Keywords: adaptation, coevolution, cognitive science of religion, exaptation, niche construction.
A naturalistic approach to the study of the relationship between biology and
culture is to be meant in relation to a unitary conception of human beings. In
this article we argue that an account of such conception needs to appeal to a
co-evolutive view of the relations between biology and culture. However, this
idea of coevolution, if it does not want to be just commonsense explanation,
must make two specific conceptual assumptions: a conception of culture (at
least of some of its characteristics) as a form of biological adaptation; an interpretation
of cultural beliefs and behaviors as an «ecological niche» in which
individuals are immersed and to which they must adapt to survive. The case
study that supports the general hypothesis that we make in this article concerns
the biocognitive foundations of religious beliefs and behaviors. For by construing
these beliefs and behaviors as cultural ecological niches, it is possible to
argue that the biocognitive systems that subserve religion can be conceived as
biological adaptations due to natural selection.