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Cognitive science and religious belief
journal contributionposted 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.
Publication titlePhilosophy Compass
Department/SchoolSchool of Humanities
Place of publicationChichester
Rights statementCopyright 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.