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date: 10 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Religion has no evolutionary functions per se. Rather, existential anxieties and moral sentiments constitute – by virtue of evolution – ineluctable elements of the human condition; and the cognitive invention, cultural selection, and historical survival of religious beliefs in the supernatural owe much to its success in accommodating these elements. Other factors in the persistence of religion as mankind's provisional evolutionary destiny involve naturally selected elements of human cognition. These include the inherent susceptibility of religious beliefs to modularized conceptual processing systems, such as folk psychology, which favour the survival and recurrence of the supernatural within and across minds and societies.

Keywords: religion, evolutionary function, cognitive invention, cultural selection, folk psychology

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