Evolutionary psychologists seek to understand cognitive processes, religion in this case, by understanding the survival and reproductive functions they might serve. Formulation of thoughts in words and the requirement for validation made mutual exchange of ideas and the sifting of generally acceptable from not acceptable ideas possible. Humans also apply a degree of judgment and reason not otherwise seen in the animal kingdom. A socially accepted hypothesis becomes dogmatic backed by social sanction. Since there would be a considerable benefit in trying to cheat the system – taking advantage of group living benefits without taking on any possible costs – the ritual would not be something simple that can be taken lightly.  Philip Lieberman states: “Burial rituals incorporating grave goods may have been invented by the anatomically modern hominids who emigrated from Africa to the Middle East roughly 100,000 years ago”. Soon after, writing was used to record myth. The manufacture of complex tools requires creating a mental image of an object which does not exist naturally before actually making the artifact. The individual human brain has to explain a phenomenon in order to comprehend and relate to it. Cave paintings at Chauvet depict creatures that are half human and half animal. There are no extant textual sources from the Neolithic era, the most recent available dating from the Bronze Age, and therefore all statements about any belief systems Neolithic societies may have possessed are glimpsed from archaeology.  The neocortex size correlates with a number of social variables that include social group size and complexity of mating behaviors. The consequences of the neolithic revolution included a population explosion and an acceleration in the pace of technological development. The use of red ochre as a proxy for symbolism is often criticized as being too indirect. Still another view, proposed by F.H. Gimbutas’ views on this matter do not have widespread support today. Bands and tribes consist of small number of related individuals. , The earliest evidence of religious thought is based on the ritual treatment of the dead.  Some evidence suggests that many species grieve death and loss. Check out this excellent diagram that maps how world religions have changed and developed, from the beginning of history to now…! , There is general agreement among scientists that a propensity to engage in religious behavior evolved early in human history. From this premise science writer Nicholas Wade states: Another view distinguishes individual religious belief from collective religious belief. Art and symbolism demonstrates a capacity for abstract thought and imagination necessary to construct religious ideas. For example, a lack of group cohesion could make individuals more vulnerable to attack from outsiders. […] This literature was highly treasured by many Jewish enthusiasts, in... […] Judea and the Therapeutae in Egypt, were said to have a “secret”... […] (طهارة, ṭaharah) is an essential aspect of Islam. Neanderthals are also contenders for the first hominids to intentionally bury the dead. The emergence of religious behavior by the Neolithic period has been discussed in terms of evolutionary psychology, the origin of language and mythology, cross-cultural comparison of the anthropology of religion, as well as evidence for spirituality or cultic behaviour in the Upper Paleolithic, and similarities in great ape behaviour. All Rights Reserved. There are suggested cases for the first appearance of religious or spiritual experience in the Lower Paleolithic (significantly earlier than 300,000 years ago, pre-Homo sapiens), but these remain controversial and have limited support. Although morality awareness may be a unique human trait, many social animals, such as primates, dolphins and whales, have been known to exhibit pre-moral sentiments. Individuals who were capable of challenging such beliefs, even if the beliefs were enormously improbable, became rarer and rarer in the population. They may have placed corpses into shallow graves along with stone tools and animal bones. Some subjects of interest include Neolithic religion, evidence for spirituality or cultic behavior in the Upper Paleolithic, and similarities in great ape behavior.  There is inconclusive evidence that Homo neanderthalensis may have buried their dead which is evidence of the use of ritual. The Spiritual Life © 2020. The exact time when humans first became religious remains unknown, however research in evolutionary archaeology shows credible evidence of religious-cum-ritualistic behaviour from around the Middle Paleolithic era (45-200 thousand years ago). Humans enforce their society’s moral codes much more rigorously with rewards, punishments and reputation building. As with all other organs and organ functions, the brain‘s functional structure is argued to have a genetic basis, and is therefore subject to the effects of natural selection and evolution. It is likely that early ancestors of humans lived in groups of similar size. , Religious behavior often involves significant costs including economic costs, celibacy, dangerous rituals, or by spending time that could be used otherwise.
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