Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science

Volume 8, Issue 9 (September 2018)

ISSN Print: 2160-5866   ISSN Online: 2160-5874

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Evolutionary Origin of Religions and Religious Evolution: Religious Neurosociology

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DOI: 10.4236/jbbs.2018.89030    569 Downloads   1,691 Views  
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ABSTRACT

The paper proposes that the evolutionary origin of religions is based on theory of mind as the product of interdependent division of labor between the forest specialist group (women and small children) and the woodland specialist group (men) in early hominins who lived in the mixed forest-woodland habitat. To complement each other’s work without interfering each other’s work, one specialist group had to recognize (imagine) that the other specialist group existed to think for themselves and to do different works. The result was theory of mind which is to recognize (imagine) that the others exist to think for themselves. (The forest-woodland groups became the hunter-gatherer groups for the Homo species in the savanna habitat.) Under existential pressure, hominins invented imaginary specialists as imaginary agents who existed to think for themselves and to do different works in imaginary division of labor to enhance survival chance. The result was religion with imaginary behaviors. Therefore, religion is defined as a set of beliefs and behaviors based on theory of mind that produces a shared imagination to enhance survival chance under existential pressure. This paper proposes that the religious evolution consists of the premodern imaginative religion for local society habitat starting from bipedalism, the modern rational imaginative religion for regional society habitat starting from the Axial Age, and the postmodern diverse rational imaginative religion for global society habitat starting from the Information Revolution. In conclusion, the religious brain is the imaginative brain, and the religious social behaviors are imaginary social behaviors. The religious evolution is the evolution of human imagination to enhance survival chance under existential pressure, such as the religious reinforcement of social bonds to enhance the survival chance of social group and the religious relief of stress and anxiety to enhance the survival chance of individuals.

Cite this paper

Chung, D. (2018) Evolutionary Origin of Religions and Religious Evolution: Religious Neurosociology. Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science, 8, 485-511. doi: 10.4236/jbbs.2018.89030.

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