This book provides a critical philosophical analysis of the claim that contemporary cognitive approaches to religion undermine theistic beliefs. Recent scientific work into the evolution and cognition of religion has been driven by and interpreted in terms of a certain kind of philosophical and methodological naturalism. The book argues that such naturalism is not necessary for the cognitive study of religion and develops an alternative philosophical and methodological framework. This alternative framework opens the cognitive study of religion to theological and philosophical considerations and clarifies its relationship to other approaches to religious phenomena. This unique contribution to discussions regarding the philosophical and theological implications of the cognitive study of religion summarizes the so far fragmentary discussion, exposes its underlying assumptions, and develops a novel framework for further discussion.
Contents: Introduction: the cognitive theories of religion; Naturalism and religion: religion as a product of material causes; The naturalness of religion: basic theories; The strict naturalist programme and the naturalistic study of religion; A critique of the strict naturalist programme and a novel proposal; Theism and the naturalness of religion; Bibliography; Index.
About the Author: Visiting Fellow, Centre for Anthropology and Mind, University of Oxford, UK
Reviews: 'Visala’s careful analyses are a breath of fresh air…' Reviews in Science and Religion'The prominence of the issues addressed, and the care and rigour with which they are examined here, make this a valuable contribution to the literature.' Journal of Theological Studies‘…a fascinating read with its clear prose and concise argumentation…’ Temenos
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