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Challenges to Moral and Religious BeliefDisagreement and Evolution$
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Michael Bergmann and Patrick Kain

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199669776

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199669776.001.0001

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Religion is More than Belief

Religion is More than Belief

What Evolutionary Theories of Religion Tell Us about Religious Commitments

(p.256) 13 Religion is More than Belief
Challenges to Moral and Religious Belief

Richard Sosis

Jordan Kiper

Oxford University Press

Although various scholars contend that evolutionary accounts of religion challenge the warrant for religious commitments and the veracity of religious beliefs, this chapter argues otherwise. Evolutionary science has revealed many of the proximate mechanisms involved in producing religious beliefs and behaviors, but these mechanisms alone do not speak to the truth or falsity of religion. What evolutionary science does tell us is that because selective pressures have shaped religious expressions by uniting behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and developmental capacities in the human lineage, religion is a cultural institution that constitutes more than a set of supernatural propositions. This chapter examines theories and evidence for the evolution of religion which suggest that religion is a complex system that adaptively responds to socio-ecological conditions. Evolutionary theories show that religious commitments are not achieved through rational contemplation of explicit propositions, but rather emerge through ritual participation and the interaction of several systemic elements.

Keywords:   belief, complex adaptive systems, evolutionary theory, religion, ritual

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