The Biological Evolution of Religious Mind and Behavior (The Frontiers Collection)
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In a Darwinian world, religious behavior - just like other behaviors - is likely to have undergone a process of natural selection in which it was rewarded in the evolutionary currency of reproductive success. This book aims to provide a better understanding of the social scenarios in which selection pressure led to religious practices becoming an evolved human trait, i.e. an adaptive answer to the conditions of living and surviving that prevailed among our prehistoric ancestors. This aim is pursued by a team of expert authors from a range of disciplines. Their contributions examine the relevant physiological, emotional, cognitive and social processes. The resulting understanding of the functional interplay of these processes gives valuable insights into the biological roots and benefits of religion.
are equipped with evolutionarily adaptive survival characteristics that promote the easy transmission of particular violations of cognitive expectations, including violations of human constraints. Similarly, the preparedness hypothesis is a theory specifically based on the role of folk-psychology in God concepts and argues children are cognitively equipped from an early age to develop concepts of God (and other non-humans) independently from their concepts of people (Barrett and Richert 2003).
This assumption is in stark contrast to classical thinking about secularization theories a la Durkheim and Weber who argued already a100 years ago that in modern societies religion would lose more and more of its functions and was bound to eventually go extinct. This obviously has not happened. Still, it is important to note that in modern societies religiosity has indeed declined in the last decades and is still declining today (Norris and Inglehart 2004). Using data from the World Value
scientists still tend to assume (Pinker 2002). However, many evolutionary theorists tend to ignore the fact that the social and physical environment of today’s humans is very different from what it looked like 100,000 years ago. Literally thousands of empirical studies show that the behavior of a certain person in a certain environment is determined by both the specific person and the specific environment this person has to deal with. Consequently, although the human mind has evolved in times
Possible Evolutionary Perspectives on Religion Theoretically, there are a number of alternatives how religion might be explained from an evolutionary perspective: religion can either be (1) adaptive, (2) a byproduct, or (3) dysfunctional (Philipse 2006). To regard religiosity as dysfunctional might appear absurd: why could it have evolved if it lowered the inclusive fitness of its believers? Yet, there are many behaviors in modern humans that might have been adaptive in earlier times, but are
world. Therefore, the sophisticated Eipo systems of classifying plants (Hiepko and Schiefenhövel 1987) and animals (Blum 1979), even the most insignificant ones, legends (Heeschen 1990) about how the sun and the moon (a loving couple in Eipo religion) came into being and what theirnature is, why women menstruate and bearchildren , why there is love, hate, war and peace. Yet, this aspect of a world in need of getting explained, thereby a functional view of religion, does not figure prominently in