Primates and religion: A biological anthropologist's response to J. Wentzel Van huyssteen's alone in the world?

Zygon 43 (2):451-466 (2008)
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Abstract

For a biological anthropologist interested in the prehistory of religion, J. Wentzel van Huyssteen's book is welcome and resonant. Van Huyssteen's central thesis is that humans' capacity for spirituality emerges from a transformation of cognition and emotions that takes place in the symbolic realm, within Homo sapiens and apart from biology. To his thesis I bring to bear three areas of response: the abundant cognitive and emotional capacities of living apes and extinct hominids; the role of symbolic ritual in the evolutionary history of Homo sapiens; and the closely intertwined nature of biology and culture in the workings of evolutionary change.

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