Evolution and religion: theory, definitions, and the natural selection of religious behavior
Ellsworth, Ryan M.
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Chapter 1 Presents a brief summary of recent theory and research into religion from evolutionary cognitive psychology and behavioral ecology. Chapter 2 addresses the debate over whether religion is an adaptation directly favored by natural selection, or a by-product of other evolved traits. The implications of how religion is defined for how it is explained are also introduced in chapter 2, as well as requirements for building a valid argument for religion as an adaptation. In chapter 3, shifts focus from explanation to that of definition. Critical discussion of appropriate criteria for an accurate definition of religion is presented, existing definition. Chapter 4 presents the results of two studies formulated to test the definition of religion posited in chapter 3. Finally, chapter 5 lays out an explanation of the evolution of religion as a traditional behavior that was directly favored by natural selection for its effects on the descendant-leaving success of ancestral humans.
2009 Freely available theses (MU)