June and July have seen some momentum personnel changes at the Database of Religious History, happily all of them tied to very auspicious life events. Dr. Brenton Sullivan, our original Managing Editor for two years, has accepted a tenure track faculty position at Colgate (congrats Brenton!). Brenton played a huge role in defining the basic […]
The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter Humans are a puzzling species. On the one hand, we struggle to survive on our own in the wild, often unable to solve basic problems, like obtaining food, building shelters or avoiding predators. On the other hand, […]
The 2015 CERC Plenary: Religion in the Text and on the Ground gathered together an international collection of historians, philosophers, literary scholars, anthropologists, archaeologists, ethnographers, cognitive scientists, and psychologists to engage in targeted and substantive discussions concerning the convergence of historiographic and ethnographic approaches to the study of religion. As the midterm plenary of the […]
Of all humanity’s eccentricities, religion could very well be the most baffling. Even though no one has produced a fleck of evidence for the existence of the gods, people will engage in repetitive, often taxing behaviours, under the impression that some ethereal being out there knows and cares. And regardless of whether or not they […]
All human societies have been shaped by religion, leading psychologists to wonder how it arose, and whether particular forms of belief have affected other aspects of evolved social structure. According to one recent view, for example, belief in a “big God” — an all-powerful, punitive deity who sits in moral judgement on our actions — […]
In October of 2014, the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies hosted an International Research Roundtable entitled “Prosociality in History and Historiography: Can Big Gods tip the Balance in World History?”. We now have the three-part keynote address available on our youtube channel, including segments by HECC directors Joseph Henrich and Edward Slingerland, and a […]
Today’s most popular religions all have one thing in common: a focus on morality. But the gods didn’t always care whether you are a bad person. Researchers have long puzzled over when and why religions moved away from a singular focus on ritual and began to encourage traits such as self-discipline, restraint, and asceticism. Now, […]
Norenzayan, Ara, Azim Shariff, Will Gervais, Aiyana Willard, Rita McNamara, Edward Slingerland, and Joseph Henrich. “The Cultural Evolution of Prosocial Religions,” Target Article: Behavioral and Brain Science, Forthcoming. Commentaries are being solicited.