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RELS 161 (11)
Chapter

Cognitive science of religion

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Department
Religious Studies
Course Code
RELS 161
Professor
Jason Kelly

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Cognitive science of religion
-hybrid discipline
-focuses on belief including ritual, concludes that theological beliefs only partially
inform peoples actual behaviour and thoughts
- being religious part time
- uses sources such as Daniel Dennett, lakoff and Johnson, steven pinker, pascal
boyer, dan sperber
-religion is performative
- action oriented and thus produces an effect or transformation on the practitioner
- the epidemiology of belief, ideas are contagious, spread like a virus
- religion based on cognitive science is the belief in supernatural or superhman
agency
- also linked to other societal forces as well as politics, economics, land disputes,
access to resources, power, etc
- alan wallance, Buddhists argue that the world as we see it is not the way it realy is,
but rather the way it appears to us and our senses.
- human sense perceptions are limited and prone to false beliefs
- religion is the product of mind brain
- cognitive theorists of religion claim that religion is constrained by the physical
architecture of the human brain, making religion natural and physical
- slone is making religion the object of scientific inquiry, looking to science to
explain religion
- we cannot study gods or supernatural beings, we can onyk study human derived
data about the gods (texts, rituals, etc)
- Thompson values Buddhism for its contemplative techniques and suggests that
Buddhists could help with scientific research for understanding human
consciousness
- goes beyond the 4 fold sceme, offers a fifth model, partnership
- Thompson - neurophenomenology
- influeced by 3 central approaches in cognitive science
1. the computational theory of mind (seeing the mind as a digital machine,
computer, using domain modules for processing information and acquiring
knowledge,
2. connectionism
3. dynamical and embodied approaches
- eg computational approach mind is not a blank slate at birth, but genetically
programmed or predisposed to language
- connectioniast and dynmiacal approaches (neural network models) try to
stimulate the neural activity or achitecture in the brain to explain how it functions

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Description
Cognitive science of religionhybrid discipline focuses on belief including ritual concludes that theological beliefs only partially inform peoples actual behaviour and thoughtsbeing religious part timeuses sources such as Daniel Dennett lakoff and Johnson steven pinker pascal boyer dan sperber religion is performativeaction oriented and thus produces an effect or transformation on the practitionerthe epidemiology of belief ideas are contagious spread like a virusreligion based on cognitive science is the belief in supernatural or superhman agencyalso linked to other societal forces as well as politics economics land disputes access to resources power etcalan wallance Buddhists argue that the world as we see it is not the way it realy is but rather the way it appears to us and our senseshuman sense perceptions are limited and prone to false beliefsreligion is the product of mind braincognitive theorists of religion claim that religion is constrained by the physical architecture of the human brain ma
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