Warum wir (an Gott) glauben / why we believe in gods


Now available in German!

  • Der Mensch ist Gottes Schöpfung? – Nein, sagt dieses Buch: Der Mensch hat sich die Götter geschaffen!
  • ​Eine kurze und präzise, leicht lesbare Einführung in die Wissenschaft der Religion  
  • Elegant und klar argumentiert  
  • Ideal zum schnellen Einlesen, als Grundlage für ernsthafte Diskussionen im Spannungsfeld Religion/Wissenschaft – und für das eigene Nachdenken   
  • Im Original ca. 20.000 x verkauft

Why We Believe In God(s) provides a brief and accessible guide to the exciting new discoveries that allow us to finally understand why and how the human mind generates, accepts, and spreads religious beliefs.

German translation available at the source link.  Original English version available at the RDF online store and includes a free DVD.

Written By: J. Anderson Thomson & Clare Aukofer
continue to source article at springer.com


  1. For the non-German speakers, here is my informal translation of the blurb on the sale-site:

    God is created by human beings.

    In this compact and pregnant work, Thomson and Aukofer examine in precise yet comprehensive form the question of how and why the human mind produces religious convictions. Thomson, who has made a name for himself in forensic psychiatry and evolutionary psychology, analyses the components and causes of religious belief just as systematically as a scientist would the movements of the stars or the evolution of life. For him, they are a completely natural phenomenon. In collaboration with Clare Aukofer, he brings together significant data from psychology, research in neurological cognition and related fields and demonstrates in an easily understandable and convincing way that God (or the gods) was created by human beings and not the other way around. With this small volume, Thomson reveals himself as both an author worth reading and as a leading voice in the movement to give priority to reason and science over religion and superstition.

    (done off the cuff and without a dictionary, so please don’t take me to court with it.)


  2. Nice work, Justinesaracen. Below is also my rough translation of the bullets in German at the beginning of this post:

    • Man is God’s creation? No, says this book: Man has created the gods for himself!
    • A brief, precise, easily readable introduction to the science of religion.
    • Elegant and clearly argued.
    • Ideal for getting quickly into the subject, as a basis for serious discussions in the area of conflict between religion and science – and for one’s own thinking.
    • In the original approx. 20 000 x sold.

    • In reply to #3 by jez:

      Why is the “in gods” bit in brackets? That’s a bit like saying in English “Why we believe (in gods)”.

      The use of brackets in the English title why we believe in god(s) to introduce a significant ambiguity would not work in German, because the plural of the German ‘Gott’ (god) is ‘Götter’, which would require two sets of brackets – Go(ö)tt(er) – to get the same logical result, but which looks too odd to have in the title of a book. The German title achieves a similar ambiguous effect (though not logically the same) by simply putting the phrase ‘an Gott’ (in God) in brackets and in a different, softer hue, as though to say in English ‘Why we believe (in God)’, where the object of belief (God) is incidental to the process or mechanism whereby we believe (anything). And whereas the English title also indicates by its eschewal of the conventional use of capitals in titles that the book in some way subverts conventional thinking, the editor of the German title has seen fit to adhere to the corresponding conventions of German orthography.

  3. Sam Harris’ endorsement:

    “Andy Thomson, with Clare Aukofer, has written a wonderfully concise introduction to our growing scientific understanding of religion. If you would like to learn, in the span of an hour, why we have every reason to believe that God is man-made—this is the book to read.”

    We really could do with a lot more collaboration or at least interaction across linguistic divides. The anglo world is nearly completely oblivious to what goes on in the non-english language countries regarding atheist/anti-theist efforts while there is much more awareness in those countries of anglo/american efforts, at least amongst intellectuals/academics.

  4. Gods are created for us as we go along. Rationally, when we elevate our heroes in science, literature, music, etc, to the status of (demi) gods. Irrationally, when our elders impose their gods in a tidal wave upon us, if they have no explanation for the wonders of nature, or when it suits them. Give these entities the benefit of time, and they become hallowed with age. All we can do is swim against the tide.

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