Cookies Policy
Cookie Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

The Adaptationist-Byproduct Debate on the Evolution of Religion: Five Misunderstandings of the Adaptationist Program

MyBook is a cheap paperback edition of the original book and will be sold at uniform, low price.

Buy this article

$30.00+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites

The primary debate among scholars who study the evolution of religion concerns whether religion is an adaptation or a byproduct. The dominant position in the field is that religious beliefs and behaviors are byproducts of cognitive processes and behaviors that evolved for other purposes. A smaller group of scholars maintain that religion is an adaptation for extending human cooperation and coordination. Here I survey five critiques of the adapationist position and offer responses to these critiques. Much of the debate can be resolved by clearly defining important but ambiguous terms in the debate, such as religion, adaptation, adaptive, and trait, as well as clarifying several misunderstandings of evolutionary processes. I argue that adaptationist analyses must focus on the functional effects of the religious system, the coalescence of independent parts that constitute the fabric of religion.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269-2176, USA;, Email:


Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Create email alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Journal of Cognition and Culture — Recommend this title to your library

    Thank you

    Your recommendation has been sent to your librarian.

  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation