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The Source: Alpha God, Alpha Male

Could evolutionary psychology be an explanation for religious violence, oppression, and belief itself? A new book argues that human’s belief in a single god can be traced back to our biological tendencies.

Hector A. Garcia’s Alpha God discusses evidence from various religions’ texts, practices, and laws to prove that religion connects to our very basic instincts. The psychological desire for an alpha male and sex may be reasons why religious violence happens and even why we believe in the first place. Garcia takes primal behaviors observed in animals and applies them to various aspects of religion, from ancient biblical Scripture to modern-day ISIS.

The book tackles issues such an all-powerful God and chastity and connects them to primates’ tendencies to seek out alpha males, monopolize females, and dominate other males. Garcia claims that these natural drives have not only shaped religion, but are exactly what have made it so powerful.

At the end of this segment, a listener asked about the Mormon Church and polygamy. Our guest, Hector Garcia, in responding to the listener’s question, cited a study about the hierarchy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, informally referred to as the Mormon Church. Some listeners expressed concern that the response incorrectly implied that the Mormon Church currently condones polygamy.

Garcia’s comments were referring to the early history of the Mormon Church, which banned polygamy in the "1890 Manifesto" written by church leader Wilford Woodruff.


  • Hector Garcia, professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center
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