The Brain, Home of the Gods

Karlijn Massar
2020 Human Ethology Bulletin  
Most of the major religions in the world teach their followers that god(s) created man. An evolutionary neuroscientific approach to religion however suggests a reversed causal relationship: our brains created the gods. Darwin, in the Descent of Man, already posited that religion and spirituality might be the product of our brain organization, and that man thus created god(s). Indeed, he stated that religious beliefs might only develop after a '[...] considerable advance in the reasoning powers
more » ... e reasoning powers of man, and from a still greater advance in his faculties of imagination, curiosity, and wonder' (1871, p.395). In Evolving Brains, Emerging Gods, E. Fuller Torrey carefully extends this argument, and shows how the emergence of spiritual and religious beliefs coincides with -or rather, follows frombrain evolution and cognitive developments. Rather than providing an answer to why humans have created gods and other deities, Torrey describes how humans were able to do so, over the course of two million years. To support his arguments, he describes converging evidence from archaeology, ontogeny, phylogeny, and (evolutionary) neuroscience, and he does so using terms and language that those not familiar with neuroscience can easily follow. Central to many of the Massar, K. (2020). The Brain, Home of the Gods. Human Ethology, 35, 75-78 https://doi.
doi:10.22330/he/35/075-078 fatcat:hc2vggw6frfyzemwio2wj3drdm