Kathrine Starkweather is a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and co­editor of EAS News. Religion is the result of an evolutionary process in human culture. Tinbergen, N. (1963). Attribution of mental states to animated shapes in normal and abnormal development. Over 10 million scientific documents at your fingertips. The natural emergence of reasoning about the afterlife as a developmental regularity. Durrant, R., Adamson, S., Todd, F., & Sellman, D. (2009). Applying evolutionary analyses to the study of religion is fraught with complications and potential misunderstandings. In a discussion with Purzycki, he suggested the path forward for the study of religion by evolutionary anthropologists can serve two critical purposes. (2017). If religion is a western concept that has been used to shore up the authority of the colonial and sovereign state, through shifting, arbitrary demarcations between “religion” tradition, culture, reason, and the nation, then scholars should be wary of treating it as a stable, coherent object of academic study. Brown, G. R., & Richerson, P. J. Mentalizing deficits constrain belief in personal God. This is a preview of subscription content. Terrizzi, J. Smith, E. A., Mulder, M., & Hill, K. (2001). The adaptationist-byproduct debate on the evolution of religion: Five misunderstandings of the adaptationist program. Hunter-gatherers and the origins of religion. Wilson, D. S., & Green, W. S. (2011). Briefly, I will offer a summary of Kundt’s overviews of cultural evolution before providing an overview of his EWCE approach. Scholars employing an evolutionary approach to the study of religion and religious beliefs search for ultimate explanations of the origin, propagation, and persistence of religious beliefs. Scholars employing an evolutionary approach to the study of religion and religious beliefs search for ultimate explanations of the origin, propagation, and persistence of religious beliefs. James R. Liddle and Todd K. Shackelford Oxford Library of Psychology. Drug use and addiction: An evolutionary perspective. The authors also suggest that these results may help understand the evolution of the wide­ranging cooperation found in large­scale societies. On aims and methods in ethology. (2011). In W. G. Oxtoby, R. C. Amore, & A. Hussain (Eds.). Conclusion In conclusion, Kundt has done a great service to the study of religion. Strassman, B. I., Kurapati, N. T., Hug, E. E., Gillespie, B. W., Karafet, T. M., & Hammer, M. F. (2012). Evolutionary accounts of belief in supernatural punishment: A critical review. Specifically, within­group prosociality and cooperation are useful for coordinating in subsistence work or warfare – making sure everyone in the group is fed and safe. Powered by. Evolutionary Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion Historically, evolutionary anthropologists have allocated the majority of our attention to topics like subsistence strategies, parental investment, warfare, etc. They are: commitment theory, which postulates that religion is a system of costly signaling that reduces deception and creates Participation in religious ritual can be very costly for an individual in terms of time, money or even physical pain or bodily harm and the question – from an evolutionary perspective – is why would an individual engage in this costly behavior when there is no obvious reproductive benefit that results? This may be why religions with moralistic gods (e.g. (2014). This is the most popular view that is taught or implied in the study of religion. First and foremost, we hope that this email finds all of you in good health. This force is impersonal and pervades all of creation. Some subjects of interest include Neolithic religion, evidence for spirituality or cultic behavior in the Upper Paleolithic, and similarities in great ape behavior. Religious actions speak louder than words: Exposure to credibility-enhancing displays predicts theism. Bourrat, P. (2015). Johnson, K. A., Li, Y. J., & Cohen, A. Buss, D. M., Haselton, M. G., Shackelford, T. K., Bleske, A. L., & Wakefield, J. C. (1998). The ubiquity of religion, cross-culturally and historically, suggests that it is likely to have an evolutionary basis. A. What predicts religiosity? Researchers focused on a group­level explanation of the role of religion in the evolution of human behavior suggest that an individual might participate in costly behavior because he or she benefits through benefiting the group at large. First, individuals may engage in behaviors that are quite dramatic, but only costly in the short­ term, such as piercing their skin with spears, walking across hot coals and becoming possessed by a deity. In E. Slingerland & M. Collard (Eds.). Sosis, R. (2009). The narrower focus thus will be on analysing methodological natura lism and arguments presented to justify it as the preferable position for all scholars of religion… Not logged in Fundamental social motives and the varieties of religious experience. Cultural influences on the teleological stance: Evidence from China. Nettle, D., Gibson, M. A., Lawson, D. W., & Sear, R. (2013). The God allusion: Individual variation in agency detection, mentalizing and schizotypy and their association with religious beliefs and behaviours. A., & Buhrmester, M. D. (2017). Then, I attempt to push Kundt’s reasoning even further. Evolutionary, Cognitive, and Contextual Approaches to the Study of Religious Systems: A Proposition of Synthesis August 2019 Method & Theory in the Study of Religion Evolutionary psychology: Controversies, questions, prospects, and limitations. (2013). Christianity, Islam) are spread so far and wide around the world and why large­scale societies and prosociality are as well. One topic that has been given only minimal space is religion. (2000). Schloss, J. P., & Murray, M. J. Others, like Benjamin Purzycki, Scott Atran and former EAS president Frank Marlowe, have been examining the contribution of religion to the evolution of increasing population size and societal complexity. restrict the evolutionary study of religion to genetic systems, and many evolution- ary researchers use a naturalized conception of ‘culture’to explain the systems that express and conserve religions (Geertz and Markusson 2010; Gervais et al. Kanazawa, S. (2015). In this article, we introduce the general rationale behind the evolutionary cognitive science of religion, answer some sensible humanistic objections to it and defend the promise of a ‘consilient’ approach to advance the academic study of religion. Barrett, J. L. (2007). The spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian paradigm: A critique of the adaptationist programme. Currently much of the focus on the study of religion more broadly is centered around Abrahamic religions, though Purzycki says, “We know that not all societies are complex, not all religions are Abrahamic, and not all gods are concerned with morality.” We just don’t have a good sense about the variation that exists across cultures, therefore the first step for anthropologists should be describing that variation. Finally, scholars such as Richard Sosis and EAS member Eleanor Power have tested specific predictions that have emerged from evolutionary theory regarding the individual benefits of engaging in religious behavior. The Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology and Religion. (2017). Peoples, H. C., & Marlowe, F. W. (2012). Koppers approach to the study of religion by anthropologists. Belief in a just god (and a just society): A system justification perspective on religious ideology. The origin of religion as a small-scale phenomenon. The eleven volumes of the Origin of the Idea of God (Schmidt and Koppers, Der Ursprung der Gottesidee, 1920-55) are incredibly erudite-but the theological underpinnings are so evident at every step that all but the historians of ethnology can only regret the enormous input of energy Gervais, W. M. (2013). Do triangles play tricks? Atkinson, Q. D., & Bourrat, P. (2011). Westport, CT: … Durrant, R., & Ward, T. (2012). In S. Clarke, R. Powell, & J. Savulescu (Eds.). (2013). Most notably, the evolutionary sciences do not offer one clear procedure to study religion or any human activity. A., Fleischman, D. S., Goetz, C. D., Lewis, D. M. G., Perilloux, C., & Buss, D. M. (2010). logical naturalism and the issue of its justifiability in the evolutionary study of religion as well as for the study of religion in general. The second theory regarding the origin of religion is the evolutionary approach. Because interactionists study one-on-one, everyday interactions between individuals, a scholar using this approach might ask questions focused on this dynamic. The virtues of intolerance: Is religion as an adaptation for war? We have seen an increase in the exploration into evolutionary explanations for religious behavior and religious affiliation in the evolutionary and human behavioral ecological literature over the last few years. Contemporary Evolutionary Theories of Culture and the Study of Religion surveys the historical background of cultural evolution as used in the study of religion, pinpointing major objections to classical nineteenth-century theories. Rethinking the theoretical foundations of sociobiology. Evolutionary theory, he says, can tell us why religion evolved and what it was meant to achieve, which means it can explain why the religious act the way they do. Johnson, D., & Reeve, Z. Second, they can engage in behaviors that are more subtle but also are costly over a longer period of time, such as worshiping at a church or temple each week. Are children “intuitive theists”? possible social bonding functions of religion may help bolster the evolutionary study of religion and simultaneously ease concerns among some of its most ardent critics about the reductionism they believe to be inherent to the field. Religion, meaning, and the brain. In the most primitive period of a culture, the most basic form of religion begins with an innate feeling that a spiritual force exists. First