Why Religion is Natural and Science is Not

Paperback | October 8, 2013

byRobert N. McCauley

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The battle between religion and science, competing methods of knowing ourselves and our world, has been raging for many centuries. Now scientists themselves are looking at cognitive foundations of religion - and arriving at some surprising conclusions. Over the course of the past two decades, scholars have employed insights gleaned from cognitive science, evolutionary biology, and related disciplines to illuminate the study of religion. In Why Religion is Natural and Science Is Not, Robert N. McCauley, one of the founding fathers of the cognitivescience of religion, argues that our minds are better suited to religious belief than to scientific inquiry. Drawing on the latest research and illustrating his argument with commonsense examples, McCauley argues that religion has existed for many thousands of years in every society because thekinds of explanations it provides are precisely the kinds that come naturally to human minds. Science, on the other hand, is a much more recent and rare development because it reaches radical conclusions and requires a kind of abstract thinking that only arises consistently under very specificsocial conditions. Religion makes intuitive sense to us, while science requires a lot of work. McCauley then draws out the larger implications of these findings. The naturalness of religion, he suggests, means that science poses no real threat to it, while the unnaturalness of science puts it in asurprisingly precarious position. Rigorously argued and elegantly written, this provocative book will appeal to anyone interested in the ongoing debate between religion and science, and in the nature and workings of the human mind.

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The battle between religion and science, competing methods of knowing ourselves and our world, has been raging for many centuries. Now scientists themselves are looking at cognitive foundations of religion - and arriving at some surprising conclusions. Over the course of the past two decades, scholars have employed insights gleaned fro...

Robert N. McCauley is William Rand Kenan Jr. University Professor and Director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture at Emory University. He is the co-author of Rethinking Religion and Bringing Ritual to Mind.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:October 8, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199341540

ISBN - 13:9780199341542

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Table of Contents

1. Natural Cognition2. Maturational Naturalness3. Unnatural Science4. Natural Religion5. Surprising ConsequencesReferences

Editorial Reviews

"One of the pioneers of the cognitive science of religion, adds insight to the interdisciplinary discussion in this provocatively titled work .... McCauley's work is erudite, precise, well argued." --Library Journal