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TitleAlpha God : the psychology of religious violence and oppression
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Total Pages241
Table of Contents
Title Page
Copyright Page
Dedication Page
Chapter 1: Enter God the Dominant Ape
	Dominance Defined
	History: How a Dominant Male God Rises to Power
Chapter 2: Evolutionary Mechanisms: Etiology
	Natural Selection
	Sexual Selection
		Mate Competition
		Mate Selection
	Mating Strategies
		Male Jealousy
	Kin Selection and Kin Altruism
	Evolutionary Psychology and the Science of God
Chapter 3: The Protector God
	Protector Males
	Paternal Certainty in Apes, Men, and God
	Problems of Divine Alliance Making
Chapter 4: Sexual Dominance: From Apes to Men to Gods
		Violence and Sexual Access
		Infanticide in Nonhuman Primates
		What Men Want
		What Dominant Men Get
		The Lustful Godhead
		Sexually Repressive Gods: Divine Jealousy
		The Virgin and the King
		Chaste and Submissive
		What Women Want in their Men and Gods
		The Cost to Women and Children
			Violence against Women
			Infanticide in Men and God
	A Case Study
Chapter 5: Cooperative Killing, In-Group Identity, and God
	Evidence in the Microcosm
	Establishing Boundaries with Kin Altruism
		In-Group, Out-Group
	Reciprocal Altruism and Indirect Reciprocity
	God as War-Maker
		Patterns of Primate Alliance-Making
		Costly Signals with God for Help in Killing
	The Great Out-Group Prejudice of Humankind
	The Sociopathy of the In-Group
	Sociopathic Killing
Chapter 6: What it Means to Kneel
	Size and Domination: What it Means to Be Big
		Big Heads, Big Hats
		Eye Contact
		Hand and Foot Kissing
	Submission by Ideological Surrender
Chapter 7: Maladaptive Submission to the Godhead
	The Pecking Order
	Worthlessness and the Sin of Pride
		Sex and the Sin of Lust
		Food and the Sin of Gluttony
	Diminished Ability to Think
Chapter 8: The Fearsome Reputations of Apes, Men, and Gods
	The Origins of Reputation
Chapter 9: God's Territory
	Marking Territory
	Territory: Staking Claim to Sex
	Rape and the Bible
	Staking Claim to Mother Earth
		The Earth as Ecosystem
		Male Competition and Resource Consumption
		Religious Rapacity: An Alternate View
Chapter 10: Righting Ourselves
	The Psychology of the Other
	Pacifism and Selective Observance
	Erecting a Wall
	Societal Health and Future Directions
	Closing Thoughts
About the Author
Document Text Contents
Page 120


“O Prophet of Allah, this is your cousin, Abu Sufyaan, please be happy with him.” Prophet accepted
the intercession of Abbas and said, “I am pleased with him. May Allah forgive all the enmity he
showed against us.” Thereafter, Prophet turned to Abbas and said, “Verily he is our brother.” Abbas
said “I kissed his [Prophet's] blessed foot while he was seated on his camel.”33

Another example of foot kissing in Islam is recounted when the Prophet
becomes annoyed with his follower Umar, who kisses his feet to avert his wrath
(while repeatedly begging his forgiveness):

Then Umar stood up and kissed the blessed feet of the Prophet and said: O Messenger of Allah, we
are pleased with Allah being Sustainer, you being the Prophet, Islam being the Deen and the Holy
Quran being the Guide. Forgive us. Allah would further be pleased with you. So Umar kept on
saying it till the Prophet became pleased.34


