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In Gods We TrustThe Evolutionary Landscape of Religion$
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Scott Atran

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195178036

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195178036.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 January 2022

The Sense of Sacrifice

The Sense of Sacrifice

Culture, Communication, and Commitment

(p.114) 5 The Sense of Sacrifice
In Gods We Trust


Oxford University Press

Religious commitment always involves public expression and the exercise of moral sentiment. Religious offerings always involve nonrecuperable cost, no matter how economically flexible they appear. This is so because human representations of agency and intention include representations of false belief and deception, human society is forever under threat of moral defection. This chapter explores how among the ancient peoples of the Middle East, Europe, India, Africa, Mesoamerica, North America, South America, and Oceania, sacrificial use of human blood expressed many important ritual ideas. It follows that displays of credible commitment are as significant as the behavioral commitments they are meant to signify. Religious sacrifices are not only designed to be materially costly, they also aim to be emotionally arousing.

Keywords:   religious offerings, sacrifice, Religious sacrifices, human blood, ancient peoples

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