In this thought-provoking new book, Bruce Lerro offers a speculative reconstruction of the sacred beliefs and practices of cultures existing between 30,000 and 500 B.C.E. Lerro describes how material changes in various social formations--including hunting-gathering bands and horticulturalists in villages--were responsible for the shift from magic to realism, from the belief in earth spirits to faith in sky gods. Drawing from such diverse theorists as Marx and Engels, Vygotsky, Piaget, and George Herbert Mead, Lerro critiques and transforms mechanical, humanistic, new age, and countercultural perspectives on the history of sacred traditions. This study of comparative religion and mythology has important applications for the fields of archaeology, evolutionary anthropology, sociology, political science, and comparative psychology.
This is a magnificent and original work with important implications for our understanding of social evolution.--Christopher Chase-Dunn, Johns Hopkins University