Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://hdl.handle.net/10356/48829
Title: Adaptation or byproduct? an evolutionary debate on religion.
Authors: Tay, Timothy En Yi.
Keywords: DRNTU::Social sciences::Psychology
DRNTU::Humanities::Religions
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: The past 20 years has seen an increase in interest in the evolutionary approach to the study of religion. Four viewpoints have emerged, with the debate between religion as an evolved adaptation and religion as a byproduct of other evolved processes forming the core of this debate. Byproduct theorists argue from the evidence of non-religious cognitive modules that religion co-opted for its purposes, the Compensation Hypothesis theory that states that religion is only but a substitutionary compensation for a lack of parental attachment, and the independence and separate development of moral intuitions that prove that religion is a byproduct. Adaptationists contend with the arguments of costly signaling in rituals that honestly signal commitment, supernatural beliefs that effectively police social contracts, research in cognitive neuroscience that suggest cognitive architecture of the religious system, and religious attitudes that emphasize reproductive success and fertility as evidences that religion is an evolved adaptation. A new and emerging approach – religion as a flying buttress – considers religion as a cultural trait that may be modified by humans in its cultural environment, such that even a byproduct may have a functional role in providing humans with adaptive advantages. More research is needed before a definitive conclusion can be made, although the third perspective, inspired by niche construction theory, holds promise in guiding future research. Implications of the adaptationist-byproduct debate in today’s society, as well as the relation of this debate to the larger science-religion debate, are discussed.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10356/48829
Rights: Nanyang Technological University
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:HSS Student Reports (FYP/IA/PA/PI)

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