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  1. RETRACTED: Complex societies precede moralizing gods throughout world historyWhitehouse, Harvey - Nature, 2019 - 3 Hypotheses

    Researchers tackle the moral gods hypothesis which proposes that moral gods enabled large-scale societies to evolve. They use 414 societies spanning 10,000 years in Seshat: Global History Databank and code 51 measures of social complexity and four measures of moral gods. The findings of the present study challenge the moral gods hypothesis. In the societies studied, complex societies appear to precede moral gods rather than the inverse of moral gods preceding complex societies.

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  2. Testing the Big Gods hypothesis with global historical data: a review and“retake”Whitehouse, Harvey - Religion, Brain & Behavior, 2023 - 2 Hypotheses

    This study challenges the Big Gods hypothesis, which suggests that moral gods are a critical factor that preceded the evolution of complex societies. Using the Seshat database, the authors expanded the codebook and database of their retracted article (see notes). The results show significant support that sociopolitical complexity and moralizing gods are associated and that sociopolitical complexity appears to precede the presence of Big Gods. The authors also show some support that sociopolitical complexity might be a driving factor of moralizing gods. Still, they state that the results are incomplete since they only focus on the possibility of reciprocal causality.

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  3. Quantitative historical analysis uncovers a single dimension of complexity that structures global variation in human social organizationTurchin, Peter - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2017 - 1 Hypotheses

    Using the compiled database "Seshat: Global History Databank," researchers sampled 30 societies from 10 distinct regions of the world, testing 51 variables that were condensed into 9 "complex characteristic" variables. Researchers tested for correlates in how societies evolve structurally. Utilizing principal component analysis it was demonstrated that the complex characteristic variables were strongly associated, leading to theorization of structural and social evolution predictability.

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  4. Moralistic supernatural punishment is probably not associated with social complexityLightner, Aaron D. - Evolution and Human Behavior, 2022 - 2 Hypotheses

    This paper examines the relationship between moralizing gods (gods that impose moral rules or punish those who break them) and social complexity. The authors argue that previous research, which relied on the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample's "moralizing high gods" variable as a proxy measure for the presence of moralizing gods, may have underestimated the presence of moralizing gods in societies. This is because the criteria used to define "moralizing high gods" are not relevant to whether a god is moralistic or punitive. The authors argue that this leads to a false positive association between moralizing gods and social complexity, and that ethnographic evidence suggests that moralizing gods are actually more prevalent in small-scale societies than had previously been thought. Future researchers, therefore, need to be careful about making assumptions about the moralizing gods of small scale societies based on "moralizing high gods", and find other ways to identify whether moralizing gods are present.

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  5. Gods, rituals, and the moral orderStark, Rodney - Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 2001 - 2 Hypotheses

    Stark attempts to resituate Tylor's formulation of religion by calling into question Swanson's (1960) and Peregrine's (1996) findings that supernatural sanctions and moral behavior are consistently correlated in small-scale societies. Positing that Swanson's correlations were confounded by variables related to cultural complexity, Stark tests the association of presence of moralizing Gods with cultural complexity explicitly, as well as measures of morality in various nations as provided by the World Values Survey (1990-1991). The robust correlations across cultures noted below, as well as cross-national findings, provide support for the researcher's theory that it is particular conceptions of God rather than participation in rites and rituals which empower religion to sustain complex moral culture.

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  6. Subsistence and the evolution of religionPeoples, Hervey C. - Human Nature, 2012 - 3 Hypotheses

    This study exmaines the presence of High Gods in societies as a function of subsistence type, population size, and stratification. High Gods are thought to be a mechanism to encourage collective action in the face of environmental challenges. Animal husbandry was found to be a strong predictor of High Gods, especially gods that are active in human affairs or morally supportive.

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  7. The state and the supernatural: support for prosocial behaviorBrown, Christian - Structure and Dynamics, 2010 - 1 Hypotheses

    This article identifies several methodological errors in the original study or moralizing gods by Roes and Raymond (2003) and presents new multiple regression model. Results suggest that a belief in moralizing gods is spread though cultural transmission, but it is also associated with conditions such as lower agricultural potential and lower external warfare. The authors theorize that moralizing gods have functional purposes such as bolstering property rights or maintaining social hierarchy.

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  8. The cultural evolution of prosocial religionsNonrenzayan, Ara - Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 2016 - 0 Hypotheses

    Researchers review the literature on the development and spread of prosocial religions and their relations to cooperative behavior, solidarity, societal size, and cultural evolution. They theorize that prosocial religions have been co-beneficially related to the development of successful large-scale cooperative societies, and the reproduction of cultural values.

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  9. The birth of the gods revisited: a partial replication of guy swanson's (1960) cross-cultural study of religionPeregrine, Peter N. - Cross-Cultural Research, 1996 - 2 Hypotheses

    This article retests several hypotheses from Swanson’s (1960) study on the origins of religious belief. The author finds support for an association between high gods and large communities, multiple levels of political hierarchy, and social differentiation. No support is found for Swanson’s other hypotheses concerning polytheism, ancestral spirits, reincarnation, the soul, witchcraft, and morality and their relations to social, political, and economic variables.

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  10. Social resilience to nuclear winter: lessons from the Late Antique Little Ice AgePeregrine, Peter N. - Global Security: Health, Science and Policy, 2021 - 1 Hypotheses

    The author analyzes conditions that might favor social resilience during the Late Antique Little Ice Age (ca. 536-556 CE). The assumption is made that climatic conditions in the Northern Hemisphere during this period of time are very similar to those that would occur during a nuclear winter. These conditions include a drop in temperature and decreased solar radiation from volcanic eruptions. Measures for social resilience come from multiple variables for social change, which are tested against measures for type of political engagement. It is argued that broad political participation is correlated with resilience.

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