Blaming God for our pain: Human suffering and the divine mind
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Believing in God requires not only a leap of faith but also an extension of people’s normal capacity to perceive the minds of others. Usually, people perceive minds of all kinds by trying to understand their conscious experience (what it is like to be them) and their agency (what they can do). Although humans are perceived to have both agency and experience, humans appear to see God as possessing agency, but not experience. God’s unique mind is due, the authors suggest, to the uniquely moral role He occupies. In this article, the authors propose that God is seen as the ultimate moral agent, the entity people blame and praise when they receive anomalous harm and help. Support for this proposition comes from research on mind perception, morality, and moral typecasting. Interestingly, although people perceive God as the author of salvation, suffering seems to evoke even more attributions to the divine.
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Konika Banerjee & Paul Bloom (2014). Why Did This Happen to Me? Religious Believers’ and Non-Believers’ Teleological Reasoning About Life Events. Cognition 133 (1):277-303.
Ara Norenzayan & Will M. Gervais (2013). The Origins of Religious Disbelief. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 17 (1):20-25.
Eric Mandelbaum & David Ripley (2012). Explaining the Abstract/Concrete Paradoxes in Moral Psychology: The NBAR Hypothesis. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 3 (3):351-368.
Kurt Gray & Chelsea Schein (2012). Two Minds Vs. Two Philosophies: Mind Perception Defines Morality and Dissolves the Debate Between Deontology and Utilitarianism. [REVIEW] Review of Philosophy and Psychology 3 (3):405-423.
Benjamin G. Purzycki, Daniel N. Finkel, John Shaver, Nathan Wales, Adam B. Cohen & Richard Sosis (2012). What Does God Know? Supernatural Agents' Access to Socially Strategic and Non-Strategic Information. Cognitive Science 36 (5):846-869.
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