- 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
The human propensity for religious behavior and, eventually, religious organization is the by-product of natural selection working on the neuroanatomy of low-sociality and non-group-forming hominins to become more social and group oriented as a necessary strategy for survival on the African savanna. Using cladistic analysis to determine the behavioral and organizational propensities of the last common ancestor to present-day great apes and humans’ hominin ancestors, while at the same time engaging in comparative neuroanatomy of extant great-ape and human brains, the neurological basis of religion is isolated. Religion emerged under early selection pressures to make hominins more social and able to form stable groups. From the combination of dramatically increased emotionality and cognitive functioning, the transition from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens approximately 300,000 year ago created the neurological platform for religious behaviors among early humans.
Alexandra Maryanski is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Riverside. She has authored or co-authored six books as well as coedited a large Handbook on Evolution and Society (Paradigm, 2015), in addition to authoring dozens of research articles. Her primary scholarly interests revolve around bringing data on primates, biological methods and models, network analysis, and neurology to the social sciences. She was one of the founders of contemporary evolutionary sociology as well as an early proponent of neurosociology. Her latest book, Emile Durkheim and the Birth of ↵the Gods (Routledge, forthcoming) brings the accumulated data on primates, methods from biology and network analysis, comparative neurology, and evolutionary theory to an assessment of Emile Durkheim’s theory on the origin and operation of religion in societies, as outlined in Durkheim’s essays after 1895 and in his monumental book in 1912, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life.
Jonathan H. Turner is Research Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and University Professor of the University of California system, as well as Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Emeritus, University of California, Riverside. He is primarily a general sociological theorist but has interests in many substantive areas of inquiry, including evolutionary sociology, neurosociology, and religion. He is the author of 41 books and more than 200 articles in theory and additional substantive areas, such as the sociology of emotions, stratification, ethnicity, and interpersonal behavior.
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