Gods Are Everywhere Because It’s Hard to Bargain With Them

Connor Wood: According to one popular hypothesis, people naturally tend to be religious because our brains, evolved to survive in the dangerous Paleolithic era, are hyper-sensitive to signals of agency, or personhood — and as a result, we’re constantly “seeing” signs of disembodied agents everywhere around us. In a new paper, my colleague John Shaver and I advance a different possibility: gods and spirits are ubiquitous because it’s really, really hard to bargain with them. The paper was published the other week in the journal Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture (ESIC).


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