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date: 25 March 2019

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.

Keywords: religion, neurology, subcortex, neocortex, emotions, hominins, primates

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