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The Role of Ritual in the Evolution of Social Complexity

As a deep and enduring aspect of human societies and individual psychology, religion remains an evolutionary puzzle. Considering its centrality in so many lives, however, the scientific study of religion remains a largely neglected and fragmented topic. In this workshop, an international and interdisciplinary group of eminent scholars explore the current state of our knowledge concerning religion as a complex bundle of behavior-belief packages rooted in genetic and cultural evolution. The focus will be on fresh developments and current controversies about the evolution of commitments to gods, rituals, sacred values, as well as religious cooperation and conflict in the world today.  The format will encourage brief talks followed by extensive discussion and debate. Speakers are asked to reflect on emerging themes across disciplinary boundaries, and formulate the new and important questions that will shape future developments of this growing field over the next decade.