Journal Article

Was Religion a Kinship Surrogate?

Ferren MacIntyre

in Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Published on behalf of American Academy of Religion

Volume 72, issue 3, pages 653-694
Published in print September 2004 | ISSN: 0002-7189
Published online September 2004 | e-ISSN: 1477-4585 | DOI:
Was Religion a Kinship Surrogate?

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The origin of reciprocal altruism remains puzzling. Kin selection fails because genes dilute quickly, and history does not support the differential success of more altruistic religions. Some features of religion can be related to kinship and were available to ancestral primates in whom any behavior that enlarged the apparent family by “pseudokinship” would spread. The evolutionary “function” of religion may be that (like racism) it is a form of pseudokinship that tricks the brain into thinking, “He looks like me, so we must be related,” and “She believes what I do, so she must be family,” with benefits to genes that permit this trickery. This may explain the universality of religious belief (and racism) and its survival independent of content and why belief must not be testable (an accessible belief is valueless for group definition). In a multiracial, multicredal world, racism and religion no longer usefully enlarge the community.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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