Christianity and the Roots of Morality

Philosophical, Early Christian and Empirical Perspectives


What is the role of religion, especially Christianity, in morality, pro-social behavior and altruism? Are there innate human moral capacities in the human mind? When and how did they appear in the history of evolution? What is the real significance of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount — does it set up unique moral standards or only crystallize humans’ innate moral intuitions? What is the role of religious teachings and religious communities in pro-social behavior? Christianity and the Roots of Morality: Philosophical, Early Christian, and Empirical Perspectives casts light on these questions through interdisciplinary articles by scholars from social sciences, cognitive science, social psychology, sociology of religion, philosophy, systematic theology, comparative religion and biblical studies.

Contributors include: Nancy T. Ammerman, István Czachesz, Grace Davie, Jutta Jokiranta, Simo Knuuttila, Kristen Monroe, Mika Ojakangas, Sami Pihlström, Antti Raunio, Heikki Räisänen (✝), Risto Saarinen, Kari Syreeni, Lauri Thurén, Petri Ylikoski.

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Petri Luomanen, ThD (1996), University of Helsinki, is Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Culture and Literature at that university. He has published monographs and many articles on early Christianity, including Explaining Christian Origins and Early Judaism (Brill 2007; co-edited with Ilkka Pyysiäinen and Risto Uro) and Recovering Jewish-Christian Sects and Gospels (Brill, 2012).

Anne Birgitta Pessi, ThD (2004), University of Helsinki, is Professor of Church and Social Studies at that university. She has published, in over 50 referee journal articles and is currently directing two large interdisciplinary research projects on compassion and care.

Ilkka Pyysiäinen, PhD (1993) University of Helsinki is Docent in Comparative Religion at that university and the University of Turku. He has published widely in the cognitive science of religion, including How Religion Works (Brill, 2001, 2003) and Supernatural Agents: Why We Believe in Souls, Gods, and Buddhas (Oxford University Press, 2009).

List of Contributors
Petri Luomanen, Anne Birgitta Pessi and Ilkka Pyysiäinen

Part 1 - Morality and Religion: Setting the Evolutionary and Philosophical Scene
Moral Gods and the Origins of Human Cooperation
Petri Ylikoski
The Evolution of Morality and Religion
Ilkka Pyysiäinen
Religious Morality or Moral Religion? Kantian and Pragmatist Reflections
Sami Pihlström
Divine Evil, Godless Responsibility, Religious Happiness
Mika Ojakangas
Comment 1: Comments on Ilkka Pyysiäinen’s “The Evolution of Morality and Religion”
Simo Knuuttila
Comment 2: Religion Irrespective of Morality
Jutta Jokiranta

Part 2 - Morality and Early Christianity
Morality and the Evolution of Christianity
Petri Luomanen
The Sermon on the Mount: Christian or Universal Ethics?
Kari Syreeni
Foundations of Early Christian Morality in the Light of Modern Argumentation Analysis
Lauri Thurén
Are Christians Better People? On the Contrast between “Us” and “Them” in Early Christian Rhetoric
Heikki Räisänen
Comment 1: Morality, Networks, and Cultural Evolution: A Short Commentary on Petri Luomanen’s “Morality and the
Evolution of Christianity”
István Czachesz
Comment 2: Content and Motivation in Christian Ethics: Comments on Syreeni’s, Thurén’s, and Räisänen’s Papers
Antti Raunio

Part 3 - Morality and Christianity in Everyday Life

Learning and Living the Golden Rule: Religious Communities and Morality
Nancy T. Ammerman
Religion and Moral Choice: Does an Innate Moral Sense Account for Religion’s Influence on Moral Choice?
Kristen Monroe
Religion and Morality: Empirical Illustrations
Anne Birgitta Pessi
Comment 1: A Theologian’s Response to Ammerman, Monroe, and Pessi
Risto Saarinen
Comment 2: Religion, Altruism, and Everyday Life: Some Reflections
Grace Davie
Synthesis for Further Discussion
Petri Luomanen

Index of Modern Authors
Subject Index
All interested in the relationship between religion and morality, philosophy of religion, altruism, pro-social behaviour, cultural evolution, church and social studies, and early Christianity.
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