Rituals are regular or repetitive patterns of behavior, and many of them are closely associated with religious practices. Are religious rituals non-adaptive byproducts like Dawkins and Pinker say about religion, or do they have genetic predispositions? Unlike religious beliefs, which have no evidential support and are not amenable to scientific evaluation, religious rituals have the advantage that, as behavioral actions, they can be observed and even measured. What are the religious rituals, what characteristics do they have in common, and what is the evidence for biological contributions to these ritual behaviors? Does a psychobiological basis for religious ritual suggest evolutionary inspiration? Or could elaborate and complex religious rituals come from our minds as byproducts of other evolutionarily advantageous capacities?

Mitch Diamond got his BA in Biology from UC Santa Cruz and has maintained a keen interest in the biology of human behavior. He is author of Darwin’s Apple: The Evolutionary Biology of Religion, which he wrote because he was unsatisfied with the existing scientific explanations for religion. He shucked the prevailing dogma and derived a new hypothesis for the origin of religious behavior. Mitch has previously given talks to the ACSJ about The Problem with Consciousness and The Problem with Scientists.

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