Archive | 2019

Moralizing Gods and the Rise of Civilization



Gods and their moralizing values, especially the powers regarding punishment, are related with how civilizations rose and developed into large societies. The emergence of human civilization is related to the power of large-scale cooperation. Although cooperative behavior is seen in most mammals, large-scale cooperation extends beyond genetically related relatives. This type of cooperation, sometimes called ultrasociality, can be seen even in anonymous and one-time interactions but, without the reputational concern of any kind of large-scale cooperation, cannot be explained by standard evolutionary mechanisms. One of the hypotheses to solve this problem is the supernatural punishment hypothesis (Johnson and Krüger 2004). According to this hypothesis, the human surveillance mechanism does not observe and monitor every situation. However, the possibility of punishment by a supernatural agent eliminates the limitations of punishment for a person who violates moral rules. In other words, the mechanism of fear of supernatural punishment as an evolutionarily stable strategy explains why religions, and especially of religions with a moralizing high gods, spread (Johnson 2016). It is therefore thought that religious belief and especially the belief in fear of supernatural punishment is an evolutionary adaptation to eliminate the problem of cooperation between large groups (Johnson and Krüger 2004; Johnson 2016). In this perspective, the existence of punishment by an omniscient and omnipotent supernatural agent eliminates the possibility of being not able to observe a moral violator among the communities of human beings with certainty in punishing a person who will make a moral violation. It is thought that the emergence of the idea of supernatural punishment is what underlies the ultrasociality commonly seen in human societies (Purzycki et al. 2016; see also Norenzayan 2013). In other words, it is thought that there is a relationship between the emergence of moralizing religions and cooperation. For example, the emergence of big moral religions is believed to force people to move together around the temple and thus lead to the agricultural revolution (Norenzayan 2013). The fact that the temples in

Volume None
Pages None
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3287-1
Language English
Journal None

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