Philosophy Compass 6 (10):734-745 (2011)
AbstractThe cognitive science of religion draws on insights from evolutionary psychology, and offers explanations of religious belief based on natural cognitive processes. This article examines a number of competing explanations of religious belief by considering it as a solution to the challenge of cooperation. The challenge of stopping individuals cheating within a cooperative group has been a problem throughout humanity’s evolutionary history. Empirical evidence drawn from fields such as anthropology and psychology suggests that religious beliefs are part of an evolved cognitive system that motivates individuals to cooperate with other members of their group. Three possible evolutionary accounts, the memetic, by‐product, and adaptation accounts, are considered as evolved solutions to the challenge of cooperation
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Citations of this work
Problems of Religious Luck: Assessing the Limits of Reasonable Religious Disagreement.Guy Axtell - 2019 - Lanham, MD, USA & London, UK: Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield.
Problems of Religious Luck, Chapter 6: The Pattern Stops Here?Guy Axtell - forthcoming - In Problems of Religious Luck: Assessing the Limits of Reasonable Religious Disagreement.
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The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature.William James - 1929 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion.Scott Atran - 2002 - Oup Usa.
Adaptation and Natural Selection: A Critique of Some Current Evolutionary Thought.William C. Wimsatt - 1970 - Philosophy of Science 37 (4):620-623.