Summary of The Good Book of Human Nature

An Evolutionary Reading of the Bible

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The Good Book of Human Nature book summary
A professor and an historian offer an evolutionary and anthropological interpretation of the Bible.


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Like the Bible it analyzes, this text is lively and varied. Evolutionary anthropologist Carel van Schaik and Kai Michel apply contemporary perspectives from cultural evolution, anthropology and cognitive science to explain their interpretation of the Bible and what it reveals about human nature and the evolution of civilization. This treatment is ambitious, and some will find it controversial. But its examples from history, daily life and the Bible make it a fascinating read. While always religiously neutral, getAbstract recommends this analysis to those who are intrigued by cultural evolution and human nature, but not necessarily to those who prefer a faith-based approach to the Bible.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How evolutionary anthropologist Carel van Schaik and Kai Michel view the Bible from an evolutionary and anthropological perspective,
  • How the Bible reflects human beings’ cultural evolution, and
  • How religion serves cultural functions.


The Bible from an Evolutionary Perspective
Analyzed in light of advances in evolutionary and anthropological theory and via the lens of cognitive science, the Bible can explain key transition points in human cultural evolution. That cultural evolution left people with three distinct natures...
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About the Authors

Carel van Schaik is a professor of biological anthropology at the University of Zurich. Kai Michel is a historian and science journalist.

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