Minds, Other Minds, and the Minds of Gods
This chapter examines some evolved mental mechanisms that play key roles in the representation of god concepts. The incorrigible operation of an Agency Detection Device (ADD) and a Theory of Mind Mechanism (ToMM) helps explain why people naturally entertain religious ideas. God concepts are parasitic on mental mechanisms designed for different though functionally related purposes. The study of these and other predispositions of thought also reveal what, from a cognitive perspective, “gods” really are — easily anthropomorphized thinking intentional agents. The real attributes of gods align with the mind’s intuitive knowledge bases and the natural inferences they produce rather than with the abstract, theological attributes taught in religious doctrine. At the same time, the counterintuitive properties of god concepts account for their widespread transmission.
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