Robert N Bellah’s narrative on faith in human evolution is remarkable and continues with the Big Bang before the first millennium of the Axial Period. The book is a product of life-long study by scientists who derived components from sociology, history, physiological and biological creation, as well as materials of anthropology. The ideas conveyed in the book are a reconstruction of three typical threads. In the first theory and archeological data presentations are identified and thus for researchers in various fields the cornerstone of religious studies during recent decades (Bellah 22). According to Bellah, the tribal religion focused on the religious reconstruction of humans in the Stone Age while largely depending on ethnographic research about the modern tribal societies thus offering a representation of the practices lost and ideas that happened in the ancient past.
Among the various aspiration of the work done by Bella, he was able to address both evolution and religion in their own terms thus locating the learners within the tales that elaborate the condition of human race in an informed manner. This was facilitated by emerging research conducted on both terrains thus resulting to a grand description printed in full indulgent of the limitations and failures of the past narratives. The author is also able to accomplish a magnum composition established on keen research and absorbed in reflective judgments of the best writers and thinkers due to many ideas that require continued attention and restricted thought. Moreover, Bellah is able to expose an extraordinary intelligence on the limit of human knowledge made available to potential learners. Another accomplishment of the book is the valiant attempt to comprehend religion viewing it as the largest picture in everything including the universe and life(Bellah 54). This is evident in the intelligent design of searching for embryonic hints of human behaviors in the evolution ladder. In addition; the author achieves commonality which gives an indication of the time and places a specific human religious activity was initiated. The endless inquisitiveness displayed in the entire book sets a discussion tone of religion in public spheres. Bellah is among the exceptional social scientist who studies the derivation of religion as well as actively participating in Christian congregations. In his work, learners can experience an exhaustive appreciation of human debts in the prehistoric lineages together with the people responsible for expulsion of initial world species(Bellah 61).
According to the author, a religious representation can be described in three modes which include the symbolic, enactive and conceptual way which are believed to be the initiators of the ancient religion. The work is largely concerned with axial age whereby 500 years before the birth of Christ, four immense religious civilizations thrived. These cultures include the ancient Israel, Confucian China, the classical Greece as well as the Buddhist India. They all experienced remarkable tension between the political and religious influence in greater extents as compared to the preceding cultures(Bellah 47). As a result, the religious conviction of the axial age endorsed philosophical assumptions in addition to presenting a spiritual relieve. Using these modes Bellah is able to elaborate how various religious proceedings are made possible like in explaining a certain prophecy associated to any of the four religious traditions due to the in-depth and impending ability to range the proceedings. The author explains that persistent verbalism and belief emphasis placed especially on Protestant denominations may be viewed as the core of religion but any form of modal religion is essentially practiced. Enactive cultures exist alongside the theoretical practices through individuals becoming personified and largely absent to consciousness thus making the culture more efficient as compared to the past. People’s embodiment and the pace they follow in religion are inescapable. Myths are also among the prevailing modes of religious cultures representation. Theoretical awareness of a sensible sort formulated initially with the initiation of literacy paved way for conceptual examinations(Bellah 172). A parable facilitates the level of cultural understanding since they are religiously and ethically charged tales which are uncontested forms of consciousness.
Creatures are represented by the whole genetic property of a certain population which usually resolves the achievements and the potential of the species to adapt. Species are therefore referred to as reproductive communities with an individual from specified animal species being able to recognize their potential mate in the reproduction process. Bellah also describes a species as an ecological element that interacts with other species as an entity regardless of the component individuals(Bellah 361). It consists of a huge intercommunicating pool of genes with the individuals being temporary vessels that hold up smaller portions of the genes content for a short time duration. Evolutionists argue that evolution attempts to clarify how work is processed by nature without considering the existence of God. Bellah’s model describes biological evolution as an isolation and complexity increase process that takes place in accordance with the societies development. He, therefore, came up with five correlated levels to distinguish the civilization growth. These levels include the primitive region which is characterized by an ancient horde with minimal socializations as well as the archaic religion which consist of a functional separation between politics and religion(Bellah 311). There is also the historical religion which is made up of transcendent religion and cultures in addition to the early modern religion which includes reformations in political and religious fields. Moreover, the author describes evolution in modern religion as a private entity with pluralism involved. Teleological method of understanding evolution has facilitated the collection of appropriate results in historical observations.
Cultural evolution differs significantly with the genetic evolution due to various factors. The environment is the first concern whereby both the cultural and genetic evolution is influenced by the environmental adaptation factors that determine their survival and reproduction on various surroundings(Bellah 273). Human beings make up both the cultural and natural environment since their occupations continuously result to the reproduction of a culture. In the second stage, genetic evolution influences random modifications through reproduction processes. Tailored phenotypes occur to be adequately adapted to respective environments thus increasing their reproduction rate. However, cultural production is not an entirely casual process since individuals may act intentionally to produce better cultures or surroundings(Bellah 278).
In conclusion, it is evident that out of Bellah’s extensive research on various fields, he was able to accomplish some clear explanations as to why various activities in a certain religion came into existence. He has adequately presented work to explain extensively how various social, cultural, economic and political factors are put in place to explain the evolution of religion. Bellah believes in religious naturalism since individuals naturally adapt to various religious denominations due to the various reasons which may be internally or externally influenced(Bellah 411).
Bellah, Robert Neelly. Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011.