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Christopher Corbally

Christopher J. Corbally, SJ, is a Jesuit priest on the staff of the Vatican Observatory and an Adjunct Associate Astronomer at the University of Arizona. As Co-Founder of the Human Sentience Project he continues his interdisciplinary interests in Earth- and space-based questions.



How an Advanced Neurocognitive Human Trait for Religious Capacity Fails to Form

Issue: 8:1 (The twenty nineth issue)
The authors present an evolutionary model for the biological emergence of
religious capacity as an advanced neurocognitive trait. Using their model for
the stages leading to the evolutionary emergence of religious capacity in Homo
sapiens, they analyze the mechanisms that can fail, leading to unbelief (atheism
or agnosticism). The analysis identifies some, but not all types of atheists and
agnostics, so they turn their question around and, using the same evolutionary
model, ask what keeps religion going. Why does its development not fail in
one social group after another, worldwide? Their final analysis searches for
reasons in important evolutionary changes in the senses of hearing, vision, and
general sensitivity on the hominin line, which together interact with both
intellectual and emotional brain networks to achieve, often in human groups,
variously altered states of consciousness, especially a numinous state enabled
in part by a brain organ, the precuneus. An inability to experience the
numinous, consider it important, or believe in its supernatural nature, may
cleave the human population into those with belief and those with unbelief.