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Evolution, Religion, and Cognitive ScienceCritical and Constructive Essays$
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Fraser Watts and Léon P. Turner

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199688081

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199688081.001.0001

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The Cognitive Science of Religion

The Cognitive Science of Religion

(p.21) 2 The Cognitive Science of Religion
Evolution, Religion, and Cognitive Science

Ilkka Pyysiäinen

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents the basic tenets of the cognitive science of religion and its development in a specifically evolutionary context. A distinction is made between actual, largely intuitive religiosity and theologically correct religion. Agency and agent detection as the cognitive basis of beliefs about supernatural agents are then discussed from an evolutionary perspective. The role of theistic religions as facilitating cooperation in large groups is also discussed. CSR is characterized as a forum where experimental psychologists, evolutionary theorists, anthropologists, and religion scholars can meet, exchange ideas, and create multidisciplinary projects. The chapter concludes by briefly outlining some connections between different areas of study in CSR.

Keywords:   intuitive ontology, ritual, agent concepts, religious transmission, by-product, adaptation, theological correctness, minimal counterintuitiveness, reductionism

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