This blog covers the vast, interdisciplinary field of evolutionary religious studies. It explores the following questions: (1) is there something about the evolved brain-mind that inclines humans towards animist thinking or religious belief; (2) can individual or group level selection account for any such features of brain-mind; (3) can we discern animist-religious activities or beliefs from the archaeological record (and if so, what kinds); (4) how have these activities and beliefs changed over time; and (5) what might explain such changes? Methodologically, my goals are to test proposed answers to these questions with ethnographic data on hunter-gatherers and historical data on “religions.”
This blog is now in its fourth year and contains ~850 posts. I have tagged these in ways that should make the subject in which you are interested easy to find using the blog’s “Search” function. Alternatively, you can explore larger topic categories by using the links in the “Topic Cloud.” Most posts have internal links (and citations) to books and articles on the subject being addressed. True gluttons for word punishment can get to the bottom, or beginning, of the blog simply by starting on the Home page and then scrolling for a long time. You will eventually get there.
Guest Contributor/Administrator: Christopher Kavanagh holds an MSc in Cognitive & Evolutionary Anthropology from St. Cross College, an MA in Social Anthropology from the School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London (SOAS), and a BA in Study of Religion, also from SOAS. He is currently pursuing a PhD at Oxford University (Institute of Cognitive & Evolutionary Anthropology) under the supervision of Professor Harvey Whitehouse but is based in Prof. Masaki Yuki’s social psychology lab at Hokkaido University, Japan. His research explores the cognitive features underlying the social bonding that accompanies collective rituals using cross-cultural and quasi-experimental methods. Chris is conducting fieldwork at festivals across Japan, where he examines the effects of dysphoric high-arousal rituals.