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Cognitive science and religious belief

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 08:41 authored by Graham WoodGraham Wood
The cognitive science of religion draws on insights from evolutionary psychology, and offers explanations of religious belief based on natural cognitive processes. This article examines a number of competing explanations of religious belief by considering it as a solution to the challenge of cooperation. The challenge of stopping individuals cheating within a cooperative group has been a problem throughout humanity's evolutionary history. Empirical evidence drawn from fields such as anthropology and psychology suggests that religious beliefs are part of an evolved cognitive system that motivates individuals to cooperate with other members of their group. Three possible evolutionary accounts, the memetic, by-product, and adaptation accounts, are considered as evolved solutions to the challenge of cooperation.

History

Publication title

Philosophy Compass

Volume

6

Issue

10

Pagination

734-745

ISSN

1747-9991

Department/School

School of Humanities

Publisher

Wiley

Place of publication

Chichester

Rights statement

Copyright 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in philosophy and religious studies

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