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The Believing PrimateScientific, Philosophical, and Theological Reflections on the Origin of Religion$
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Jeffrey Schloss and Michael Murray

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199557028

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199557028.001.0001

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Cognitive Science, Religion, and Theology

Cognitive Science, Religion, and Theology

(p.76) 3 Cognitive Science, Religion, and Theology
The Believing Primate

Justin Barrett

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores why belief in superhuman agents (gods) is historically and culturally common by engaging the natural properties of human thinking to function in ordinary natural and social environments. It starts by explaining what belief is, and its two kinds: reflective (provides fair representations of what someone believes in) and non-reflective (operates without conscious awareness in nature). It discusses why people believe in gods, and how god concepts arise. It also talks about the advantages of having these concepts; how they are connected to fortune, misfortune, and morality; and why people believe in a particular divine.

Keywords:   cognitive science, gods, god concept, belief, reflective belief, non-reflective belief

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