An Alpha Male Deity

In Evolutionary Psychology, David P. Barash reviews Jay D. Glass, The Power of Faith: Mother Nature’s Gift.

[B]ookstores are now filled with efforts on the part of biologists, psychologists, anthropologists and evolutionaryminded philosophers to confront religion. Not all, of course, are critical, but it is safe to say that the majority are, if only because efforts to “biologize” religion – to inquire into its adaptive significance – are unavoidably inimical to believers’ insistence that religion (rather, their religion) is necessarily true, rather than something that people follow because it meets an evolutionary need. By now, most of these works are well known to readers of this journal; Jay Glass’s The Power of Faith probably is not. I have chosen to review it not simply for this reason, but because its main thesis is intriguing and thought-provoking …although, in my opinion, more than a little flawed.

In a nutshell, Glass argues that “In the original state of nature, for both animals and humans, loyalty to a Supreme Being (aka dominant male, king, warlord, etc.) offered protection from enemies and provided the necessities to sustain life. Those that did not put their faith and trust in a god-like figure did not survive to produce the next generation.” The jewel in Glass’s argument is his reworking of the 23rd Psalm, as it might describe members of a chimpanzee troop speaking of the dominant male[.]