Complex societies precede moralizing gods throughout world history View Full Text


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Article Info

DATE

2019-04

AUTHORS

Harvey Whitehouse, Pieter François, Patrick E. Savage, Thomas E. Currie, Kevin C. Feeney, Enrico Cioni, Rosalind Purcell, Robert M. Ross, Jennifer Larson, John Baines, Barend ter Haar, Alan Covey, Peter Turchin

ABSTRACT

The origins of religion and of complex societies represent evolutionary puzzles1-8. The 'moralizing gods' hypothesis offers a solution to both puzzles by proposing that belief in morally concerned supernatural agents culturally evolved to facilitate cooperation among strangers in large-scale societies9-13. Although previous research has suggested an association between the presence of moralizing gods and social complexity3,6,7,9-18, the relationship between the two is disputed9-13,19-24, and attempts to establish causality have been hampered by limitations in the availability of detailed global longitudinal data. To overcome these limitations, here we systematically coded records from 414 societies that span the past 10,000 years from 30 regions around the world, using 51 measures of social complexity and 4 measures of supernatural enforcement of morality. Our analyses not only confirm the association between moralizing gods and social complexity, but also reveal that moralizing gods follow-rather than precede-large increases in social complexity. Contrary to previous predictions9,12,16,18, powerful moralizing 'big gods' and prosocial supernatural punishment tend to appear only after the emergence of 'megasocieties' with populations of more than around one million people. Moralizing gods are not a prerequisite for the evolution of social complexity, but they may help to sustain and expand complex multi-ethnic empires after they have become established. By contrast, rituals that facilitate the standardization of religious traditions across large populations25,26 generally precede the appearance of moralizing gods. This suggests that ritual practices were more important than the particular content of religious belief to the initial rise of social complexity. More... »

PAGES

1-4

Identifiers

URI

http://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1038/s41586-019-1043-4

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1043-4

DIMENSIONS

https://app.dimensions.ai/details/publication/pub.1112880134

PUBMED

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30894750


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Download the RDF metadata as:  json-ld nt turtle xml License info

HOW TO GET THIS DATA PROGRAMMATICALLY:

JSON-LD is a popular format for linked data which is fully compatible with JSON.

curl -H 'Accept: application/ld+json' 'https://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1038/s41586-019-1043-4'

N-Triples is a line-based linked data format ideal for batch operations.

curl -H 'Accept: application/n-triples' 'https://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1038/s41586-019-1043-4'

Turtle is a human-readable linked data format.

curl -H 'Accept: text/turtle' 'https://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1038/s41586-019-1043-4'

RDF/XML is a standard XML format for linked data.

curl -H 'Accept: application/rdf+xml' 'https://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1038/s41586-019-1043-4'


 

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310 schema:name Department of Chinese Language and Culture, Asia-Africa-Institute, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
311 rdf:type schema:Organization
 




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