How much does Buddha in the Tyva Republic concern himself with human doings? Benjamin Grant Purzycki, CC BY-ND

Did punitive gods expand human society?

Benjamin Purzycki, University of British Columbia

For the bulk of our evolutionary history, human groups were small, tightly knit communities. Only quite recently, some human groups started evolving into the large-scale societies with vast interconnected trade networks we know today. Urban areas in Mesopotamia, for example, developed around 5,000 years ago. Whether trading or purchasing goods online, many people all over the world now interact with multitudes of anonymous people on a regular basis. How did this dramatic growth happen?