Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict by Ara Norenzayan

By Ara Norenzayan

How did human societies scale up from tight-knit teams of hunter-gatherers to the massive, nameless, cooperative societies of today--even even though anonymity is the enemy of cooperation? How did geared up religions with "Big Gods"--the nice monotheistic and polytheistic faiths--spread to colonize such a lot minds on the planet? In Big Gods, Ara Norenzayan makes the magnificent argument that those basic puzzles concerning the origins of civilization resolution every one other.

Sincere religion in watchful enormous Gods unleashed unheard of cooperation inside ever-expanding teams, but whilst it brought a brand new resource of power clash among competing teams. And in a few elements of the area, societies with atheist majorities--some of the main cooperative and wealthy within the world--have climbed religion's ladder, after which kicked it away.

Big Gods" solutions basic questions on the origins and unfold of global religions and is helping us comprehend the increase of cooperative societies with out trust in gods.

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They found that when religious participants were given the opportunity to punish others who were playing selfishly, religious reminders increased the willingness to punish these freeriders while incurring a Pressure from Above monetary cost. This finding is important: it implies that members of prosocial religions are willing to pay a cost to punish noncooperators. 6 The Sunday Effect These experiments are important because they allow us to carefully isolate the variables of interest and measure their effects, holding other factors constant.

When the appeals were not to charitability, but to competitiveness—­“ The competition is heating up! If you hope to win, you will have to bid again. ”—­the Sunday Effect disappeared. What about avoiding sin? One study by Benjamin Edelman compared Internet porn consumption rates in highly religious and not-­so-­religious 37 38 Chapter 3 US states. One might expect that, availing oneself of adult entertainment—­of all things—­would clearly distinguish religious and nonreligious folks. It may come as a surprise that, once a number of demographic factors were statistically controlled, religious and nonreligious states did not differ.

Ghosts or gods), counterintuitive biology (many gods who neither grow or die), or counterintuitive psychological properties (unblocked perception or prescience). Animals too can have these properties. Tools and other artifacts can be represented as having biological properties (some statues bleed) or psychological ones (they hear what you say). 41 Second, some variants of beliefs travel well not only because of their potent content but also because of the features of the cultural models who happen to endorse the beliefs.

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