Study links Belief in Punitive Gods to Growth of Human Societies

Study links Belief in Punitive Gods to Growth of Human Societies

A study has linked expansion of human societies to fear of vengeful gods. The belief in punitive gods may have played a key role in expansion of our societies far beyond small groups, according to the study featured in the journal Nature.

For the study, researchers conducted a survey on 591 persons from eight small-scale societies. They found that participants who believed that their deity of choice is aware of their wrongdoings and may punish them were honestly playing a game where cash was included.

The study has suggested that the people’s belief in punitive gods may be the reason behind humans being a successful species. In last few years, it has been noticed that humans’ awareness of social complexity has been unprecedented in the animal kingdom, said Benjamin Purzycki, an anthropologist at the University of British Columbia and lead author of the study.

“So we’ve got to come up with some satisfactory way of explaining how it’s all possible that we can have remarkably complex societies interact with each other but have quite a fair amount of in-group cooperation and coordination as well”, Purzycki continued.

A link has been found between the type of religion the human societies have and their ability to expand, according to Purzycki. It is a topic of research which tries to find how human societies and human belief systems have co-evolved.

Scientists have been working on this field since a long time, and they have observed in many ways that this relationship between the kinds of deities or religious systems that religions and cultures have, he added.

Such types of relationship could make people behave in less risky ways and may help other groups to conquer another one, as per the study.