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“Pseudo-Speciation of the Human Race:Religions as Hazard-Precaution Systems”1

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Abstract Human individuals and groups have faced not only immediate and obvious threats to their welfare that trigger a flight-fight-or-freeze response but also long-term and unpredictable challenges to their general security. Defence systems against such threats involve detecting subtle signs of potential danger and eliciting precautionary responses to them. I will argue here that there is sufficient evidence in the historical, psychological, and anthropological literature to suggest that religions emerged as such “natural security systems.” I will also suggest, however, that with the global improvement in human physical well-being religions no longer play this kind of protective role and may themselves have become a threat to modern civilization.

Affiliations: 1: Trinity College, University of TorontoDepartment of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, University of South


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