The Evolution of Religion, Religiosity and Theology: A Multi-Level and Multi-Disciplinary Approach, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Evolution of Religion, Religiosity and Theology

A Multi-Level and Multi-Disciplinary Approach, 1st Edition

Edited by Jay R. Feierman, Lluis Oviedo


296 pages

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Hardback: 9780367250263
pub: 2019-09-30
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This book takes a multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary approach to religion, religiosity and theology from their earliest beginnings to the present day. It uniquely brings together the natural sciences and theology to explore how religious practice emerged and developed through the four sections into which the book is organized: Evolutionary biology; Philosophical linguistics, psychology and neuroscience; Theology and Anthropology.

The volume features an international panel of contributors who develop an innovative picture of religion as a culturally-created social institution; religiosity as a more personal and subjective anthropological element of people expressed through religion; and theology as the study of god. To survive in changing times, living systems — a good characterization of religion, religiosity and theology — all must adaptively evolve.

This is a vital study of a rapidly burgeoning field. As such, it will be of great interest to scholars in religious studies and theology as well as in the psychological, sociological, and anthropological study of religion.

Table of Contents


List of contributors

Introduction: A Multi-Level and Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Understanding Religion and Its Evolution

Lluis Oviedo



1 Cultural Evolution, Biology, and the Case of Religion

Hansgörg Hemming

2 The Evolutionary Biology of Religion Specific Beliefs and Inter-Religious Conflict

Jay R. Feierman

3 Sex and the Evolution of Spirituality

Daniel Cohen

4 The Biological Basis for Religion and Religion's Evolutionary Origins

Donald Broom



5 A History of the Evolution of Religion: From Religion to Religiosity to the Processes of Believing

Hans-Ferdinand Angel

6 The Processes of Believing in Religion’s Evolution: A Cognitive Neuroscience Hypothesis

Rüdiger J. Seitz

7 Near-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences in Sensing the Divine: One Foundational Role in Religion’s Evolution

Michael N. Marsh

8 Awe as a Meaning-Making Emotion: On the Evolution of Awe and the Origin of Religions

Elliott Ihm, Jonathan Schooler, Michael van Elk and Ray Paloutzian

9 Whence this Need for Salvation? Childhood Corporal Punishment and the Cultural Evolution of Religious Myth

Benjamin Abelow


10 What a Theological Appropriation of Cognitive Linguistics’ Blending Theory Brings to a Scientific Understanding of the Evolution of Religion

Robert Masson

11 The Evolution of Religiosity: A Theologian’s View

Christopher C. Knight

12 Neoteny and Homo religiosus: Brain Evolution and the Emergence of the Capacity for Spirituality

William Ulwelling

13 Emotions and the Evolution of the Belief in God

Christian Early


14 The Evolution of Hunter-Gather Religion: Issues and Debates among the San Bushmen of Southern Africa

Robert Hitchcock

15 Bones, Pigments, Art and Symbols: Archaeological Evidence for the Origins of Religion

Anne Solomon

Chapter 16 Every Kingdom Divided Against Itself: Moral Laws and the Persecution of

Christians in the Evolution of Christianity

Laura Betzig


Jay R. Feierman and Lluis Oviedo

About the Editors

Jay R. Feierman retired as Clinical Professor of psychiatry at University of New Mexico in 2006. He has degrees in zoology and medicine with post-doc specialization and Board Certification in psychiatry. Almost all of his academic publications in both psychiatry and religion have been from the perspective of human ethology, the evolutionary biology of behavior. He has organized a number of international conferences on the evolutionary and biological aspects of religion. He also edited The Biology of Religious Behavior: The Evolutionary Origins of Faith and Religion (2009) and has a number of articles and book chapters in this area.

Lluis Oviedo is full professor of Theological Anthropology (Antonianum University, Rome); and invited professor in the Theological Institute of Murcia (Spain) for questions of religion, society and culture. Has published the books: Secularization as a Problem; Altruism and Charity; The Christian Faith and the New Social Challenges; and is Co-Editor with A. Runehov of the Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions. His research focuses on new scientific study of religion and its theological impact, and issues about secularization and religious social dynamics.

About the Series

Routledge New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology and Biblical Studies

The Routledge New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology and Biblical Studies series brings high quality research monograph publishing back into focus for authors, international libraries, and student, academic and research readers. This open-ended monograph series presents cutting-edge research from both established and new authors in the field. With specialist focus yet clear contextual presentation of contemporary research, books in the series take research into important new directions and open the field to new critical debate within the discipline, in areas of related study, and in key areas for contemporary society.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / General
RELIGION / Christian Theology / Anthropology
RELIGION / Theology
RELIGION / Religion & Science
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Evolution
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General