scilogs Biology of Religion

Discovering The Evolutionary View(s) on Religion

from Michael Blume, 12. February 2012, 01:58

Today is Evolution Day - the 203rd birthday of Charles Darwin. And a growing number of christian, jewish, muslim aand other communities is joining the Evolution-Day-celebrations, insisting that both religious traditions and scientific discoveries should be greeted as gifts from above. Or as protestant pastor Michael Dowd and evolutionary biologist Connie Barlow put it: Thank God for Evolution! This position is called evolutionary theism.

Others disagree, claiming that evolutionary studies are presenting a distinct worldview incommensurable with their religious teachings. Rejecting evolutionary theory for the sake of their written creation myths, these people are called creationists. As surveys among various denominations are showing, members of some religious traditions are more ready to embrace evolutionary studies than others.


Evolutionary Studies of Religion

But there is still another perspective on the subject of Evolution and Religion: The scientific studies on the evolution of religious beliefs and behaviors themselves. Where did they come from? How are they influencing human lives and cultures? Are our genes and brains hard-wired for religious and spiritual experiences?

And this evolutionary perspective on religion is not particularly new, but has been present from the start: Charles Darwin himself (a learned, anglican theologian, after all!) devoted many sentences of his "Descent of Man" to this topic. And during the last years, many scientists from diverse faculties, nations and worldviews joined the interdisciplinary field of evolutionary religious studies, which is bringing forth new discoveries and dynamics almost on a weekly basis.

There is Grandeur in This View of Life... you are invited to participate in discovering and sharing new aspects of the all-encompassing tale of evolution. I want to do my small part in spreading knowledge about it. Just join me on the relaunch of "Evolution - This View of Life", where I am editing the religion section.

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