Jay R. Feiermann. The Biology of Religious Behavior: The Evolutionary Origins of Faith and Religion


  • Michael Blume Universität Marburg Fachbereich Gesellschaftswissenschaften und Philosophie Institut für Vergleichende Kulturforschung FG Religionswissenschaft




Religion, religion, Glaube, faith, Biologie, biology, Evolution, Verhalten


In recent years, interdisciplinary studies on the evolution of religion (commonly defined as behavior towards supernatural agents) made some encouraging progress, with two European conferences leading to shared projects and publications. In September 2007, a range of scientists from diverse fields convened at the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg (HWK) in Delmenhorst, Germany, exploring “The Biological Evolution of Religious Mind and Behavior” (Springer 2009) especially from empirical perspectives. Among the participants, zoologist Jay R. Feierman advocated a deeper understanding of the “behavioral” side of religion, organizing another conference in July 2008 at Bologna University, leading to the volume “The Biology of Religious Behavior” reviewed here. Owing to this perspective, the volume is structured according to the five-step concept of Nobel Laureate ethologist Niko Tinbergen (1907-1988): 1. Describe the behavior. 2. Explore its evolutionary history. 3. Explore its development in the individual life-cycle. 4. Explore the behavior’s immediate, mechanistic causes. 5. Explore the adaptive (reproductive and survival) potentials of the behavior. The volume offers an exciting read, running the whole gamut from seriously empirical to wildly speculative.




How to Cite

Blume, M. (2015). Jay R. Feiermann. The Biology of Religious Behavior: The Evolutionary Origins of Faith and Religion. Marburg Journal of Religion, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.17192/mjr.2010.15.3427