Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: A synthesis of the memetic, cognitive, and group selectionist approaches to religion
Author: Atkinson , Andrew Ross
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2016
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
In brief, this work attempts to bridge a gap between theories which see religions as virulent memes or 'rogue cultural variants', the Cognitive Science of Religion, and the group-selectionists. As such, this is a synthesis of those fields with regard to their focus on religion. I begin by setting up a theory of Memetics - and, come to regard it as an incomplete evolutionary theory of [religious] culture, though valuable as a theory of transmission from which a phylogeny of religions might be drawn. A challenge to Memetics I credit to David Hull (in Aunger, 2000, pp51-52) is that a fuller understanding is needed of the mechanisms for cultural transmission. An account is needed for why human minds are particularly good at both picking up, and generating key religious concepts. Answers to this come from Cognitive Science or 'brain based' sciences which describe the neurological and cognitive con-elates of religious experience. The Cognitive Science of Religion sees religiosity as a by-product - an accident. I then proceed, drawing the reader into multi-level selection questions, by presenting D.S.Wilson's group-selectionist account of religion. His argument is that it is an evolutionary adaption. Respectively, either viral, accidental by-product, or adaptationist explanations of religion, there appears to be a conflict of interest. My aim is to bring together these theories and show that they overlap in important ways. I alter the group selectionist account to agree with most of its evidence, but not that belief in God has been selected for - rather that it's just incidental - and, I integrate viral transmission dynamics as a key ingredient of religion 's success. My original contributions to knowledge are as follows: to have merged three competing explanations of religion, and to have isolated which of those approaches explains the generation of God concepts insofar as such a concept has concomitant effects on behaviour - locating them within the proximate/ultimate distinction in philosophy of biology.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available