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Cognitive science and religious belief


Wood, G, Cognitive science and religious belief, Philosophy Compass, 6, (10) pp. 734-745. ISSN 1747-9991 (2011) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1747-9991.2011.00434.x


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.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:cognitive science, religious belief, evolutionary psychology, evolved cognitive system,
Research Division:Philosophy and Religious Studies
Research Group:Philosophy
Research Field:Philosophy of religion
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in philosophy and religious studies
UTAS Author:Wood, G (Dr Graham Wood)
ID Code:73782
Year Published:2011
Deposited By:Philosophy
Deposited On:2011-10-26
Last Modified:2017-10-31
Downloads:10 View Download Statistics

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