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Where Does Religion Come From?
Interesting Q&A with the author of Religion in Human Evolution

Starting with the Big Bang, and reviewing tribal religion, "archaic" religion, and finally the crucial "Axial Age" of classical Greece, ancient Israel, Vedic India, and Confucian China, Bellah—a religious man himself, but by no means beholden to modern belief's sacred cows—advances a whole host of dinner-discussion-worthy arguments. To name a few: Religion may emerge out of the mammalian "play" instinct, "sheltered ... from selectionist pressures"; ritual has functioned as crucial social glue, enabling the expanded social groups integral to humanity's rise; God, on the other hand, is far from necessary, where human religion is concerned.

Read it at The Atlantic
Kind of interesting that just this weekend I read about the excavation of some "temples" in Turkey. These "temples" predate widespread agriculture which has been for years the presumed starting point of religion and social organization. Stable communities with significant populations led to the formation of religion as a control mechanism. I did use the term temples in quotes because there is no direct evidence that they were built for a religious purpose. They simply are large and had symbols carved on limestone pillars. It is probably a good assumption that they had some sort of religious or social application.

These large structures date from around 9000 BCE, well before most anthropologists, to date, have thought that social organization could allow this level of cooperation and resource allocation. Several people quoted in the article made the case that it was social organization around a religion that led to agriculture not the other way around.

The article was in a fairly recent national geographic. I tried to find it on their website but could not.

Search for Gobekli Tepe. There is quite a bit of information
Edited by JohnH on 08/17/2011 18:24
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