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Dreaming in religion and pilgrimage: cognitive, evolutionary and cultural perspectives

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Andreas Nordin
Publicerad i Religion
Volym 41
Nummer/häfte 2
Sidor 225-249
ISSN 0048-721X
Publiceringsår 2011
Publicerad vid Institutionen för globala studier, socialantropologi
Sidor 225-249
Språk en
Länkar www.tandfonline.com/loi/rrel20
Ämnesord dreaming; cognition; evolution; pilgrimage; religion; supernatural agents; threat simulation
Ämneskategorier Filosofi, etik och religion, Psykologi, Övrig annan humaniora, Övrig annan samhällsvetenskap

Sammanfattning

Dreams are a universal human experience and they form cultural themes in folk traditions and religious rituals, such as pilgrimages and dream incubation. Dreams and dream beliefs are important since they contain representations of interacting supernatural agents that have full access to information of strategic importance to humans. The relevance of dreams often relates to the dreamers’ concerns about the future and about health, and in this sense they show similarity with divination and oracles. This article suggests that religious dreaming is underpinned by an evolved system of threat simulation that is activated in dreaming processes; this is associated with a proclivity to evoke agent concepts and to use counterintuitive representations in cultural communication. It is argued that the use of a ‘hypersensitive agency detection device’ draws upon emotionally laden threat simulation in dreaming that makes reference to counterintuitive supernatural agents that are particularly relevant. This suggests that recalling religious dreams and the cultural transmission of dream reports, narratives and interpretations rely on representations of agents in general and the salience of counterintuitive agents in particular. Furthermore, the explanatory adequacy of ‘threat simulation theory’ is related to non-apprehensive religious dreams and ‘social simulation theory’. These discussions lead on to ethnographic descriptions of the connections between ‘supernaturalism’, pilgrimage, dream beliefs and dream incubation rituals in Nepalese Himalaya and Indian Bengal.

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