Browsing by Subject "Cognitive Science of Religion"

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  • Uro, Risto (2017)
    In recent years, a number of New Testament and early Christian scholars have begun to use cognitive science approaches in their work. In this paper, I situate those efforts within the larger framework of the changing humanities, and the increased interest among humanistic scholars and social scientists in drawing on the growing body of knowledge on the cognitive and evolutionary roots of human thinking and behaviour. I also suggest how cognitive historiography can be helpful in shedding new light on issues discussed by New Testament scholars, by elaborating a case study: an analysis of the rite introduced by John the Baptist.
  • Launonen, Lari Tapani (2018)
    “Religion is natural” has become a common thesis in Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR). The claim, however, is often ambiguous. This paper seeks to clarify and evaluate the naturalness of religion thesis that flows from CSR theories pointing to the optimal compatibility between recurrent religious concepts and the ordinary operations of the human mind. For the naturalness thesis to be scientifically valid, some criteria for naturalness are needed. Robert McCauley has suggested four typical marks for natural cognitive systems, but his account suffers from the inability to point to any causal operations in human development responsible for the naturalness of religion. Even if naturalness is a problematic concept, the science behind it may nevertheless carry interesting implications. First, since Christian theologians have traditionally viewed man as naturally religious, CSR offers new material for theological considerations. Second, it may also help us make predictions about the future of religion. Third, it has been argued that the naturalness thesis offers support for freedom of religion.
  • Launonen, Lari; Mullins, R. T. (2021)
    The cognitive science of religion (CSR) indicates that belief in supernatural agents, or “gods”, is underpinned by maturationally natural cognitive biases and systems (Natural Religion). It is unclear, however, whether theism is natural. Does the god concept that our cognitive biases and systems give rise to approximate theism? In other words, is Natural Religion “theism-tracking”? As Christian theologians have different views of what God is like, we argue that the answer depends partly on one’s model of God. We discuss two models: classical theism and open theism. We argue that classical theism is far from being natural. The classical divine attributes are very hard to comprehend. Moreover, people naturally conceptualize God as a special sort of person, but the classical God strongly deviates from our cognitive expectations about persons. Open theism is much more natural. However, recent findings in CSR challenge the suggestion that Natural Religion tracks open theism. The possibility that we are “born idolaters” rather than “born believers” might undermine the Christian doctrine of general revelation and attempts to make CSR compatible with theology.