UCL Discovery
UCL home » Library Services » Electronic resources » UCL Discovery

Explaining the Rise of Moralizing Religions: A test of competing hypotheses using the Seshat Databank

Turchin, P; Whitehouse, H; Larson, J; Cioni, E; Reddish, J; Hoyer, D; Savage, P; ... Francois, P; + view all (2022) Explaining the Rise of Moralizing Religions: A test of competing hypotheses using the Seshat Databank. Religion, Brain and Behavior 10.1080/2153599X.2022.2065345. (In press).

[thumbnail of Altaweel_RRBB-2021-0019.R1_Proof_hi.pdf] Text
Altaweel_RRBB-2021-0019.R1_Proof_hi.pdf
Access restricted to UCL open access staff until 1 July 2023.

Download (1MB)

Abstract

The causes, consequences, and timing of the rise of moralizing religions in world history have been the focus of intense debate. Progress has been limited by the availability of quantitative data to test competing theories, by divergent ideas regarding both predictor and outcomes variables, and by differences of opinion over methodology. To address all these problems, we utilize Seshat: Global History Databank, a large storehouse of information designed to test theories concerning the evolutionary drivers of social complexity. In addition to the Big Gods hypothesis, which proposes that moralizing religion contributed to the success of increasingly large-scale complex societies, we consider the role of warfare, animal husbandry, and agricultural productivity in the rise of moralizing religions. Using a broad range of new measures of belief in moralizing supernatural punishment, we find strong support for previous research showing that such beliefs did not drive the rise of social complexity. By contrast, our analyses indicate that intergroup warfare, supported by resource availability, played a major role in the evolution of both social complexity and moralizing religions. Thus, the correlation between social complexity and moralizing religion seems to result from shared evolutionary drivers, rather than from direct causal relationships between these two variables.

Type: Article
Title: Explaining the Rise of Moralizing Religions: A test of competing hypotheses using the Seshat Databank
DOI: 10.1080/2153599X.2022.2065345
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/2153599X.2022.2065345
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: Big Gods. moralizing supernatural punishment, evolution of social complexity, evolution of religion
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10136525
Downloads since deposit
3Downloads
Download activity - last month
Download activity - last 12 months
Downloads by country - last 12 months

Archive Staff Only

View Item View Item