Recent Scientific Explanations of Religious Beliefs: A Systematic Account

Lluis Oviedo

Abstract The study of beliefs - both in a large sense and specifically religious - has had exponential development in the past number of years. The current research makes good use of cognitive and neuroscientific methods, allowing for a deeper insight into the structure of beliefs and believing as a complex process. Religious faith has received particular attention, giving rise to many studies. For clear access to its variety and value, a systematic review on the published material is presented in an Appendix, which includes - to date - 75 books and articles applying cognitive, evolutionary, and neurological approaches, and other new methods, in an attempt to better characterize religious experience and beliefs. As a result, a dynamic picture emerges and some development can be followed toward more complex and inclusive theories. A case is made for the utility that this research can offer for the study of broadly understood beliefs; the same can be stated regarding the application of research on general beliefs for a better knowledge on religious ones.

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