This article considers the application of sexual selection theory to the study of religion by discussing the basic concepts and theories in sexual selection and then outlines possibilities of its application to the study of the evolution of religion. The first section outlines basic principles in the sexual selection account, including the evolution of human mating strategies based on dimorphism, gender differences in human mating strategies, and the role of different cultural activities in mating dynamics. Such an overview may be (...) useful for the readers who are less familiar with the basic assumptions of the sexual selection theory. The remaining sections demonstrate how religion may function as a signal for mating qualities associated with a long-term mating strategy and how different facets of religiosity may help to support long-term mating strategies. The key idea of the article is that there are good reasons to try to explain the evolution of at least some of the components of religion in terms of sexual selection. (shrink)
Robert N. McCauley's new book Why Religion Is Natural and Science Is Not (2011) presents a new paradigm for investigating the relationship between science and religion by exploring the cognitive foundations of religious belief and scientific knowledge. McCauley's contention is that many of the differences and disagreements regarding religion and science are the product of distinct features of human cognition that process these two domains of knowledge very differently. McCauley's thesis provides valuable insights into this relationship while not necessarily leading (...) to a dismissive view of theology or religious belief. His paradigm allows the research lens to focus on cognitive differences in processing scientific versus religious information and the important role of automatic, unconscious, and intuitive cognitive processes in understanding both the natural and supernatural worlds. (shrink)
This volume explores the role of both “mere habits” and sophisticated habitus in the formation of moral character and the virtues, incorporating perspectives from philosophy, theology, psychology, and neuroscience.
One of the central tenets of Christian theology is the denial of self for the benefit of another. However, many views on the evolution of altruism presume that natural selection inevitably leads to a self-seeking human nature and that altruism is merely a façade to cover underlying selfish motives. I argue that human altruism is an emergent characteristic that cannot be reduced to any one particular evolutionary explanation. The evolutionary processes at work in the formation of human nature are not (...) necessarily in conflict with the possibility of altruism; rather, aspects of human nature are uniquely directed toward the care and concern of others. The relationship between altruism, human nature, and evolution can be reimagined by adopting an emergent view of the hierarchy of science and a theological worldview that emphasizes self-renunciation. The investigation of altruism necessitates an approach that analyzes several aspects of altruistic behavior at different levels in the hierarchy of sciences. This research includes the study of evolutionary adaptations, neurological systems, cognitive functions, behavioral traits, and cultural influences. No one level is able to offer a full explanation, but each piece adds a unique dimension to a much larger puzzle. (shrink)