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Spandrels, Gazelles and Flying Buttresses: Religion as Adaptation or as a By-Product

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This article discusses recent naturalistic theories of religion from the viewpoint of how the deal with the issue of the origins of religion. It will be argued that the theories can be divided according to if they view religion as being an adaptation or not, on the other hand, and if they consider it to be mostly natural or cultural on the other. On the basis of this discussion, it is suggested that a cognitive mechanism referred to here as the narrative drive seem to have a fundamental role to play in the formation of religious beliefs and, thus, in the origins of religion.


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Affiliations: 1: Department of Comparative Religion, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland


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