Edition. B. Bulbulia, J. Hafer, C. L., & Sutton, R. (2016). (2013). Baumard, N., & Chevallier, C. (2015). Power showed that community members were perceiving different signals from different modes of practice. Most notably, the evolutionary sciences do not offer one clear procedure to study religion or any human activity. Johnson, D. D. (2005). Discerning devotion: Testing the signalling theory of religion. How do rituals affect cooperation? Costly signalling increases trust, even across religious affiliations. (2014). This article examines three anthropological theories explaining how religion has evolved and continues to evolve. Buss, D. M. (1995). Sosis, R., & Bressler, E. R. (2003). ), Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality. pp 19-53 | Evolution in the genus. Norenzayan, A., Gervais, W. M., & Trzesniewski, K. H. (2012). Watts, F., & Bretherton, R. (2017). Many of us are interested in explaining how particular behaviors allow individual humans to adapt to their surrounding environments in ways that increase their own survival and reproduction, and it isn’t immediately clear that participation in religious behaviors should directly influence either survival or reproduction. Baumard, N., & Boyer, P. (2013). (2006). Dunbar, R. I. M. (2013). In his new podcast for the Religious Studies Project, Callum Brown has given us an excellent introduction to the historical approach to the study of religion. (2017). Sosis, R., & Alcorta, C. (2003). It is argued that each of these approaches can potentially account for important aspects of religion and that frameworks which integrate by-product and adaptationist accounts and draw on the idea of cultural evolution are particularly promising. Not affiliated (2007). Adaptation, exaptations, and spandrels. Proponents of this theory believe, as in the subjective theory, that religion originates with man. Understanding the study of religious phenomena as the study of incomparable individual events severely limits the … Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. He also introduces an alternative evolutionary approach to the study of culture which does not claim that the principles of neo-Darwinian evolution should be applicable outside the biological domain and shows that this alternative evolutionary approach provides a deeply enriching line of enquiry. The ubiquity of religion, cross-culturally and historically, suggests that it is likely to have an evolutionary basis. the honest signal must be received by community members. Brown, G. R., Dickins, T. E., Sear, R., & Laland, K. N. (2011). Jost, J. T., Hawkins, C. B., Nosek, B. Contemporary Evolutionary Theories of Culture and the Study of Religion surveys the historical background of cultural evolution as used in the study of religion, pinpointing major objections to classical nineteenth-century theories. Reddish, P., Tok, P., & Kundt, R. (2016). Peoples, H. C., Duda, P., & Marlowe, F. W. (2016). Signalling theory and the evolution of religious cooperation. Atkinson, Q. D., & Whitehouse, H. (2011). Whitehouse, H., Francois, P., & Turchin, P. (2015). A multidimensional analysis of reproductive and cooperative morals. Roes, F. L., & Raymond, M. (2003). And if prosociality is considered important to that community, one may gain reputational benefits that would afford him or her future survival or reproductive benefits. However, in order to complete the circle and apply the reputational benefits to the appropriate actor, others they weren’t related to or didn’t know and that through this cooperation, group sizes could expand with minimal conflict. Evolutionary psychology: A new paradigm for psychological science. In this chapter we critically review evolutionary approaches to understanding religion by looking, in turn, at three main perspectives: religion as a by-product, religion as an adaptation, and religion as the product of cultural evolutionary processes. Richerson, P., Baldini, R., Bell, A. V., Demps, K., Frost, K., Hillis, V., … Ross, C. (2016). Religious cognition and behaviour in autism: The role of mentalizing. “Religion” is complex and diverse. Belief in a just world. It is one approach to the psychology of religion.As with all other organs and organ functions, the brain's functional structure is argued to have a genetic basis, and is therefore subject to the effects of natural selection and evolution. Where God and Science Meet: How Brain and Evolutionary Studies Alter Our Understanding of Religion: The Psychology of Religious Experience, 82-104. Evolutionary psychology: New perspectives on cognition and motivation. Norenzayan, A., Shariff, A. F., Willard A. K., Slingerland, W. E., Gervais, R. A., McNamara, R. A., & Henrich, J. This paper discusses some questions associated with the evolutionary study of religion. Radek Kundt compares the notion of evolution in cultural evolutionary theories with neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory to determine the value of the biological concept for studying culture. And what does this have to do with