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The Believing PrimateScientific, Philosophical, and Theological Reflections on the Origin of Religion$
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Jeffrey Schloss and Michael Murray

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199557028

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199557028.001.0001

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Is Religion Adaptive?

Is Religion Adaptive?

Yes, No, Neutral. But Mostly We Don’t Know

Chapter:
(p.100) 4 Is Religion Adaptive?
Source:
The Believing Primate
Author(s):

Peter J. Richerson

Lesley Newson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199557028.003.0005

This chapter examines whether religion is adaptive: if it changes from one generation to another, from a specific culture to another, and how other domains of culture influence changes in a certain religion. It begins by providing the basics of evolution, including adaptation and selection of characteristics at multiple levels. It explains how religion promotes cooperation, and which elements of religion contribute to this and how effective they are. Also, it explores how established churches depend and select a certain frequency of believers, as in the same community, same culture, etc. The chapter concludes that even in the presence of biological and cultural complexity and diversity, religions are unlikely to support generalizations about adaptation versus maladaptation.

Keywords:   adaptation of religion, evolution, culture, established churches

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