Publication Type:


Robert E. Sears
TCA College
Issue number: 
No.4 (Vol.54)

This paper offers a brief introduction, summary, and commentary on the cognitive science of religion (CSR), a burgeoning, interdisciplinary field of study that examines the way mental resources and predispositions facilitate religious beliefs and behavior. This presentation of CSR devotes special attention to research on teleological bias, agency detection, and counterintuitive concepts; moreover, critical discussions of mystical experience and god concepts ensue from treatments of the latter two topics. Research on teleological bias, agency detection, and counterintuitiveness supports the basic position that religious cognition is natural, although distinctive rationales are associated with each topic of investigation. While the major focus of this article is epistemological – how religious thought develops and is sustained – the conclusion briefly addresses the ontological significance of basic CSR findings.

cognitive science of religion, teleological bias, hypersensitive agency detection, mystical experience, counterintuitive concepts, God concepts, religious epistemology

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