Evolution, Religion, and Cognitive Science: Critical and Constructive Essays

Hardcover | April 20, 2014

EditorFraser Watts, Leon P. Turner

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The cognitive science of religion is an inherently heterogeneous subject, incorporating theory and data from anthropology, psychology, sociology, evolutionary biology, and philosophy of mind amongst other subjects. One increasingly influential area of research in this field is concernedspecifically with exploring the relationship between the evolution of the human mind, the evolution of culture in general, and the origins and subsequent development of religion. This research has exerted a strong influence on many areas of religious studies over the last twenty years, but, forsome, the so-called "evolutionary cognitive science of religion" remains a deeply problematic enterprise. This book's primary aim is to engage critically and constructively with this complex and diverse body of research from a wide range of perspectives. To these ends, the book brings together authors from a variety of relevant disciplines, in the thorough exploration of many of the key debates in thefield. These include, for example: can certain aspects of religion be considered adaptive, or are they evolutionary by-products? Is the evolutionary cognitive science of religion compatible with theism? Is the evolutionary cognitive approach compatible with other, more traditional approaches to thestudy of religion? To what extent is religion shaped by cultural evolutionary processes? Is the evolutionary account of the mind that underpins the evolutionary cognitive approach the best or only available account? Written in accessible language, with an introductory chapter by Ilkka Pyssiainen, aleading scholar in the field, this book is a valuable resource for specialists, undergraduate and graduate students, and newcomers to the evolutionary cognitive science of religion.

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The cognitive science of religion is an inherently heterogeneous subject, incorporating theory and data from anthropology, psychology, sociology, evolutionary biology, and philosophy of mind amongst other subjects. One increasingly influential area of research in this field is concernedspecifically with exploring the relationship betwe...

Fraser Watts is Fellow of Queens' College at the University of Cambridge, UK. Leon P. Turner is Senior Research Associate at the University of Cambridge, UK.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pagesPublished:April 20, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199688087

ISBN - 13:9780199688081

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Table of Contents

1. Leon Turner: Introduction: Pluralism and Complexity in the Evolutionary Cognitive Science of Religion2. Ilkka Pyysiainen: The Cognitive Science of Religion3. Michael Ruse: Biologically Evolutionary Explanations of Religious Belief4. Aku Visala: The Evolution of Divine and Human Minds: Evolutionary Psychology, the Cognitive Study of Religion and Theism.5. Benjamin Grant Purzycki, Omar Sultan Haque, and Richard Sosis: Extending Evolutionary Accounts of Religion beyond the Mind: Religions as Adaptive Systems6. Nathaniel F. Barrett: Skilful Engagement and the "Effort after Value": An Axiological Theory of the Origins of Religion7. Fraser Watts: Religion and the Emergence of Differentiated Cognition8. Wentzel van Huyssteen: From Empathy to Embodied Faith? Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Evolution of Religion9. Leon Turner: Neither Friends nor Enemies: The Complex Relationship Between Cognitive and Humanistic Accounts of Religious Belief10. Timothy Jenkins: The Cognitive Science of Religion from an Anthropological Perspective: Nature and History Reconciled?11. Leslie Newson and Peter Richerson: Religion: the Dynamics of Cultural Adaptations12. William Sims Bainbridge: Artificial Intelligence Models of Religious Evolution13. Malcolm Jeeves: Concluding Reflections