Evolutionary theorists have explained universals in religion, but no integrative theory exists to explain why multiple aspects of religion vary within and between individuals and groups. We propose how four dimensions of religions – beliefs about nonhuman agents, religious rituals, community structures, and moral concerns and values – may change in response to the fundamental social goals of self-protection, disease avoidance, coalition formation, status seeking, mating and mate retention, and kin care. We review empirical research and provide testable hypotheses, and finally discuss implications of this theoretical framework for the study of evolution and religion.
- Nonhuman agents
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Religious studies