After studying philosophy at Georgetown University, Tom McNamara enrolled in a New York Roman Catholic seminary for six years, but declined ordination. He continued his studies in philosophy and theology at the Université de Lyon (France) and Universität Tubingen (Germany) before returning to the University of Colorado where he received his PhD in counseling and guidance. After working as a clinical psychologist in private practice and as a psychology instructor at CU, he became director of human resources for a large Colorado manufacturing company. He then returned to academia, first as a psychology instructor in Cairo, Egypt, and then as professor of psychology at Temple University’s campus in Tokyo, Japan. During 12 years in Tokyo, McNamara also did consulting and human resource training for Japanese and U.S. multinational corporations.
Returning to the U.S., he wrote Evolution, Culture, and Consciousness which presents a radically new theory of the functions of culture and consciousness in human evolution. His theory is based on a comprehensive interpretation of major neurological research and extrapolates from the work of Edward Wilson, Gerald Edelman, Richard Dawkins, and others. It shows that while we traditionally think of consciousness and culture, including religion, as manifestations of human freedom, they are instead prehistoric control mechanisms, operating via a preconscious process learned in early childhood by which we create meaning out of our experiences. McNamara believes that these learned cognitive behaviors have become the major obstacle to our social advancement. He is now writing his next book, on the evolution of religion.