Over the past decade a strident public debate has arisen about the nature and origin of religions. Controversies include how exactly religion evolved, whether by individual or group selection, if it is adaptive, and if not, whether and how it is a side effect of evolution. This volume focuses on the issue of naturalizing religion: on the ways in which cognitive science and social sciences have treated religion as a natural phenomenon. It questions whether religious behaviour, institutions, and experiences can be explained in natural terms.Â The editor brings together some of the best published work on the definition of 'religion', intelligent design and the evolution of religion.
Contents: Introduction; Part I Adaptation: The cognitive and evolutionary psychology of religion, Joseph Bulbulia; A scientific definition of religion, James W. Dow; Are there any religions? An evolutionary exploration, Joseph Bulbulia; Why religion is nothing special but is central, Maurice Bloch. Part II Naturalization of Religion: The evolution of religion: 3 anthropological approaches, James W. Dow; Religion generalized and naturalized, Loyal Rue; Testing major evolutionary hypotheses about religion with a random sample, David Sloan Wilson; Exploring resources of naturalism: religiopoiesis, Ursula Goodenough; Myths as instructions from ancestors: the example of Oedipus, Lyle B Steadman and Craig T. Palmer. Part III Cognitive Science and Religion: A cognitive typology of religious actions, Justin L. Barrett and Brian Malley; Explaining religious ideas: elements of a cognitive approach, Pascal Boyer; Are children 'intuitive theists'? Reasoning about purpose and design in nature, Deborah Kelemen; Whence collective rituals? A cultural selection model of ritualized behavior, Pierre Liénard and Pascal Boyer; God, genes, and cognizing agents, Gregory R. Peterson; 'O Lord…you perceive my thoughts from afar': recursiveness and the evolution of supernatural agency, Jesse M. Bering and Dominic D.P. Johnson. Part IV Sociocultural Accounts: God is watching you: priming God concepts increases prosocial behavior in an anonymous economic game, Azim F. Shariff and Ara Norenzayan; The capacity for religious experience is an evolutionary adaptation to warfare, Allen D. MacNeill; Ritual, emotion, and sacred symbols, Candace S. Alcorta and Richard Sosis. Part V Intelligent Design: Intelligent design: the original version, Francisco J. Ayala; Intelligent design and probability reasoning, Elliott Sober; The intelligent-design movement: science or ideology? Gregory R. Peterson; The advantages of theft over toil: the design inference and arguing from ignorance, John S. Wilkins and Wesley R. Elsberry. Part VI Outcomes and Implications: Evolution and the meaning of life, William Grey; The possibility of meaning in human evolution, Barbara Forrest; Is the spell really broken? Bio-psychological explanations of religion and theistic belief, Justin L. Barrett; How firm a foundation? A response to Justin L Barrett's 'Is the spell really broken?', Howard J. Van Till; Name index.