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Religion, Intolerance, and ConflictA Scientific and Conceptual Investigation$
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Steve Clarke, Russell Powell, and Julian Savulescu

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199640911

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199640911.001.0001

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The Virtues of Intolerance: Is Religion an Adaptation for War?

The Virtues of Intolerance: Is Religion an Adaptation for War?

Chapter:
(p.67) 4 The Virtues of Intolerance: Is Religion an Adaptation for War?
Source:
Religion, Intolerance, and Conflict
Author(s):

Dominic D. P. Johnson

Zoey Reeve

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199640911.003.0004

This chapter argues that religion is an evolutionary adaptation that promotes the functioning of social groups. In the context of significant inter-group conflict in human evolution, religion may have been favoured by natural selection due to fitness benefits that accrue to the group. It is argued that religion is an adaptation for war, steeling us against fear, encouraging self-sacrifice and heroism, and providing us with a propensity to dehumanize our enemies, making it easier to overcome moral qualms about killing them. As an adaptation for war, religion promotes in-group cooperation and strong intolerance of out-groups.

Keywords:   religion, war, evolutionary adaptation, social groups, inter-group conflict, natural selection, intolerance, cooperation

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