Russell Gray Did Religion Play a Causal Role in the Evolution of Large, Complex Societies?
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The notion of a powerful god is often said to play a significant role in supporting the transition from small relatively equal hunter and gatherer societies to big hierarchical societies. However, as RUSSELL GRAY explains in this video, while there is a correlation between “big gods” and “big societies”, this is no causal relationship. By comparing the evolution of different forms of social organization in cultures with a common ancestry in the Pacific and Southeast Asia the researchers found that these societies grew bigger first and only then borrowed the notion of a powerful god through the influence of Muslim traders. Another result on the influence of religion is that ritual human sacrifice played a major role in maintaining or even promoting social inequality.
LT Video Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.21036/LTPUB10216
Ritual Human Sacrifice Promoted and Sustained the Evolution of Stratified Societies
- Joseph Watts, Oliver Sheehan, Quentin D. Atkinson, Joseph Bulbulia and Russell D. Gray
- Published in 2016