cultural evolution


Keeping the Bar Steady: The Complexities of Interdisciplinary Approaches to Religion

While evolution does provide a biologically rooted framework that affords cognitive psychologists the theoretical rationale for extrapolating that all cultures utilize the same mental facilities (albeit quite differently depending on their environment), in order to explain religion in all its variants both past and present, cognitive psychology is both necessary and sufficient.

An Outline of Norenzayan’s ‘Big Gods’

When belief in God was distilled into belief in a mean God (i.e., vengeful, and punishing) versus belief in a nice God (i.e., compassionate and forgiving), participants endorsing a mean-God concept were less likely to cheat relative to nice-God supporters. In his book Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict, Dr. Ara Norenzayan addresses two “puzzles” about human existence. First, how were large-scale societies able to develop?

Religion in the Age of Cyborgs

What happens to religion if the future belongs to the cyborgs? Merlin Donald’s Big Thoughts on the evolution of culture offer opportunities to speculate about the place of religion in the natural history of our species – an opportunity most recently taken by Robert Bellah in his much discussed last book, Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age (2011).