Thus far we have seen how apes, men, and gods share nonverbal forms of
communicating dominance and submission. With their genius for abstract
thought, humans also devise ideologies to reinforce hierarchy, such as those
expressed in religious dogma. However sublime such ideologies may appear on
the surface, they serve the primitive dominance strivings of men. As such, men
may enforce their ideologies with the credible threat of violence.
The result is that humans also show submission by unquestioningly adhering

to ideology and show dominance by creating or enforcing ideology. For the
largest religious institutions, ideological control adds to an already immense
base of power, allowing them to consolidate armies, territory, and economic
might spanning nations. Men at the helm of this profusion of power encode
ideological control into law, in effect legislating mind control over the masses.
One example of ideological domination is the “divine right of kings,” which

attests that the king can do no wrong because his earthly power is granted by
God. Thus any challenge to the king's policy, his political ideology, or even his
behavior is considered sacrilege, sanctioned as it is by the most dominant male
in the universe. Proponents of the divine right of kings have often cited scripture
as justification, for example: “By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By
me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth” (Prov. 8:15–16);
and “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but
of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth
the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to

Page 121

themselves damnation” (Rom. 13:1–2).
Similarly, Christianity has a long history of codified ideological control, with

one example among Catholics being the dogma of papal infallibility. This
dogma was promulgated by the Catholic Church at the First Vatican Council of
1870 and states that any dogmatic teaching that the pope conceives of is
infallible. Such teachings are considered to be imparted directly from God and
are therefore uncontestable.35 This is the closest thing to godlike power a human
being can have. As recounted above, the decrees of popes have commanded that
kings drop to the floor and kiss the papal feet.
The notion of heresy, related to infallibility, has been another long-standing

instrument used to maintain religious hierarchy. Heresy can be defined as an
opposing belief or position, or a challenge to dogma—where dogma is an
established religious doctrine not to be disputed or diverged from. In effect,
heresy reflects the proscription against disputing papal infallibility or the divine
right of kings. In the grand spectacle of religious history, efforts to forbid heresy,
with its mutinous challenge to the dominance of kings and religious leaders,
were often coded into law and enforced by execution.
The first Christian to be convicted of heresy was Priscillian, a bishop of Ávila

who was executed in 385 by Roman officials for heresy (or, as the civil charges
read, for practicing magic); religious dogma of the in-group has always been the
true religion, whereas the out-group practices “magic.” Priscillian was
condemned for practices such as allowing women to join with men during prayer
and fasting on the Sabbath.36 Fifteen hundred years later, in 1876, Cayetano
Ripoll suffered the last known execution for heresy conducted by the Roman
Catholic Church. Ripoll was a Spanish school teacher whose mistake was to
teach his students about deism—a religious philosophy that typically rejects
reliance on religious authorities and revealed religion, the notion that religious
dictates are divinely revealed to men like popes and kings. Deism was in many
ways a direct threat to the idea of vicarship and Church dominance over the
subordinated masses.37 Beginning in the twelfth century, the Inquisition, or
Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis (inquiry on heretical perversity), was an
organized mass effort aimed at combating heresy conducted by the judicial
authorities of the Catholic Church. During this centuries-long marathon of
intolerance, the Church murdered, mutilated, and tortured hundreds of thousands
of people suspected of heresy.
Catholics weren't the only ones to persecute and kill on the basis of heresy.

Protestants were also known for executing heretics, most of whom were,
naturally, Catholics. Similarly, Orthodox Jews have historically regarded those

Page 240

God kills, 89, 114
God spares, 82
gods prefer, 76–80
hymen repair, 35
prizes of powerful men, 72, 135
among men, 163
in paradise, 210, 227
as spoils of Biblical war, 91, 208, 209

Vishnu, 79
Vlad the Impaler, 180

Wailing Wall, 201
William the Conqueror, 181
Wolfowitz, Paul, 184

Xenophanes, 11

Yahweh, 22, 23, 24, 25, 74, 190, 197, 200

Zande, 71
Zedekiah (king), 24
Zeus, 47, 58, 73, 76

Page 241

HECTOR A. GARCIA, PsyD, is an assistant professor in the department of
psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and
a clinical psychologist at the Veterans Health Administration specializing in the
treatment of combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He has
published extensively on the treatment of PTSD in combat veterans. He has also
published on the masculine identity in the aftermath of war, stress, and rank in
organizations, and the interplay between religious practice and psychopathology.

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