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

Spandrels, Gazelles and Flying Buttresses: Religion as Adaptation or as a By-Product Journal of Cognition and Culture 7 (2007) 293–312 www.brill.nl/jocc © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2007 DOI: 10.1163/156853707X208521 Spandrels, Gazelles and Flying Buttresses: Religion as Adaptation or as a By-Product Tom Sjöblom Department of Comparative Religion, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland tom.sjoblom@helsinki.fi Abstract Th is 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. Keywords Religion, naturalistic theories, theory of mind, biophilia, narrative drive Prelude: In Search of Origins While scholars and scientist still argue how to defi ne ‘religion’, most of us seem to agree that it is a universal trait among humans (see, e.g., Brown, 1991, p. 48, p. 139; Hinde, 1999; http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Cognition and Culture Brill

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

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Publisher
BRILL
Copyright
© 2007 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1567-7095
eISSN
1568-5373
D.O.I.
10.1163/156853707X208521
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Journal of Cognition and Culture 7 (2007) 293–312 www.brill.nl/jocc © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2007 DOI: 10.1163/156853707X208521 Spandrels, Gazelles and Flying Buttresses: Religion as Adaptation or as a By-Product Tom Sjöblom Department of Comparative Religion, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland tom.sjoblom@helsinki.fi Abstract Th is 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. Keywords Religion, naturalistic theories, theory of mind, biophilia, narrative drive Prelude: In Search of Origins While scholars and scientist still argue how to defi ne ‘religion’, most of us seem to agree that it is a universal trait among humans (see, e.g., Brown, 1991, p. 48, p. 139; Hinde, 1999;

Journal

Journal of Cognition and CultureBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2007

Keywords: BIOPHILIA; RELIGION; THEORY OF MIND; NATURALISTIC THEORIES; NARRATIVE DRIVE

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