Cookies 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 Evolution of Culture as a New Pattern for Comparative Religion

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

In his new book, Paden argues that evolutionary theory creates new and fertile ground for the comparative study of religion. I suggest that extending Paden’s argument to embrace new theories of cultural evolution will continue to broaden our ability understand the origins of both the similarities and differences in religions across societies. Religions are cultural systems and as such an understanding of our shared biology can only explain a limited amount of what religion is and does. I discuss how new cultural evolutionary theories that examine cultural variation and cultural change based on how humans learn and transmit cultural content and can improve the theoretical foundations of comparative studies of religion. Exploring different mechanisms of cultural learning can help explain why certain features of religion are found across a wide variety of religions while others are only found in specific groups.

Affiliations: 1: University of Oxford, Institute of Cultural & Evolutionary Anthropology 51/53 Banbury Road Oxford, uk, OX2 6PE


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

1. Anthony J. I., Dawson Anigail J., Begany Katelyn L., Leckie Regina L., Barry Kevin P., Ciccia Angela H., Snyder Abraham Z. 2013"fMRI reveals reciprocal inhibition between social and physical cognitive domains" NeuroImageVol 66 385 401 [Crossref]
2. Astuti Rita, Harris Paul 2008"Understanding mortality and the life of the ancestors in rural Madagascar" Cognitive Science: A Multidisciplinary JournalVol 32 4 713 740 [Crossref]
3. Atran Scott, Henrich Joseph 2010"The evolution of religion: How cognitive by-products, adaptive learning heuristics, ritual displays, and group competition generate deep commitments to prosocial religions" Biological TheoryVol 5 1 18 30 [Crossref]
4. Barrett Justin L. 2007"Cognitive science of religion: What is it and why is it?" Religion CompassVol 1 6 1 19 [Crossref]
5. Bloom Paul 2005 Descartes’ Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human New York Basic Books
6. Boyer Pascal 2008"Religion: Bound to believe?" NatureVol 455 23 1038 1039 [Crossref]
7. Brewer J., Gelfand M., Jackson J. C., MacDonald I. F., Peregrine P. N., Richerson P. J., Turchin P., Whitehouse H., Wilson D. S. 2017"Grand challenges for the study of cultural evolution" Nature Ecology and EvolutionVol 1 1 3 [Crossref]
8. Chudek Maciej, Heller Sarah, Birch Susan, Henrich Joseph 2012"Prestige-biased cultural learning: Bystander’s differential attention to potential models influences children’s learning" Evolution and Human BehaviorVol 33 1 46 56 [Crossref]
9. Gervais Will M., Willard Aiyana K., Norenzayan Ara, Henrich Joseph 2011"The cultural transmission of faith: Why natural intuitions and memory biases are necessary, but insufficient, to explain religious belief" Religion, Brain & BehaviorVol 41 1 389 400
10. Henrich Joseph 2009"The evolution of costly displays, cooperation, and religion: Credibility enhancing displays and their implications for cultural evolution" Evolution and Human BehaviorVol 30 244 260 [Crossref]
11. Henrich Joseph 2016 The Secret of Our Success: How Culture is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating our Species, and Making Us Smarter Princeton, NJ Princeton University Press [Crossref]
12. Henrich Joseph, Gil-White Francisco J. 2001"The evolution of prestige: freely conferred deference as a mechanism for enhancing the benefits of cultural transmission" Evolution and Human BehaviorVol 22 3 165 196 [Crossref]
13. Henrich Joseph, McElreath Richard 2003"The evolution of cultural evolution" Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and ReviewsVol 12 123 135 [Crossref]
14. Herrmann Esther, Call Joseph, Hernández-Lloreda María V., Hare Brian, Tomasello Michael 2007"Humans have evolved specialized skills of social cognition: The cultural intelligence hypothesis" ScienceVol 317 5843 1360 1366 [Crossref]
15. Norenzayan Ara 2013 Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict Princeton, NJ Princeton University Press.
16. Purzycki Benjamin G. 2011"Tyvan cher eezi and the socioecological constraints of supernatural agents’ minds" Religion, Brain & BehaviorVol 1 1 31 45 [Crossref]
17. Purzycki Benjamin G. 2013"The minds of gods: A comparative study of supernatural agency" CognitionVol 129 1 163 179 [Crossref]
18. Richerson Peter J., Boyd Robert 2005 Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution Chicago, IL University of Chicago Press
19. Slingerland Edward 2008 What Science Offers the Humanities: Integrating Body and Culture New York Cambridge University Press [Crossref]
20. Slingerland Edward, Chudek Maciej 2011"The prevalence of mind-body dualism in early China" Cognitive ScienceVol 35 5 997 1007 [Crossref]
21. Tomasello Michael, Carpenter Malinda, Call Joseph, Behne Tania, Moll Henrike 2005"Understanding and sharing intentions: The origins of cultural cognition" Behavioral and Brain SciencesVol 28 675 735
22. Willard Aiyana K., Cingl Lubomír in press"Testing theories of secularization and religious belief in the Czech Republic and Slovakia" Evolution and Human Behavior
23. Willard Aiyana K., Henrich Joseph, Norenzayan Ara 2016"Memory and belief in the transmission of counterintuitive content" Human NatureVol 23 3 221 243 [Crossref]

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC 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:
    Method & Theory in the Study of Religion — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation