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For thousands of years, spiritual questions have haunted the hearts and minds of humankind. Do higher powers exist, and if so, what is our relationship to them? And how else might we interpret seemingly miraculous events such as faith healing, out-of-body experiences, and extrasensory perceptions?
Wondrous Healing traces the human capacity for religious belief to the success of ancient healing rituals, such as chanting to calm women in childbirth or rhythmic dancing to reduce trauma from wounds. Those who accepted these hypnotic suggestions were far more likely to receive positive benefits from the "healing." The apparent success of such rituals, McClenon argues, led to the development of shamanism, humankind's first religion.
Controversial and daring, McClenon's theory is based on his extensive research and firsthand observation of modern shamanistic performances across Asia and North America. His evidence supports the argument that evolutionary processes developed a biological basis for religion. McClenon's historical and anthropological analyses of these issues explore the relationship between science, society, and spirituality.