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A Theological Cartography of Cultural Evolution

Hays, Christopher; Burdett, Michael


Christopher Hays


This article maps key points of contact between Christian doctrine and recent advances in cultural evolution. Beginning with theological anthropology, the article shows that cultural evolution problematizes purely substantive accounts of the image of God. Moving to the doctrine of sin, we explain how cultural evolutionary findings enrich and challenge distinct aspects of hamartiology. The article turns to moral topics, since cultural evolution sheds light on altruistic and hyper-social behavior; additionally, we show how belief in moral deities and observation of religious rituals provide an evolutionary advantage. Finally, the authors analyze whether cultural evolution amounts to an explanation of religion.


Hays, C., & Burdett, M. (2017). A Theological Cartography of Cultural Evolution. Theology and Science, 15(4), 473-489.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 1, 2017
Online Publication Date Sep 2, 2017
Publication Date Oct 2, 2017
Deposit Date Aug 1, 2019
Publicly Available Date Aug 14, 2019
Journal Theology and Science
Print ISSN 1474-6700
Electronic ISSN 1474-6719
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 15
Issue 4
Pages 473-489
Keywords Cultural evolution, theological anthropology, hamartiology, morality, altruism, ritual
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Theology and Science on 02/09/2017, available online:


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