An Introduction to the Cognitive Science of Religion: Connecting Evolution, Brain, Cognition, and Cu


ForewordAcknowledgementsPrinciples of postmodernism, cultural determinism, and extreme forms of cultural relativismThe promotion of interpretative accounts of religious ideas and behaviorsOutdated or nonexistent theories of human psychologyPrivileging personal accounts over systematic theories of religionSummary of challenges to trends in cultural studies among early pioneers in CSRThe influence of evolutionary approaches in early formations of CSRsummaryCore assumptions about religion and belief Classic conceptualizations of religionThe conceptualization of religion in CSRFolk concepts are not a reliable means of constructing scientific theories about religionA bottom-нр, fractionation approach is a reliable method to explain religionEstablishing causal relationships between ideas and behaviors is a reliable means of categorizing religionSummary of core assumptions underlying the conceptualization of religion in CSRIntuitive assumptions draw upon different cognitive processes than propositional beliefsCSR explains the transmission potential of religious ideasSummary of core assumptions underlying the conceptualization of belief in CSRsummaryNotesResearch questions Why do some religious ideas and behaviors persist?(a) Popular and theological versions of religion(h) Theologically correct and incorrect ideasWhat kind of mind does it take to represent these ideas and behave accordingly?(a) Identifying cognitive foundations(b) Religion emerges as a result of typically developing cognition(c) Religious traditions may have distinctive configurations of religious ideas and behaviors, but they draw upon the same pool of psychological tendenciesWhat is the source of these cognitive tendencies?(a) Cognitive accounts(h) Cognitive-evolutionary accountsHow does culture interact with cognition to produce religion?(a) Content and context biasesOverview summary of basic assumptions in CSR as outlined in this chaptersummaryNotesMethods Religion can be studied using scientific methodsMethodological naturalismMethodological pluralismInterdisciplinarity integration in CSRSummary of methodological assumptions and approaches in CSRsummaryNotesThe nature of the world Explaining the origins and development of the natural worldWhy do people reject evolutionary theory and endorse creationism?Cognitive biases that impede understanding evolution and favor creationismPsychological essentialismWhen intuitions and scientific facts about the world collideThe rationality of religious and scientific thinkingExplaining events in the world: Coexistence reasoningExplaining events in the world: reasoning about moral justiceImmanent justice reasoningThe cognitive basis of immanent justice reasoningSummary of explaining events in the worldResearch case study: The coexistence of natural and supernatural explanations for illnesssummaryThe afterlife Cognitive theories of afterlife beliefsImmortality in the afterlife as cognitive defaultContextual theories of afterlife beliefsImmortality in the afterlife as culturally learnedPsychological and physical continuity in the afterlifeBiological and religious conceptions of deathSummary of cognitive and contextual theories of afterlife beliefsSimulation constraintsFolk-dualismEmbodiment theoriesEmbodiment in the afterlife in some contextsSocial embodiment in the afterlifeEmbodied people in the afterlifePsychological essentialismTheory of mind, emotional attachment, enduring mental models and offline social reasoningTheory of mind and representing the deceased as mentally activeOffline social reasoning and the deceased existing in another placeSummary of intuitions that favor afterlife beliefsWho wants to live forever? Motivational theories of afterlife beliefsBelief in the afterlife as tenor managementFear of death facilitates the spread of afterlife beliefsSummary of motivational theories of afterlife beliefsSummary of motivational theories of afterlife beliefssummarySupernatural agents The acquisition and development of supernatural agent conceptsThe representation of supernatural agent concepts in adultsThe spread of supernatural agent concepts: countering intuitive biasesCognitive explanations for the spread of supernatural agent conceptsThe role of social learning in the representation of supernatural agentsThe philosophical implications of cognitive theories of supernatural agentssummaryMorality : Where does morality come from?The moral foundations of hitmansThe moral foundations of nonhuman animalsThe origins of moralityHow does religion impact moral decision-making and behavior in contemporary society?Metaethics: where people derive moral guidanceMoralizing spectrum: What people care aboutMoral discrimination: Whom people care aboutMoral motivation: Why and when people act prosocially: Evolutionary-cognitive perspectives on the relationship between religion and moralityReligion encourages prosocial behavior because it hinges upon our evolved tendenciesReligion is not the only route to behavior modification, but it is highly effectiveA new fractionation approach to religion and moralityResearchers must fractionate the categories of religion and morality into theoretically grounded elementsEstablish connections between theoretically grounded elements of religion and moralityResearch case study: Religion as surveillance and moral enforcementsummaryRituals Part 1: How are rituals learned, represented, and transmitted? What are rituals?Actions lack a physical-causal mechanism and rationaleBehaviors are rigid, repetitive, redundant, and disconnected from ordinary goalsRitualized behaviors do not stop when they fail to produce the intended outcomeHow are rituals learned?How are rituals represented?How are rituals transmitted?Modes of religiosity (MOR)Modes of Religiosity (MOR) theory and Ritual Form Hypothesis (RFH)Research case study: Modes of Religiosity (MOR) theory of religious transmissionsummaryRituals Part 2: What are the functions of rituals? What do rituals do for the individual?What do rituals do for the group?Social cohesionCostly signalingCredibility enhancing displays (CREDs)Social complexitysummaryPhilosophical and theological implications of CSRPhilosophical and theological questions in response to CSR researchThe general stance of CSR on whether or not religion is trueEvaluation, implications and future directionsThe role of evolution in religionMethods and theories underlying the scientific study of religionThe conceptualization of religion in CSRThe role of cognition and culture in explaining religionThe role of experience, the body, emotions, and motivation in religious belief and behaviorPhenomenology of religious experienceSummary of evaluation, implications, and future directionssummaryGlossary