- The Oxford Handbook of Evolution, Biology, and Society
- About the Editor
- About the Contributors
- Introduction: Evolution, Biology, and Society
- Divergence and Possible Consilience Between Evolutionary Biology and Sociology
- Sociology’s Contentious Courtship with Biology: A Ballad
- Edward Westermarck: The First Sociobiologist
- Discovering Human Nature Through Cross-Species Analysis
- The Neurology of Religion: An Explanation from Evolutionary Sociology
- Reward Allowances and Contrast Effects in Social Evolution: A Challenge to Zygmunt Bauman’s Liquid Modernity
- Sex Differences in the Human Brain
- The Savanna Theory of Happiness
- How Evolutionary Psychology Can Contribute to Group Process Research
- The Genetics of Human Behavior: A Hopeless Opus?
- DNA Is Not Destiny
- On the Genetic and Genomic Basis of Aggression, Violence, and Antisocial Behavior
- Genetics and Politics: A Review for the Social Scientist
- Genes and Status Achievement
- Peer Networks, Psychobiology of Stress Response, and Adolescent Development
- Stress and Stress Hormones
- Social Epigenetics of Human Behavior
- Physiology of Face-to-Face Competition
- Evolutionary Behavioral Science: Core Principles, Common Misconceptions, and a Troubling Tendency
- Evolutionary Family Sociology
- Evolution and Human Reproduction
- Evolution, Societal Sexism, and Universal Average Sex Differences in Cognition and Behavior
- Evolutionary Theory and Criminology
- The Biosocial Study of Ethnicity
- Human Sociosexual Dominance Theory
- From Paganism to World Transcendence: Religious Attachment Theory and the Evolution of the World Religions
- The Evolutionary Approach to History: Sociocultural Phylogenetics
- Why Sociology Should Incorporate Biology
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter draws on one of the new cognitive and evolutionary psychological theories of religion, religious attachment theory, to explain the emergence of the Axial Age religions of the late first millennium bce. These religions—Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism—introduced new kinds of gods into world history—gods that were transcendent and capable of providing release from suffering. Religious attachment theory views religion as providing “substitute attachment figures” under circumstances in which people’s social attachments have been severely disrupted. The basic argument of the chapter is that the new Axial Age gods were responses to heightened levels of anxiety and ontological insecurity that accompanied massive increases in warfare and urbanization in the period between approximately 600 bce and 1 ce. The anthropomorphic pagan gods of the ancient empires had become inadequate in the face of the new religious needs that people began to experience, and thus they came to be replaced.
Stephen K. Sanderson taught for 31 years at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and for 8 years was Visiting Professor at the University of California, Riverside. He specializes in comparative–historical sociology, sociological and anthropological theory, and evolution and human behavior. He is the author or editor of 14 books in 21 editions, and he has published several dozen articles in professional journals, edited collections, and handbooks. His most recent books are Rethinking Sociological Theory: Introducing and ↵Explaining a Scientific Theoretical Sociology (Paradigm, 2012) and Human Nature and the Evolution of Society (Westview, 2014).
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