Departmental Colloquium: Pascal Boyer University of Washington: Religions in the Wild: How General Properties of Human Communication Result in Religious Traditions
Religions in the Wild: How General Properties of Human Communication Result in Religious Traditions
For most of human history and prehistory in most places, religious activity for most people did and still does centre on ways to palliate and prevent misfortune, notably by resorting to specialists, best equipped to deal with spirits and other superhuman agents. This “wild religion” includes no stable doctrine, no interest in good and evil, no priests with formal training, no community of believers and no concept of ‘faith’. I propose that the common features of wild religion stem from our evolved psychology, in particular from our need to gain welfare and fitness by providing high-value information to others, and being seen as providers of such information.