The Conscious Evolution of Humans: Towards a Religious Reform
Through contemporary understandings of evolution, humans are known as highly evolved individuated selves that possess superior cognitive abilities and a capacity for self-reflection. The development of exceptional human abilities of awareness of themselves and the surrounding environments has enabled humans to consciously evolve (Heyes). Conscious evolution refers to the capability of humans to be conscious participants in the evolution of their societies through perceiving cultural and social patterns and reacting with those existing patterns. Religions are patterns of social action that have persisted over time and are built upon certain beliefs and rituals that a human group develop to answer questions about the meaning and purpose of existence. The emergence of human religious consciousness dates back thousands of years ago to early Homo sapiens continuing until contemporary major world religions and philosophical traditions (Peoples et al. 262). Religions have had fundamental impacts on our epistemological foundations and the emergence of scientific inquiry. Although religions might have started as means for humans to find meaning and order in the universe, they have become ends for which human groups fight and engage in conflicts. A possible approach to have a better understanding of human nature could be the analysis of religious ideas and experiences in the light of the modern advances in evolutionary psychology and neuroscience. Studying religious consciousness through evolutionary lens with relation to the environment is necessary to gain deeper insights into the human condition and to reconcile between religions and the modern philosophical and scientific understandings of life.