The Context of Supernatural Minds
Religion Evolving - Cultural, Cognitive, and Ecological Dynamics - Benjamin Grant Purzycki
Benjamin Grant Purzycki [+]
Richard Sosis [+]
University of Connecticut
Chapter 6 broadens the discussion to examine how religious beliefs and cognition are dynamically bound together with practices and ritual expressions. We wager that concepts worthy of religious devotion are intriguing, emotion-triggering, and framed in such a way that makes them relevant to one’s wellbeing. As such, these concepts are more likely to be transmitted and therefore recognized as shared. It is this sharedness—the perception of commonality—as well as the effects of entertaining supernatural agent concepts in particular, that motivate individuals to participate in costly rituals. These rituals indicate shared mental models and their costs signal devotion to the community. Ritual behaviors that are rationalized with unverifiable transcendent concepts have been shown to sustain cooperative relationships; we therefore argue that such concepts are a necessary component of the adaptive religious system.