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Evolutionary Religious Studies: A New Field of Scientific Inquiry

Charles Darwin and other early evolutionists were fascinated by religious phenomena and how they might be explained from an evolutionary perspective. Nevertheless, evolutionary theory became restricted to the biological sciences and excluded from the study of many human-related subjects for most of the 20th century. Only now is the theory being used to explain all aspects of humanity in addition to the rest of life. The new field of evolutionary religious studies is part of this larger trend.

This website provides an introduction to the study of religion from an evolutionary perspective. It includes the following features:

  • A beginner’s guide that explains how religion can be approached from an evolutionary perspective and how this new approach can be integrated with other perspectives.
  • Several discussion forums to facilitate communication between community members, including a regular article discussion series.
  • A resource list providing links to key articles, books and websites that approach religious phenomena from an evolutionary perspective.
  • A directory of scientists and scholars from all backgrounds who have become interested in studying religion from an evolutionary perspective.
  • A Journalist Inquiry Service aimed at providing journalists with cutting edge information and commentary about religion from an evolutionary/scientific perspective.
  • A research project on religious conceptions of the afterlife, which is intended to provide a model for projects on other elements of religion. If you are a religious scholar who is knowledgeable about a particular religious system and its conception of the afterlife, then you are invited to join this project.

Please visit the EvoS web site for a more general introduction to evolution in relation to human affairs.

This website is funded by a TARP (Templeton Advanced Research Program) grant from the John Templeton Foundation, which is administred by the Metanexus Institute. It is directed by an evolutionist (David Sloan Wilson) and a religious scholar (William Scott Green), with the help of a diverse advisory board. Evolutionary theory includes a number of major hypotheses about religion that must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Our goal is for this website to reflect the full diversity of approaches within the field of evolutionary religious studies.

For questions and comments, contact the program director, David Sloan Wilson.