Emotional bonds: Bridging the gap between evolutionary and humanistic accounts of religious belief

Recent years have seen a growing willingness in the evolutionary cognitive science of religion (ECSR) to embrace an inclusive, theoretically pluralistic approach and the emergence of a broad consensus around some key themes that collectively constitute a central theoretical core of the field. Nevert...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Archive for the psychology of religion
Main Author: Turner, Léon 1973-
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: [2020]
In:Archive for the psychology of religion
Year: 2020, Volume: 42, Issue: 1, Pages: 6-28
Online Access: Verlag
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Summary:Recent years have seen a growing willingness in the evolutionary cognitive science of religion (ECSR) to embrace an inclusive, theoretically pluralistic approach and the emergence of a broad consensus around some key themes that collectively constitute a central theoretical core of the field. Nevertheless, ECSR still raises serious problems for some in the humanities. In exploring the reasons for the perception of conflict between humanistic and cognitive evolutionary approaches to religion, I suggest that both ECSR’s default account of the origins of religion and religion’s role in social bonding rely upon notions of culturally unmediated universal cognitive mechanisms that preclude alternative humanistic explanations. I subsequently suggest that the gap between humanistic approaches and the evolutionary study of religion more broadly conceived may be narrowed by further expanding ECSR to include recent research into the brain opioid theory of social attachment (BOTSA), which emphasises the emotional rather than cognitive basis of religion’s social bonding functions. Finally, I outline a possible evolutionary account of the earliest forms of religious ideas and practices, which decouples the origins of religion from the evolution of specialised cognitive machinery and which humanists are likely to find more amenable than mainstream ECSR.
ISSN:1573-6121
Contains:Enthalten in: Archive for the psychology of religion
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1177/0084672420909436