Of Gods and Devils

Perceiving the lack of control over the natural and social spheres is psychologically averse. The resulting depression has an effect upon the human animal’s inclusive fitness. In moments of despair and depression, sexual intercourse may be impossible. In order to restore a modicum of control, and th...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Method & theory in the study of religion
Main Author: Ellis, Thomas B.
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: 2016
In:Method & theory in the study of religion
Year: 2016, Volume: 28, Issue: 4/5, Pages: 479-511
Standardized Subjects / Keyword chains:B Human being / World of experience / Control / Religion
Further subjects:B Cognition evolution depression control gods devils
Online Access: Volltext (Verlag)
Description
Summary:Perceiving the lack of control over the natural and social spheres is psychologically averse. The resulting depression has an effect upon the human animal’s inclusive fitness. In moments of despair and depression, sexual intercourse may be impossible. In order to restore a modicum of control, and thus libido, the human animal turns to religion. Religion provides compensatory, and thus adaptive illusions of control. It does this by first turning to the intentional stance and the presence of gods who may be socially manipulated to achieve a desired outcome. This is the nature of worship. Alternatively, religion employs the design stance and the presence of devils that may be mechanically compelled to withdraw. This is the nature of exorcism. Where the latter reflects the “illusion of control,” the former reflects the “illusion of qualified control.” Both cognitive stances are in the service of promoting illusions of power amidst truly random circumstances.
ISSN:1570-0682
Contains:In: Method & theory in the study of religion
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1163/15700682-12341377