Religion and the Biological and Cultural and Evolution Child’s Play
Ronald F. White, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy
Mount St. Joseph University
All human behavior can be explained in terms the interaction between biological and cultural evolution. Biological evolution is marked by timeless-universality; or patterns of behavior that have “evolved” very little since the Pleistocene Era (3.4 million years ago). Cultural evolution explains patterns of behavior that are relative to specific times and places. Thus, child’s play can be explained in terms of both biology and culture. Religious behavior is similarly shaped by both biology and culture. The formation of what we call “organized religions” begin in the years following the Agricultural Revolution. Since then, a host of religions have exerted profound influences upon human behavior, especially the behavior of young children. Although the empirical study of child’s play reveals a broad under-current of timeless universality, it also indicates many contextual elements that are culturally relative to both time and place. Thus, worldwide, a variety of religions continue to determine how children can play, with whom they can play, and where they can play. This presentation will explore the ever-widening mismatch between childhood behaviors shaped by biology and behaviors that are re-shaped by religious cultures. This talk will emphasize, the role that adult religious leaders and followers play in perpetuating that bio-cultural mismatch.