Human beings live in virtual worlds that define what they value, what they aspire to, and what they are able to imagine. Those virtual worlds are typically shared with fellow members of a given culture, and each culture is a collective projection of the human imagination, instantiated in a way of life. Robert Bellah has written a book whose objective is to understand how those virtual worlds—in other words, those cultures—came into being, and what role religion played in this process.Read the rest of State of the Species.
Merlin Donald is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Psychology and Faculty of Education, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. A cognitive neuroscientist with a background in philosophy, he is the author of many scientific papers and two influential books: Origins of the Modern Mind: Three stages in the evolution of culture and cognition (Harvard 1991) and A Mind So Rare: The evolution of human consciousness (Norton 2001).