The Cognitive Science of Religion: A Modified Theist Response

David Leech, Aku Visala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Critics of religion have recently claimed that the natural explanation of religious-belief formation offered by the Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR) is incompatible with theism. Defenders of theism have in turn responded to these claims by arguing for the compatibility of the CSR account with theism. In this paper we propose a modified defence of the compatibility of the CSR account with theism which supplements extant theistic arguments by drawing out the implications of certain points about the nature of CSR explanation which have so far been left relatively unexploited. In developing this defence, we argue that extant atheistic and theistic readings of the CSR can be understood as accepting certain presuppositions, especially about the relative centrality of the CSR account in explaining religious belief, which, we argue, would be detrimental to the theist case were they actually intended, and which should be clearly rejected. We suggest that the theist should argue explicitly from the nature of CSR explanation to its compatibility with theism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301–316
Number of pages16
JournalReligious Studies
Volume47
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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