religion? Broad supernatural punishment but not moralizing high gods precede the evolution of political complexity in Austronesia. Human behavioral ecology: Current research and future prospects. The nature and dynamics of world religions: A life-history approach. Here we describe the behavioral ecological approach to religion. Yes, No, Neutral, but mostly, we don’t know. In P. McNamara (Ed.). Here we describe the behavioral ecological approach to religion. Beliefs about God, the afterlife and morality support the role of supernatural policing in human cooperation. Evolutionary explanations in the social and behavioural sciences. Perhaps we should entertain the idea that evolutionary theory is unnecessary and that cognitive science can provide suficient explanations without employing evolutionary theories. (2011). Bulbulia, J., & Sosis, R. (2011). Drawing from the latest scientific research, Evolutionary Communication represents a … Evolutionary perspectives on religion: An overview and synthesis. Wilson, D. S., & Wilson, E. O. They suggest that this association may be partially responsible for the evolution of social complexity in that religion served as a mechanism through which people were motivated to act in a prosocial way towards Contemporary Evolutionary Theories of Culture and the Study of Religion surveys the historical background of cultural evolution as used in the study of religion, pinpointing major objections to … A primary focus for the group­ level study of evolution and religion has been on ‘moralistic gods.’ Hervey Peoples and Frank Marlowe (2012) found a positive association between the size and social complexity of a society and belief in a moralistic god or gods (meaning the society has perceptions that gods are increasingly knowledgeable of one’s thoughts and actions and that they are increasingly likely to punish violators of social norms). The ecology of religious beliefs. an overview for an evolutionary approach to religion that is not reliant on “cultural evolution,” which he terms Evolution Without Cultural Evolution (EWCE). (2011). It is call… Origins and evolution of religion from a Darwinian point of view: Synthesis of different theories. Sosis, R., & Bulbulia, J. The role of evolutionary explanations in criminology. On the one hand, the reliance on the Diltheyian conception of Geisteswissenschaften and the “territorial approach”, which argues that scholars in the humanities study exceptional and sole cases, has precluded many scholars from viewing events as part of larger evolutionary processes. Another abiding theme in Evolution, Religion, & Cognitive Science is that of the compatibility of ECSR, either with religious faith and practice or with other scholarly approaches to the study of religion. Is religion an evolutionarily evoked disease-avoidance strategy? Controversies in the evolutionary social sciences: A guide for the perplexed. Durrant, R., & Ward, T. (2011). (2017). Xygalatas, D., Mitkidis, P., Fischer, R., Reddish, P., Skewes, J., Feertz, A. W., & Bulbulia, J. Lanman, J. Using costly signaling theory, some have argued that religion is one way to honestly signal one’s commitment to prosociality within the community. Evolutionary Communication presents the first comprehensive evolutionary approach to the study of human communication. Is religion adaptive. © 2020 Springer Nature Switzerland AG. Evolutionary religious studies: A beginner’s guide. This chapter focuses on cultural or sociocultural evolution. On the varieties of sexual experience. Cognitive science of religion: What is it and why is it? (2015). It begins with a discussion of the Darwinian-inspired evolutionary approach to history. manities (e.g., Tylor’s individualist and intellectualist approach vs. Durkheim’s collectivist and emotionalist approach), the sciences bring a suite of ontologi-cal and epistemological assumptions that divide disciplines studying religion cross-sectionally, producing tremendous volumes of mutually incompatible theories of religion. B., Meyer, K. K., Varley, A. H., & Brewer, G. A. Watts, J., Greenhill, S. J., Atkinson, Q. D., Currie, T. E., Bulbulia, J., & Gray, R. D. (2015). In P. McNamara (Ed.). Perceiving minds and gods: How mind perception enables, constrains, and is triggered by belief in gods. Weeden, J., & Kurzban, R. (2013). This quest often pairs in debate two opposing perspectives: the adaptationist and “by-product” explanations of religion and religious beliefs. Belief in moralizing gods. In P. McNamara (Ed. Presuming no specialized knowledge of evolutionary theory, this reader-friendly textbook explains why and how communication became the determining factor in human development. One topic that has been given only minimal space is religion. Subsistence and the evolution of religion. Reasoning about purpose and design in nature. The evolutionary origin of religions and religious behavior is a field of study related to evolutionary psychology, the origin of language and mythology, and cross-cultural comparison of the anthropology of religion. This service is more advanced with JavaScript available, Religion, Crime and Punishment Kirkpatrick, L. (2006). White, C., Baimel, A., & Norenzayan, A. (2016). Confer, J. C., Easton, J. Richerson, P. J., & Newson, L. (2008). Those who perform greater and costlier acts in the short­term are more likely to be perceived as physically strong and hard­working, while those performing subtle, long­term investment behaviors are more likely to be seen as more devout and more prosocial by their peers. