The Bio-Evolutionary Approach to Religions: A Study of David Wilson's Perspective

Document Type : Original Research


Ph. D. Graduate of Philosophy of Religion, Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran.


Biologically, one of the most important and distinguishing features of human beings compared to early mammals is culture, which includes political and social institutions, religious and moral traditions. According to bio-genetic studies, religions as a universal culture have a high degree of heritability; Thus, the characteristic of religiosity is inherited from the middle-aged generation by the younger generation. David Wilson, an American biologist, sees religion as a "multilevel adaptation" and product of cultural evolution, shaped by participation and solidarity between groups, and what has led to the survival of religions throughout history and their diversity in different cultures. The direction of solidarity of religious groups is based on practical realism. In Wilson's view, there is no point in arguing for the true reality of religious propositions, and what matters only is the usefulness of the propositions. This kind of explanation of the causes of the emergence and survival of religions throughout human history, epistemologically poses many challenges that are particularly significant in propositional religions and attributed to divine revelation. In this article, Wilson's views are expressed in detail and criticized, and it will be argued that the formation of religious knowledge in a believer can not be explained only by a utilitarian-oriented view based on evolutionary explanations and the role of other epistemological, religious, rational, and emotional components should not be ignored. 


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