Books discussing how/why religion.

Aug 2011
73
#1
I think that religious discussion possibly falls broadly into two areas.

The first area relates to what I would refer to as the macro area and covers; “How/why did a particular religion evolve.” and “The history of religion and its relationship to the establishment/state.”

The second is the micro area and relates to why/how individuals believe.

I may not have used the correct terminology and am open to suggestions.
I have no idea where to start looking for reading matter on these areas or even if I have defined them correctly and would appreciate some suggestions.
 

Rasta

Ad Honoris
Aug 2009
21,071
Minnesnowta
#2
For the first area, I would recommend: From Earth Spirits to Sky Gods: The Socioecological Origins of Monotheism, Individualism, and Hyper-Abstract Reasoning, From the Stone Age to the Axial Iron Age by Bruce Lerro.

[ame="http://www.amazon.com/Earth-Spirits-Gods-Socioecological-Hyper-Abstract/dp/073910098X"]Amazon.com: From Earth Spirits to Sky Gods: The Socioecological Origins of Monotheism, Individualism, and Hyper-Abstract Reasoning, From the Stone Age to the Axial Iron Age (9780739100981): Bruce Lerro: Books@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41BV5RVFJHL.@@AMEPARAM@@41BV5RVFJHL[/ame]
 

Rosi

Historum Emeritas
Jul 2008
6,242
#4
Karen Armstrong's 'History of God' is a good read on the evolution of the Abrahamic religions.

As to why people believe... that's a can of worms right there. ;):D
 

Belloc

Ad Honorem
Mar 2010
5,418
USA
#5
One book on my to-read list is Robert Bellah's latest concerning the origins and early history of religions:
[ame="http://www.amazon.com/Religion-Human-Evolution-Paleolithic-Axial/dp/0674061438"]Amazon.com: Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age (9780674061439): Robert N. Bellah: Books@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41KYucRPqZL.@@AMEPARAM@@41KYucRPqZL[/ame]

Bellah is considered one of the premiere sociologists of religion.

I'm currently reading this book, which does summarize the history and development of history rather well in my view:
[ame="http://www.amazon.com/Progress-Religion-Historical-Inquiry-Works/dp/0813210151/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1328374485&sr=1-1"]Amazon.com: Progress and Religion: An Historical Inquiry (Works) (9780813210155): Christopher Dawson: Books@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41SBG6E668L.@@AMEPARAM@@41SBG6E668L[/ame]
 

Belloc

Ad Honorem
Mar 2010
5,418
USA
#6
Mircea Eliade is also considered a prominent historian of religion, with his classic Sacred and Profane:
[ame="http://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Profane-Nature-Religion/dp/015679201X/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1"]Amazon.com: The Sacred and The Profane: The Nature of Religion (9780156792011): Mircea Eliade, Willard R. Trask: Books@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51FQXvXEO1L.@@AMEPARAM@@51FQXvXEO1L[/ame]
 
Apr 2010
6,330
US
#7
[ame="http://www.amazon.com/Religions-World-11th-Lewis-Hopfe/dp/013606177X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1328392335&sr=1-1"]Amazon.com: Religions of the World (11th Edition) (9780136061779): Lewis M. Hopfe, Mark R. Woodward: Books@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51vl6vuqSrL.@@AMEPARAM@@51vl6vuqSrL[/ame]

This was a good textbook I've held onto over the years.
 

Belloc

Ad Honorem
Mar 2010
5,418
USA
#9
Smith is also an excellent writer on this topic:
[ame="http://www.amazon.com/Worlds-Religions-Great-Wisdom-Traditions/dp/0062508113/ref=pd_vtp_b_4"]Amazon.com: The World's Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions (9780062508119): Huston Smith: Books@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51haHx47N8L.@@AMEPARAM@@51haHx47N8L[/ame]
 
Aug 2011
73
#10
I have looked at all of the above books and the more that I look the more I realise that I should have started to think about the subject forty years ago.

I will re-phase my question and see what that brings.
Religious discussion possibly falls broadly into two areas.

The first area relates to the macro area and covers; How/why did a particular religion evolve and its relationship to the establishment/state from a Marist perception.