Does Cognitive Science of Religion Undermine Religious Belief?


In this paper, I discuss what Cognitive Science of Religion is and what its implications are for theism and the veracity of religious belief. Findings in CSR, and its counterpart Evolutionary Psychology, aim to explain the origin of religious belief. Some critics of religion, however, brandish the findings of CSR in support of their agenda. Their arguments attempt to either argue against the truth of religion or the justification for religious belief. I will argue that neither of these two kinds of arguments accomplishes its goal. Using CSR to falsify religious belief commits the genetic fallacy. The evolutionary debunking argument for undermining justification for religious belief is a more sophisticated approach, but it fails on account of making too many unjustified assumptions. I outline three brief responses to the challenge of unjustified religious belief.

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Paul Rezkalla
Oxford University

References found in this work

A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value.Sharon Street - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 127 (1):109-166.
Crossing the Milvian Bridge: When Do Evolutionary Explanations of Belief Debunk Belief?Paul E. Griffiths & John S. Wilkins - 2015 - In Phillip R. Sloan, Gerald McKenny & Kathleen Eggleson (eds.), Darwin in the Twenty-First Century: Nature, Humanity, and God. University of Notre Dame Press. pp. 201-231.
Religious Belief as an Evolutionary Accident.Paul Bloom & Osman Zahid Çifçi - 2015 - Beytulhikme An International Journal of Philosophy 5 (1):163.

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