Functional origins of religious concepts: Ontological and strategic selection in evolved minds
Journal/Book: J Roy Anthropol Inst. 2000; 6: 50 Fitzroy Street, London, England W1P 5Hs. Royal Anthropological Inst. 195-214.
Abstract: Culturally successful religious concepts are the outcome of selective processes that make some concepts more likely than others to be easily acquired, stored and transmitted. Among the constructs of human imagination, some connect to intuitive ontological principles in such a way that they constitute a small catalogue of culturally successful supernatural concepts. E.uperimental and anthropological evidence confirm the salience and transmission potential of this catalogue. Among these supernatural concepts, cognitive capacities for social interaction introduce a fUrther selection. As a result, some concepts of supernatural agents are connected to morality, group identity, ritual and emotion.These typical'religious' supernatural agerlts are tacitly presumed to have access to information that is crucial to social interaction, an assumption that boosts their spread in human groups.
Note: Article Boyer P, Inst Sci Homme, 14 Ave Berthelot, F-69363 Lyon, FRANCE