The Cognitive Science of Religion and Its Philosophical Implications

Routledge, 2016

Helen De Cruz and I partnered to edit this volume of boundary-pushing papers that range across inferential terrain between cognitive science of religion and philosophy. Cognitive science of religion examines the cognitive bases of religious beliefs and practices. Its research encompasses the range and contents of religious beliefs across cultures, representations of supernatural beings and their effects on prosocial and between-group behavior, cognition of personhood and embodiment, and much more. We believe that results in cognitive science ought to inform philosophical discussions of religion and religious belief. This is for the simple fact that philosophers of religion make a variety of empirical claims—about the naturalness of theism and the effects of religious belief on moral behavior, to name two. 

Though most philosophers have been slow to account for empirical evidence that challenges their a priori work in religion, this volume features contributions by psychologists, philosophers and interdisciplinary researchers that apply data from the psychology of religion to important problems in the philosophy of religion. Problems discussed in this book include the psychology of religious diversity, the psychology of substance dualism, the problem of evil, and the relation between religious belief and empathy—and the cognitive science explaining the formation of intuitions that unwittingly guide philosophers of religion when formulating arguments. We are proud to have such outstanding researchers contribute to our volume. 

Read the Introduction (PDF) →