The Cultural Evolution of Religion
Marsden Project with Russell Gray (PI), Simon Greenhill (PI)
Templeton Foundation Project also with Quinten Atkinson (AI)
I am an associate investigator (AI) on this project with Auckland's world-class Language and Cultural Evolution Group. This is the gist of our project:
Questions about the origins and functions of religion exert an enduring fascination. I am part of a Marsden funded project with Auckland University Language and Cultural Evolution group http://www.psych.auckland.ac.nz/uoa/language-and-cultural-evolution-group that is using quantitative biological methods to unlock the secrets of the historical emergence and functions of religions. The Auckland group has pioneered the application of computational phylogenetic methods for investigating the cultural evolution of languages and of political complexity. Our project is applying computational phylogenetic methods to evaluate specific hypotheses about religion’s functional role in the emergence of complex societies. In addition to resolving old debates, our research will produce in a powerful set of tools that will help historians to address a wide range of questions about the historical dynamics of religious cultures. Thus far, we have one publication accepted for publication.
J. Bulbulia, Quentin Atkinson, Russell Gray, Simon Greenhill (in press). Why do religions evolve slowly? In Istvan Czachesz & Ristro Uro Editors. Mind, Morality and Magic: Cognitive Science Approaches in Biblical Studies. Equinox, London, England