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2016.07.003, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-64428-8_2. The cultural evolution of prosocial religions. Extreme rituals promote prosociality. In T. Heams, P. Huneman, G. Lecointre, & M. Silberstein (Eds.). Fischer, R., Callander, R., Reddish, P., & Bulbulia, J. A., Hennes, E. P., Stern, C., Gosling, S. D., & Graham, J. Schmitt, D. P., & Fuller, R. C. (2015). This has been a challenging few months for all of us, with no end in sight…, We hope that you are all managing to find some peace and balance in these challenging times…. Abell, F., Happe, F., & Frith, U. The behavioural ecology of religion: The benefits and costs of one evolutionary approach. Power, E. A. God’s punishment and public goods. Nature’s medicine: Religiosity as an adaptation for health and cooperation. Wood, B., & Baker, J. Riekki, T., Lindeman, M., & Raij, T. T. (2014). This recent focus has also shed new light on the importance of further empirical and theoretical exploration into all aspects of religious behavior and motivations from an evolutionary perspective. Where do gods come from? Hall, D. L., Cohen, A. Amore, R. C. (2014). Buddhist traditions. In J. Bulbulia, R. Sosis, & E. Harris (Eds.). We hope that you all enjoyed the AAA/CAA meeting in Vancouver as much as we did…. Therefore, an individual’s costly contribution to the group cooperative effort may be seen as beneficial to all and people with such a reputation may gain individual benefits. But, here we bump up against yet another potential problem for evolutionary anthropologists. Wlodarski, R., & Pearce, E. (2016). Supernatural believers attribute more intentions to random movements than skeptics: An fMRI study. Bering, J., & Bjorklund, D. F. (2004). Cite as. Cultural group selection plays an essential role in explaining human cooperation: A sketch of the evidence. In S. Clarke, R. Powell, & J. Savulescu (Eds.). Next, in order to have a better grasp on how and for what purposes religion evolved, we need to explain the variation. Durrant, R., & Haig, B. D. (2001). Applying evolutionary theory to human behaviour: Past differences and current debates. Applying evolutionary analyses to the study of religion is fraught with complications and potential misunderstandings. Sosis and others have shown evidence for the honesty of the signal: religious signalers across societies are, on average, more prosocial than those who do not signal their commitment to the group via religious ritual. Why should prosociality matter to other community members? Botero, C. A., Gardner, B., Kirby, K. R., Bulbulia, J., Gavin, M. C., & Gray, R. D. (2014). The cultural morphospace of ritual form: Examining modes of religiosity cross-culturally. The evolutionary psychology of religion is the study of religious belief using evolutionary psychology principles. Evolutionary accounts of human behavioural diversity. Religion poses a problem for evolutionary anthropologists. Kelemen, D. (2004). The role of ritual in the evolution of social complexity: Five predictions and a drum roll. Religion is not an adaptation. In C. Sabbagh & M. Schmitt (Eds.). Smith, Z., & Arrow, H. (2010). A well-disposed social anthropologist’s problems with the ‘cognitive science of religion’ Kathrine Starkweather is a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for evolutionary Anthropology and co­editor of EAS News attempt! Adaptationist and “by-product” explanations of religion: what is it and why large­scale societies E. R. ( 2003 ) a!: an overview of his EWCE approach ritual in the subjective theory, that religion originates with man,... Beliefs and behaviours gods: how Brain and evolutionary Studies Alter our Understanding of religion: overview! F. L., & Alcorta, C. L., & Ward, T. ( 2014 ) cultural before... Gervais, W. S. ( 2011 ) the world and why is it a just society:. Islam ) are spread so far and wide around the world and why societies. Around the world and why is it and why is it and why large­scale societies this article examines three theories! You all enjoyed the AAA/CAA meeting in Vancouver as much as we did… a Darwinian point view. Weeden, J., evolutionary approach to the study of religion Pearce, E. A., & Bressler E.. Human culture 2009 ) framework, they have disagreed about which hypotheses best describe the nature of religion: predictions. Kundt’S overviews of cultural evolution before providing an overview of his EWCE approach evolutionary basis on religion the! 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