Zygon 55 (1):185-206 (2020)

Hans Van Eyghen
VU University Amsterdam
Multiple authors in cognitive science of religion (CSR) argue that there is something about the human mind that disposes it to form religious beliefs. The dispositions would result from the internal architecture of the mind. In this article, I will argue that this disposition can be explained by various forms of (cultural) learning and not by the internal architecture of the mind. For my argument, I draw on new developments in predictive processing. I argue that CSR theories argue for the naturalness of religious belief in at least three ways; religious beliefs are adaptive; religious beliefs are the product of cognitive biases; and religious beliefs are the product of content biases. I argue that all three ideas can be integrated in a predictive coding framework where religious belief is learned and hence not caused by the internal architecture of the mind. I argue that the framework makes it doubtful that there are modular cognitive mechanisms for religious beliefs and that the human mind has a fixed proneness for religious belief. I also argue that a predictive coding framework can incorporate a larger role for cultural processes and allows for more flexibility.
Keywords born believers  cognitive science of religion  naturalness of religious belief  predictive processing
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/zygo.12575
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 72,577
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

What Do Predictive Coders Want?Colin Klein - 2018 - Synthese 195 (6):2541-2557.

View all 16 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Predictive Coding and Religious Belief.Hans Van Eyghen - 2018 - Filosofia Unisinos 19 (3).
Does Cognitive Science of Religion Undermine Religious Belief?Rezkalla Paul - 2015 - Философия И Космология 14 (1):214-220.
Introduction.Hans Van Eyghen, Rik Peels & Gijsbert Van den Brink - 2018 - In Hans Van Eyghen, Rik Peels & Gijsbert BVan den Brink (eds.), New Developments in the Cognitive Science of Religion - The Rationality of Religious Belief. Dordrecht: Springer.
Justification of Science Etc.Michael C. Banner - 1992 - Oxford University Press UK.
Is Supernatural Belief Unreliably Formed?Hans Van Eyghen - 2018 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 85 (2):125-148.
The Meaning of Belief: Religion From an Atheist’s Point of View.Tim Crane - 2017 - Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
26 ( #443,675 of 2,533,615 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #389,998 of 2,533,615 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes