In a new study co-written by New Zealand researchers, the evolution of human culture was traced and it was found that ecological factors play a role in shaping societies, including the development of religious beliefs.
According to the researchers, Believing in gods is more likely a product of harsh conditions as people living in hardship tend to “moralise” them.
Researchers used data from between 1900 and 1960, covering 583 religions and traditional societies. Most common religions like Christianity and Islam and the other localised belief systems were studied.
According to Professor Russell Gray from the University of Auckland’s School of Psychology, who is also among the authors of the study;
people believe in the high gods when their lives became uncertain or difficult. They can thrive in unpredictable environments if they engage in pro-social behaviour.
Earlier studies indicated that religion was a product of either cultural or environmental factors. The new findings suggest that complex practices of humans were influenced by various historical, cultural and ecological variables.
Gray said several evolutionists have been “busy trying to bang religion on the head.” However, he believes the challenge is to find an explanation for it. He added that the near universal presence of religion indicates some adaptive value.
The study also talk about religious belief in gods who implement a moral code and other characteristics of society.
Emphasizing on how environmental changes, commerce, conquest and language played a part in the development of religious beliefs.
Dr Carlos Botero, lead author of the study and a biologist at North Carolina State University, said the harsher the conditions, the more people believe in the existence of gods. They backed it up saying; There were previous research of natural calamities leading to conversion of religious beliefs, though, it was not clear how ecology helped shaped religion around the world.
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