Why religion is nothing special but is central

M.E.F. Bloch

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


It is proposed that explaining religion in evolutionary terms is a misleading enterprise because religion is an indissoluble part of a unique aspect of human social organization. Theoretical and empirical research should focus on what differentiates human sociality from that of other primates, i.e. the fact that members of society often act towards each other in terms of essentialized roles and groups. These have a phenomenological existence that is not based on everyday empirical monitoring but on imagined statuses and communities, such as clans or nations. The neurological basis for this type of social, which includes religion, will therefore depend on the development of imagination. It is suggested that such a development of imagination occurred at about the time of the Upper Palaeolithic 'revolution'. © 2008 The Royal Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2055-2061
Number of pages7
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Biological Sciences
Issue number1499
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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