" The psychology of religion has been muddied by scholars' attempts to exalt it while understanding it. "
" What kind of mind would do something as useless as inventing ghosts and bribing them for good weather? "
" In culture after culture, people believe that the soul lives on after death, that rituals can change the physical world and divine the truth, and that illness and misfortune are caused and alleviated by spirits, ghosts, saints, fairies, angels, demons, cherubim, djinns, devils, and gods. "
" Nonliterate peoples are not psychotic hallucinators who are unable to distinguish fantasy from reality. They know there is a humdrum world of people and objects driven by the usual laws, and find the ghosts and spirits of their belief system to be terrifying and fascinating precisely because they violate their own ordinary intuitions about the world. "
" Religious concepts are human concepts with a few emendations that make them wondrous and a longer list of standard traits that make them sensible to our ordinary ways of knowing. "
" Believers also avoid working out the strange logical consequences of these piecemeal revisions of ordinary things. They don't pause to wonder why a God who knows our intentions has to listen to our prayers, or how a God can both see into the future and care about how we choose to act. "
" Shamans and priests are Wizards of Oz who use special effects, from sleight-of-hand and ventriloquism to sumptuous temples and cathedrals, to convince others that they are privy to forces of power and wonder. "