Ryan McKay, Charles Efferson, Harvey Whitehouse, Ernst Fehr. Wrath of God: religious primes and punishment

Ryan McKay, Charles Efferson, Harvey Whitehouse, Ernst Fehr. Wrath of God: religious primes and punishment


Religion carries formidable epistemic, metabolic and material costs [1–3]. Religious believers must maintain and compartmentalize beliefs that are extravagantly at variance with intuitive conceptions of reality. Religious rituals, moreover, are often physically taxing and painful, and frequently require the sacrifice of precious resources. Given such costs, some evolutionary theorists argue that religion must provide, or in the ancestral past must have provided, countervailing adaptive benefits (e.g. [1–7]; cf. [8,9]). Perhaps the most influential of such proposals is that religion is a cultural variant that confers a selective advantage at the group level by virtue of the fact that it secures and promotes cooperative behaviour within the group [6,7]. This proposal arguably solves not one but two thorny evolutionary puzzles: the puzzle of religion and the puzzle of human cooperation.


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Keywords: Economy of Culture and Religion

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