Hunter-gatherers and the origins of religion

Human Nature Vol/Iss. 27(261) Springer US Published In Pages: 1-22
By Peoples, Hervey C., Duda, Pavel, Marlowe, Frank W.


What is the evolutionary sequence of beliefs in hunter-gatherers? The authors attempt to answer this question by reconstructing the development of various traits in traditional societies using phylogenetic and linguistic source trees. Testing for correlated evolution between this reconstruction and population history as proxied by linguistic classification suggests the presence of animism at profound time depth, aligning with classical anthropological religious theory put forth by E.B. Tylor. Coevolutions between other religious concepts including shamanism, ancestor worship, active ancestor worship, high gods, active high gods, and belief in an afterlife are also examined.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
Standard Cross Cultural Sample (SCCS)Murdock & Morrow (1970), White (1989)

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