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This title is copublished with Yale University Press as part of the Foundational Questions in Science series. It is only available for purchase through Yale University Press or your favorite bookstore.

Why are so many humans religious? Why do we daydream, imagine, and hope? Philosophers, theologians, social scientists, and historians have offered explanations for centuries, but their accounts often ignore or even avoid human evolution. Evolutionary scientists answer with proposals for why ritual, religion, and faith make sense as adaptations to past challenges or as by-products of our hyper-complex cognitive capacities.

But what if the focus on religion is too narrow? Renowned anthropologist Agustín Fuentes argues that the capacity to be religious is actually a small part of a larger and deeper human capacity to believe. Why believe in religion, economies, love? A fascinating intervention into some of the most common misconceptions about human nature, this book employs evolutionary, neurobiological, and anthropological evidence to argue that belief—the ability to commit passionately and wholeheartedly to an idea—is central to the human way of being in the world.

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Requesting an Exam Copy

Exam copies are sent to professors who would like to review the book before deciding whether to use it in a class. To request an exam copy, you must fill out the form below. It will automatically be sent to a staff member.

In our efforts to stay green, reduce expenses, and maintain scholarly accessibility, we are sending examination copies as electronic downloads in the Adobe Digital Edition format for a 90-day review period. If you have any trouble accessing the book in this format, please contact us and we will send a traditional copy of the book instead.

If you chose to review the electronic version of the book and adopt the book for one of your courses, upon notification by you or your bookstore, a traditional bound book will be sent to you free of charge.

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“A wholly impressive look at how our capacity for belief evolved, with fresh insights, especially about early Homo sapiens. I found Fuentes’ case studies on religion, economics, and love fascinating.”

– Barbara J. King, author of Evolving God

“We are the believing species. Much of what we are and what we do is driven by belief of one kind or another. Agustín Fuentes, a gifted writer and teacher, helps us understand both the power and role of belief in this brilliant book. Why We Believe is an exciting intellectual tour through culture, neurobiology, prehistory, religion, economies, love, war, and more. Read it to better know yourself and your species.”

– Guy P. Harrison, author of At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life and Think: Why You Should Question Everything

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