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date: 03 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The relationship between religion and morality is a subject of widespread interest and intense debate: Is morality a product of religion? Can one be moral without religion? Can moral claims be justified outside of a religious context? These are important questions that have been subject to much investigation by theologians and philosophers, among others. Evolutionary studies provide a different way into this topic. Morality has long been a subject for evolutionary research, but an evolutionary approach to religion, based on research into the evolution of the brain, is a recent development, and one that is developing a substantial empirical grounding. Drawing on the insights from both of these fields, this chapter sets out the evolved cognitive mechanisms that constitute the nexus of religion and morality. In addition to providing insight into the nature of religious morality, this model may also help clarify the role religion played in human evolution.

Keywords: religion, morality, evolutionary psychology, evolution, cognition

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