Religion as the Process Driving Social Evolution


Author: Baskin, Ken
Journal: Social Evolution & History. Volume 19, Number 1 / March 2020

DOI: https://doi.org/10.30884/seh/2020.01.03

For the purposes of this essay, we can think of religion as the human response to the realization that our lives, as individuals and in community, are frequently overwhelmed by forces we cannot control. Within this framework, myth becomes the stories about how to know and participate in those forces, and ritual becomes the way communities grapple with such forces and maintain the coherence they need to survive. Looking back through the history of the evolution of life, one can see how myth and ritual emerged as survival mechanisms that reflect human evolution over the last five million years. One can also see how, as the union of myth and ritual, religion would enable human groups to adapt to increasing social complexity, as communities grew from bands of 20 to cities of 20 million.

Ken Baskin, Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence more