Learning and Communication – How Religions Reproduce

  • Ina Wunn
  • Davina Grojnowski
Part of the New Approaches to the Scientific Study of Religion book series (NASR, volume 6)


The flow of information by means of communication is not subject to any physiological regulations, as new combination of the information material adhering to mathematically verifiable regularities does not take place! The beliefs, religious rules, and behaviours can be taken on in their entirety from the religious attachment figure or an authority. In the course of communication they can be transformed several times and adapt to the respective, contemporaneous conditions. This is what makes cultural evolution and also the evolution of religions, given a change in the environment, faster than the biological evolution which is firmly inscribed on the genes.


Reproduction Communication Signs, signals, symbols 


  1. Abu Hanieh, H., & Abu Rumman, M. (2016). IS und Al-Qaida. Die Krise der Sunniten und die Rivalität im globalen Dschihad. Bonn: Dietz.Google Scholar
  2. Atran, S. (2001). The trouble with memes. Inference versus imitation in cultural creation. Human Nature. Vol. 12, No. 4, 351–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aunger, R. (2006). An Agnostic View of Memes. In J. CK. Wells, S. Strickland, and K. Laland (Eds.) Social Information Transmission and Human Biology (89–96). Boca Raton, London, New York: Taylor & Francis.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bauer, T.(2011). Die Kultur der Ambiguität. Eine andere Geschichte des Islams. Berlin: VdWR im Inselverlag.Google Scholar
  5. Baumann, H. (1979). Die Völker Afrikas und ihre traditionellen Kulturen; Vol. 2 Ost-, West- und Nordafrika.Wiesbaden: Steiner.Google Scholar
  6. Beck, K. (2018). Kommunikationswissenschaft. Konstanz and Munich: UVK Verlagsgesellschaft.Google Scholar
  7. Blackmore, S. J. (1999). The Meme Machine. Oxford [GB]: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bloch, M. (2005). A well-disposed social anthropologist’s problems with memes. In M. Bloch, Essays on cultural transmission. (87–102) Oxford and New York: Berg.Google Scholar
  9. Bourdieu, P. (2011). Religion. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  10. Bresch, C. (1983). Evolution aus alpha-Bedingungen, Zufallstürmen und Systemzwängen. In R. Riedl and F. Kreutzer (Eds.) Evolution und Menschenbild (pp.22–39). Hamburg: Hoffmann & Campe.Google Scholar
  11. Calian, C.S. (1995). Redeeming the wasteland? Christian TV increasingly uses entertainment to spread its message. Christianity Today, 39 (11), 92–103.Google Scholar
  12. Carey, J. W. (1992). Communication as culture. Essays on media and society. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Cavalli-Sforza, Luigi Luca (2001). Genes, Peoples, and Languages. London: PenguinGoogle Scholar
  14. Ceylan, R. (2017). Lasset uns in sha‘a Allah ein Plan machen. Fallgestützte Analyse der Radikalisierung einer WhattsApp Gruppe. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.Google Scholar
  15. Dawkins, R. (1976). The selfish gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Dawkins, R. (1985). Universal Darwinism. In D. S. Bendall (Ed.). Evolution from Molecules to Men. (403–423). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Dennett, D. (2007). Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  18. Dias, Jorge and Margot (1997). Der rituelle Tanz der Makonde, in: Kristian Fenzl (Hg.), Makonde „Mapiko“, Linz 1997, pp. 179–190.Google Scholar
  19. Dittmar, J., & Seabold, S. (2015). Media, markets and institutional change: Evidence from the protestant reformation. CRP Discussion Paper No 1367, August 2015. Google Scholar
  20. Dobzhansky, T. (1953). Genetics and the origin of species. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Dudel, J., Menzel, R. & Schmidt, R. F. (Eds) (2001). Neurowissenschaft. Vom Molekül zur Kognition. Berlin et al.: Springer.Google Scholar
  22. Edmonds, E. B. (2012). Rastafari: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Edwards, M. U. (1994). Printing, propaganda, and Martin Luther. Berkeley, CA.: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  24. Evans-Pritchard, E. E. (1956). Nuer religion. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Fishkoff, S. (2011). Das Heer des Rebben. Einblicke in die Chabad-Bewegung. Zürich: Edition Books & Bagels.Google Scholar
  26. Gazzaniga, M. S., & Heatherton, T. F. (2006). Psychological science. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  27. Hage, W. (2007). Das orientalische Christentum. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer.Google Scholar
  28. Haile, G. (2005). Ethiopian Church. In L. Jones, et al. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Religion 2nd. Ed. Vol 5 (pp. 2859–2862). Detroit et al.: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  29. Hasson, U., Ghazanfar, A. A., Galantucci, B., Garrod, S., & Keysers, C. (2012). Brain-to-Brain coupling: A mechanism for creating and sharing a social world. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 16(2), 114–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Heyer, F. (1998). Äthiopische Orthodoxe Kirche. In RGG 4 Vol. 1 (pp.899–900). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.Google Scholar
  31. Hillerbrand, H. J. (1987). Reformation. In L. Jones et al. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Religion 2nd. Ed. Vol 11 (pp.7656–7665). Detroit et al.: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  32. Homans, G. C. (1950 [2017]). The Human Group. New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Atlanta: Harcourt, Brace & World.Google Scholar
  33. Horsfield, P. G. (1984). Religious television. The American experience. Communication and human values. New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  34. Huxley, T. H. (1880). The coming of age of ‘The origin of species’. Science. 1, 15–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jablonka, E., & Lamb, M. J. (2006). Evolution in Four Dimensions. Genetic, Epigenetic, Behavioral, and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life. Cambridge, Mass., and London, England: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  36. Kappeler, P. (2009) Verhaltensbiologie. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
  37. Kaufmann, T. (2017). Konfession belebt das Geschäft. In Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 15.9.2017, p. 14.Google Scholar
  38. Ki-Zerbo, Joseph (1986). Die Geschichte Schwarz-Afrikas. Frankfurt: Fischer.Google Scholar
  39. Knobloch, C. (2015). Deutschland – feindlich Vaterland? Von altem und neuem Antisemitismus (pp. 255–272). In I. Wunn & B. Schneider (Eds.), Das Gewaltpotenzial der Religionen. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer.Google Scholar
  40. Kruger, A. & Tomasello, M. (1996). Cultural learning and learning culture. In: D. R. Olson & N. Torrance (Eds.). Handbook of education and human development. New models of learning, teaching, and schooling. (pp. 369–387). Cambridge: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  41. Kumar, Revathi Siva (November 3, 2014) UN Report On 15,000 Foreigners Joining ISIS Fighters In Syria And Iraq Will Shock You, retrieved on 28.9.2017.
  42. Kundt, R. (2015). Contemporary evolutionary theories of culture and the study of religion. London, Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  43. Laland, K. & Brown, G. (2006). An introduction to evolutionary models of human social behavior. In J. Ck. Wells, S. Strickland, and K. Laland (Eds.). Social information transmission and human biology. 19–38. Boca Raton: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  44. Laland, K. & Brown, G. (2011). Sense & nonsense. Evolutionary perspectives on human behavior. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Lewens, T. (2015). Cultural evolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Liebenow, J. G. (1971). Colonial rule and political development in Tanzania: The case of the Makonde. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Maier, J. (1992). Geschichte der jüdischen Religion. Freiburg, Basel, Wien: Herder.Google Scholar
  48. Mbiti, J. (1974). Afrikanische Religion und Weltanschauung. Berlin, New York: De Gruyter.Google Scholar
  49. Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, Self, and Society. Edited by C. W. Morris. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  50. Mortimer, E. (1982). Faith and Power. The Politics of Islam. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  51. Nieden, M. (2012). The Wittenberg Reformation as a Media Event. (Original in German, displayed in English). In EGO European History online. Published 27.07.2012.Google Scholar
  52. Petry, D. (2007). Der Kalifatsstaat. In I. Wunn (Ed.) Muslimische Gruppierungen in Deutschland : ein Handbuch. 55–64. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer.Google Scholar
  53. Richerson, P. J., & Boyd, R. (2005). Not by genes alone: How culture transforms human evolution. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  54. Rothenbuhler, E. (2001). Revising communication research for working on community. In G. J. Sheperd and E. Rothenbuhler (Eds.), Communication and community (pp.159–179). Mahwah, New Jersey, and London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.Google Scholar
  55. Rubin, J. (2014). Printing and Protestants: An empirical test of the role of printing in the Reformation”. Review of Economics and Statistics 96 (2), 270–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Schmitz, W. (1998). Buch / Buchwesen. In RGG 4 Vol. 1 (pp.1813–1816). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.Google Scholar
  57. Schneider, W. (2015). Krieg gegen das Kalifat. Der Westen, die Kurden und die Bedrohung “Islamischer Staat”. Wien: Braumüller.Google Scholar
  58. Scholem, G. (1973). Sabbatai Sevi: The Mystical Messiah. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Schwarz, R. (1998). Luther. In RGG 4 Vol. 5 (p.650). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.Google Scholar
  60. Sharot, S. (2011). Comparative perspectives on Judaisms and Jewish identities. Wayne State University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Simpson, G. G. (1963). Historical science. In C. C. Albritton, Jr. (Ed.), Fabric of geology (pp.24–48). Stanford, California: Freeman, Cooper, and Company.Google Scholar
  62. Slatin, R. C. (1896). Fire and sword in the Sudan; a personal narrative of fighting and serving the Dervishes. 1879–1895. London: E. Arnold.Google Scholar
  63. Strahler, A.N. (1987). Science and earth history. The evolution/creation controversy. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  64. Tattersall, I. (1995). The fossil trail. How we know what we think about human evolution. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 202, 204, 230.Google Scholar
  65. Tattersall, I. (1998). Becoming human. Evolution and human uniqueness. San Diego, New York, and London: Harvest, pp. 119–126.Google Scholar
  66. Tattersall, I. (2012). Masters of the planet. The search for our human origins. New York: Palgrave Mc Millan, pp. 69–79.Google Scholar
  67. Tittensor, D. (2014). The house of service: The Gulen movement and Islam’s Third Way. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tomasello, M. (1999). The cultural origins of human cognition. Cambride, Mass. & London, England: Harvard University Press.:Google Scholar
  69. Tomasello, M. (2010). Origins of human communication. Cambridge, Mass., and London, England: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  70. Turner, V. W. (1967). The forest of symbol: aspects of Ndembu ritual. Ithaca : Cornell Univ Press, 1967.Google Scholar
  71. Gennep, A. van (1909/1960). The rites of passage. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  72. Warburg, A. (1939) A Lecture on Serpent Ritual. Journal of the Warburg Institute Vol. 2, No. 4, 277–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Warburg, A. (2010). Werke. Edited by M. Treml et al. Berlin: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  74. Watt, W. M., & Marmura, M. (1985). Der Islam II. Politische Entwicklung und theologische Konzepte. Stuttgart: KohlhammerGoogle Scholar
  75. Wells, J., and Strickland, S. (2006). Biological ends and human social information transmission. In J. CK. Wells, S. Strickland, and K. Laland (Eds.). Social information transmission and human biology. 97–118. Boca Raton: Taylor & Francis.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Zavadski, K. (23 November 2014). “ISIS Now Has a Network of Military Affiliates in 11 Countries Around the World”. New York. Retrieved on 25.11.2014.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ina Wunn
    • 1
  • Davina Grojnowski
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of PhilosophyLeibniz University of HanoverHanoverGermany
  2. 2.Formerly King’s CollegeLondonUK

Personalised recommendations