God Is Watching You: How the Fear of God Makes Us Human
Hardback, 304 pages
The Flood that God used to destroy the sinful race of man on the earth crystalizes the universally recognized concept of payback. For millennia human civilization has relied on such beliefs to create a moral order that threatens divine punishment on people who commit crimes or other bad deeds, while promising rewards - abstract or material - for those who do good. Today, while secularism and unbelief are at an all-time high, this almost superstitious willingness to believe in karma persists.
We find ourselves imagining what our parents, spouse, or boss would think of our thoughts and actions, even if they are miles away and will never find out. We often feel that we are being monitored. We talk of eyes burning into the backs of our heads, the walls listening, a sense that someone or something is out there, observing our every move, aware of our thoughts and intentions.
God Is Watching You is an exploration of this belief as it has developed over time and how it has shaped the course of human evolution. Dominic Johnson explores questions such as: How has a concern for supernatural consequences affected the way human society has changed, how we live today, and how we will live in the future? Does it expand or limit the potential for local, regional and global cooperation today? How will the current decline in religious belief (at least in many western countries) affect selfishness and society in the future? And what, if anything, is replacing our ancient concerns for supernatural punishment as the means to temper self-interest and promote cooperation? In short, do we still need God?
Drawing on new research from anthropology, evolutionary biology, experimental psychology, and neuroscience, Johnson presents a new theory of supernatural punishment that offers fresh insight on the origins and evolution of not only religion, but human cooperation and society. He shows that belief in supernatural reward and punishment is no quirk of western or Christian culture, but a ubiquitous part of human nature that spans geographical regions, cultures, and human history.
1: Why Me?
2: Sticks and Stones
3: Hammer of God
4: God Is Great
5: The Problem of Atheists
6: Guardian Angels
7: Nations Under God
8: The World Without God
9: God Knows