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Tagung: The Darwinian Renaissance in the Humanities and Social Sciences, 13.11.2009, London

This meeting will contend that the humanities and social sciences can no longer ignore the central place of evolution as a theoretical framework for understanding human affairs. We hope to showcase new and exciting work from the human evolutionary behavioural sciences in order to provide strong evidence for this assertion. Topics include applying evolution to human culture and cultural transmission, decision-making behaviour, security and politics, methods in anthropology and demography, sociology, and the utility of Darwinian theory for the integration of social science knowledge.

This meeting also celebrates 200 years of Darwin’s birth, 150 years since the publication of The Origin and the launch of a new undergraduate degree in Psychology at Queen Mary, University of London which is underpinned by an evolutionary framework.

Alex Bentley (University of Durham)
Mhairi Gibson (University of Bristol)
Dominic Johnson (University of Edinburgh)
Stephen Lycett (University of Kent at Canterbury)
Alex Mesoudi (Queen Mary, University of London)
Daniel Nettle (Newcastle University)
Ian Penton-Voak (University of Bristol)
Rebecca Sear (London School of Economics and Political Science)

For details please email the organisers,Tom Dickins (Diese E-Mail-Adresse ist vor Spambots geschützt! Zur Anzeige muss JavaScript eingeschaltet sein!) or Qazi Rahman (Diese E-Mail-Adresse ist vor Spambots geschützt! Zur Anzeige muss JavaScript eingeschaltet sein!), or go to this website.

Supported by the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London, The Galton Institute and the European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association (EHBEA)


Neuerscheinung: Eckart Voland und Wulf Schievenhövel (Eds.): The Biological Evolution of Religious Mind and Behaviour


Eckart Voland und Wulf Schievenhövel (Eds.)


The Biological Evolution of Religious Mind and Behaviour


Spektrum Verlag






In a Darwinian world, religious behavior - just like other behaviors - is likely to have undergone a process of natural selection in which it was rewarded in the evolutionary currency of reproductive success. This book aims to provide a better understanding of the social scenarios in which selection pressure led to religious practices becoming an evolved human trait, i.e. an adaptive answer to the conditions of living and surviving that prevailed among our prehistoric ancestors. This aim is pursued by a team of expert authors from a range of disciplines. Their contributions examine the relevant physiological, emotional, cognitive and social processes. The resulting understanding of the functional interplay of these processes gives valuable insights into the biological roots and benefits of religion.


Table of contents
1 Introduction
Wulf Schiefenhövel and Eckart Voland

2 Evaluating the Evolutionary Status of Religiosity and Religiousness
Eckart Voland

3 Gods, Gains, and Genes
Rüdiger Vaas

4 How Some Major Components of Religion Could Have Evolved by Natural Selection?
Jay R. Feierman

5 The Correlated History of Social Organization, Morality, and Religion
David C. Lahti

6 Is There a Particular Role for Ideational Aspects of Religions in Human Behavioral Ecology
Jürgen Kunz

7 Talk and Tradition: Why the Least Interesting Components of Religion May Be the Most Evolutionarily Important
Craig T. Palmer, Ryan M. Ellsworth, and Lyle B. Steadman

8 The Reproductive Benefits of Religious Affiliation
Michael Blume

9 The African Interregnum: The “Where,” “When,” and “Why” of the Evolution of Religion
Matt Rossano

10 Explaining the Inexplicable: Traditional and Syncretistic Religiosity in Melanesia
Wulf Schiefenhövel

11 Authoritarianism, Religiousness, and Conservatism: Is “Obedience to Authority” the Explanation for Their Clustering, Universality and Evolution?
Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr.

12 Cognitive Foundations in the Development of a Religious Mind
Rebekah A. Richert and Erin I. Smith

13 Religious Belief and Neurocognitive Processes of the Self
Shihui Han

14 Neurologic Constraints on Evolutionary Theories of Religion
Erica Harris and Patrick McNamara

15 On Shared Psychological Mechanisms of Religiousness and Delusional Beliefs
Martin Brüne

16 Cognitive Foundations of Religiosity
Ulrich Frey

17 The Religious System as Adaptive: Cognitive Flexibility, Public Displays, and Acceptance
Benjamin Grant Purzycki and Richard Sosis

18 The Evolution of Evolutionary Theories of Religion
Wolfgang Achtner

19 Evolutionary Perspectives on Religion – What They Can and What They Cannot Explain (Yet)
Detlef Fetchenhauer

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