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The research is supported by a grant of the Russian Basic Research Foundation (RFH), №16-03-00117а

The paper ponders over the phenomenon of religion from the standpoint of the modern neuroscience progress. The author claims that the emergence and expansion of different religions, as well as religious activity, has happened due to external (social and cultural) and internal (neurobiological) reasons. The results of neuroscience research testify to the ontogenetic sources and foundations of religion flourishing in a certain socio-cultural atmosphere. When social item grows, religion gains greater capacity to carry further expansion out. Within the society, religion plays an effective role of socialization, being the gluing factor and regulator of social relations. From the standpoint of social psychology and cultural neuroscience, the emergence of religion is conceived as the result of the process of human adaptation to the environment in which both neurophysiologic and socio-cultural factors are intertwined. The main reason is that the chances to survive of an individual in an environment that harbors a host of dangers increase significantly if he or she is a member of a particular social group and, therefore, can count upon help of its members in difficult situations. The increase in the plasticity of brain structures and their complication, expressed in the increase in brain size, occurred in response to requests of socio-cultural factors. The more numerous the social group was, the greater number of degrees of survival it acquired. The achievement by a certain community of the dimensions of a “big society” naturally attracted the expansion of the areas of religion. The paper provides arguments in favor of the claim that if we take into account empirical basis of modern neuroscience, then the nature of religion implies the factors of its genesis by natural (and, in this sense, a priori predetermined) features of the human brain (the ontogenetic foundations of religiosity), and features of supra-individual, cultural, and activity factors (regulation of intra-group relations).

Keywords: religion, neuroscience, neurotheology, socio-cultural nature of religion

DOI: 10.22250/2072-8662.2018.1.118-125

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About the author


Valentin A. Bazhanov – DSc (Philosophy), Professor, Head of the Department of Philosophy

of Ulyanovsk State University, Honorary Scholar of the Russian Federation,

Member of Academie Internationale de Philosophie des Sciences ; 432000 Ulyanovsk, L.Tolstoy str., 42, UlSU;

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