious institutions that have laid claim to them. In Religion for Atheists is an argument to free our soulrelated needs from the particular influence of religions, even if it is, paradoxically, the study of religion that will allow us to rediscover and rearticulate those needs.
From the Hardcover edition.
As the world becomes more modern, it is not becoming more secular. Instead, on the street and in the corridors of power, religion is surging. This book shows that if you want to understand the modern world, you cannot afford to ignore God - whether you believe in Him or not.
Considered in Islam to be the infallible word of God, the Qur'an was revealed to the prophet Muhammad by the archangel Gabriel in a series of divine revelations over many years after his first vision in the cave. In 114 chapters, or suras, it provides the rules of conduct that remain fundamental to Muslims today-most importantly the key Islamic values of prayer, fasting, pilgrimage and absolute faith in God, with profound spiritual guidance on matters of kinship, marriage and family, crime and punishment, rituals, food, warfare and charity. Here too we find Adam, Moses, Abraham, Jesus and John the Baptist and other people familiar to fellow 'People of the Book'.
This milestone translation by acclaimed Muslim scholar Tarif Khalidi retains the rhythms and structures of the original Arabic's exquisite poetry, bringing this holy book to life for readers in English.
Lost for 1,600 years, the "Gospel of Judas" claims that not only was Judas the favoured disciple of Jesus, but also that Judas was killed by the other disciples. Was Judas a betrayer or a loyal disciple? Did he write this shocking document? And what does it mean for us today? This book explores the meanings of this contentious gospel in detail.
There can be no doubt that nearly 2,000 years ago a Jewish charismatic was judicially murdered. This was an unremarkable event. Palestine was in ferment, Jews and Romans were at bitter odds and the authorities often reacted ferociously in the face of any perceived threat.
Christy Turlington is a serious yoga practitioner who has been practicing for over 15 years. In this book she explores the eight tenets of yoga and discusses how to incorporate it into everyday life, no matter how busy you are.