Explaining the rise of moralizing religions: a test of competing hypotheses using the Seshat Databank

Religion, Brain & Behavior Vol/Iss. 13(2) Taylor & Francis Group Published In Pages: 167-194
By Turchin, Peter, Whitehouse, Harvey, Larson, Jennifer, Cioni, Enrico, Reddish, Jenny, Hoyer, Daniel, Savage, Patrick E., Covey, Alan, Baines, John, Altaweel, Mark, Anderson, Eugene, Bol, Peter, Brandl, Eva, Carballo, David M., Feinman, Gary M., Korotayev, Andrey V., Kradin, Nikolay, Levine, Jill D., Nugent, Selin E., Squitieri, Andrea, Wallace, Vesna, François, Pieter


The rise of moralizing religions will be related to an increase in large-scale complex societies.


The authors test the Big Gods hypothesis, which suggests that moralizing religions predict large-scale complex societies. The results show no support for direct causation between moralizing religion and social complexity.


Test NameSupportSignificanceCoefficientTail
Dynamic regression analysesNot supportedp < .01UNKNOWNUNKNOWN