Beliefs in high gods coded by Murdock (1967:52) for 750 of 1267 Ethnographic Atlas (EA) societies reveal 181 “moral” high gods concentrated in Europe, North Africa, and Middle East, areas of Christian and Muslim religions supportive of human morality, as against 42 cases unsupportive of human morality, 248 unconcerned with human affairs, and 277 high gods absent. Known to promote cooperation among animals, variables for ecological scarcity (vs. abundance) and eco-instability (vs. stability), added to the EA by Botero et al.?s (2014) from biocomplexity research, are unexpected predictors of moral god beliefs. Mappings these variables, scarcity associates with European Christian regions and instability with Muslim regions. Eff and Dow?s (2009) “CoSSci” tests of Botero?s findings (with no codes to differentiate religions) show endogenous error terms, correlated with independent variables. Moral-god regions engage conquest-oriented European trade to obtain wealth and prestige goods; historically, Middle Eastern trade through overland routes were oriented to Asian profits. Both regions involve long-distance trade with fixed settlements of traders and owners versus wage laborers or, in the case of camel trade, lineages of camel owners/traders and lesser lineages of wageworkers offered horses in return for brides. Asymmetries of inequality that occur in periods of overpopulation and scarcity when property is more valued and wages are depressed are sometimes cited as to origins and continuation of moral-god religions. Recurrent inequalities generate oscillatory complexity in the histories of these trading groups (Turchin 2005), consistent with SCCS data (White et al. 2011) with Eff and Dow (2009) modeling.


Douglas R. White Mathematical Behavioral Sciences UCI Professor XI Emeritus

Synthesis of Ecology, Biology and Ethnographic Data e-session


Tags: , ,