Harvey Whitehouse and Brian McQuinn
This chapter investigates one of the most powerful mechanisms by which groups may be formed, inspired, and coordinated—ritual—which may be defined as normative behavior with an irretrievably opaque causal structure. The divergent modes of religiosity (DMR) theory is applied to armed groups engaged in civil conflicts, some of which explicitly incorporate “religious” traditions while others vehemently repudiate supernatural beliefs of any kind. It is argued that the DMR theory can be extended to explain recurrent features of ritual traditions which lack many or all beliefs typically marked “religious.” Unlike many religions, rebel groups tend to display the predictions of only one mode, although this may be an effect of small sample size. It is believed that the DMR theory can possibly clarify broad patterns in intergroup violence and the dynamics of contemporary civil wars.
Candace S. Alcorta and Richard Sosis
This chapter, which discusses the association between religion and violence, also addresses why suicide terrorists are willing to offer their lives for their life-affirming religions. Religious violence and “sacred pain” have long been significant components in the mythology and ritual of Western religious traditions. Religious rituals differ widely across cultures. Music intensifies the ritual experience itself, transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary and laying the foundation for creation of the sacred. Religious ritual is an efficient tool for altering group cooperation and cohesion. The evolution of religion is closely linked with the emergence of large social groups in early human populations. It can be stated that understanding both the proximate and evolutionary mechanisms which link religion and violence is an important first step in understanding, and hopefully eradicating, the religious violence that has become so prevalent in the modern world.