There is a deep connection between the ideas of life, religion, and civilization: life has impelled religion, which has driven civilization, and we need to understand religion through the category of life. Although the history of religions has often been characterized by oppression and violence, religions have also promoted human wellbeing and the fulfilment of life variously conceived, often seen as correcting an error or fault in the human condition. Two sources account for this: first, the history of civilizations themselves and, in particular, the religions that drive them that offer accounts of the relationship between life itself and the living; second, we need to turn to human evolution and to read civilizations in terms of niche construction, the environmental structure that promotes the flourishing of particular life forms. The first account locates explanation in the history of civilizations; the second locates it in the evolutionary and cognitive sciences.
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