Modern Believing

RELIGION AND THE BRAIN: WHAT CAN SCIENCE TELL US ABOUT BELIEF IN GOD?

Modern Believing (2016), 57, (2), 163–173.

Abstract

This paper brings religion into dialogue with three prominent current theories that purport to explain religion, and shows why none of them undermines the truth or integrity of religion.

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Atran, S. (2002) In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press. In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion Google Scholar

Barrett, J. (2011) Cognitive Science, Religion and Theology: From Human Minds to Divine Minds. West Conshohocken: Templeton Press. Cognitive Science, Religion and Theology: From Human Minds to Divine Minds Google Scholar

Barrett, J. (2012a) Born Believers: The Science of Children’s Religious Belief. New York: Free Press. Born Believers: The Science of Children’s Religious Belief Google Scholar

Barrett, J. (2012b) ‘The naturalness of religion and the unnaturalness of theology’, in Is Religion Natural? D. Evers, M. Fuller, A. Jackelen and T. Smedes (eds.). London: T&T Clark, pp. 3–23. The naturalness of religion and the unnaturalness of theology Is Religion Natural? 3 23 Google Scholar

Blackmore, S. (2000) The Meme Machine. Oxford: Oxford University Press. The Meme Machine Google Scholar

Boyer, P. (2002) Religion Explained. London: Vintage Books. Religion Explained Google Scholar

Dawkins, R. (1989) The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press. The Selfish Gene Google Scholar

Dennett, D. (2007) Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. London: Penguin. Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon Google Scholar

Edmonds, B. (2002) ‘Three challenges for the survival of memetics’, Journal of Memetics. 6, 2, pp. 45–50. Three challenges for the survival of memetics Journal of Memetics 6 45 50 Google Scholar

Edmonds, B. (2005) ‘The revealed poverty of the gene-meme analogy: why memetics per se has failed to produce substantive results’, Journal of Memetics. 9, 1, pp. 1–4. The revealed poverty of the gene-meme analogy: why memetics per se has failed to produce substantive results Journal of Memetics 9 1 4 Google Scholar

Freud, S. (1991[1927]) ‘The future of an illusion’, in The Penguin Freud Library, volume 12. London: Penguin, pp. 179–241. The future of an illusion The Penguin Freud Library 179 241 Google Scholar

Harrison, P. (2015) The Territories of Science and Religion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. The Territories of Science and Religion Google Scholar

Newberg, A. (2010) Principles of Neurotheology. Farnham: Ashgate. Principles of Neurotheology Google Scholar

Peacocke, A. (1993) Theology for a Scientific Age (enlarged edition). London: SCM Press. Theology for a Scientific Age Google Scholar

Peedu, I. (in press) ‘The trouble with words: concepts of religion in the cognitive science of religion and the role of emotions’, in Issues in Science and Theology: Do Emotions Shape the World? D. Evers, M. Fuller, A. Runehov and K.-W. Saether (eds.). Springer. The trouble with words: concepts of religion in the cognitive science of religion and the role of emotions Issues in Science and Theology: Do Emotions Shape the World? Google Scholar

Purzycki, B. G., Haque O. S. and Sosis, R. ‘Extending evolutionary accounts of religion beyond the mind: religions as adaptive systems’ in Evolution, Religion and Cognitive Science. F. Watts and L. Turner (eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 74–91. Extending evolutionary accounts of religion beyond the mind: religions as adaptive systems Evolution, Religion and Cognitive Science 74 91 Google Scholar

Pyysiäinen, I. (2014) ‘The cognitive science of religion’, in Evolution, Religion and Cognitive Science. F. Watts and L. Turner (eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 21–37. The cognitive science of religion Evolution, Religion and Cognitive Science 21 37 Google Scholar

Ruse, M. (2014) ‘Biological evolutionary explanations of religious belief’, in Evolution, Religion and Cognitive Science. F. Watts and L. Turner (eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 38–55. Biological evolutionary explanations of religious belief Evolution, Religion and Cognitive Science 38 55 Google Scholar

Schloss, J. (2009) ‘Introduction’, in The Believing Primate, J. Schloss, and M. Murray (eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 1–25. Introduction The Believing Primate 1 25 Google Scholar

Sosis, R. and C. Alcorta (2003) ‘Signaling, solidarity, and the sacred: the evolution of religious behaviour’. Evolutionary Anthropology. 12, 6, pp. 264–74. Signaling, solidarity, and the sacred: the evolution of religious behaviour Evolutionary Anthropology 12 264 74 Google Scholar

Spencer, N. (2014) Atheists: The Origin of the Species. London: Bloomsbury. Atheists: The Origin of the Species Google Scholar

Turner, L. (2014) ‘Neither friends nor enemies: the complex relationship between cognitive and humanistic accounts of religious belief’, in Evolution, Religion and Cognitive Science. F. Watts and L. Turner (eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 152–72. Neither friends nor enemies: the complex relationship between cognitive and humanistic accounts of religious belief Evolution, Religion and Cognitive Science 152 72 Google Scholar

Van Huysteen, W. (2014) ‘From empathy to embodied faith? interdisciplinary perspectives on the evolution of religion’, in Evolution, Religion and Cognitive Science. F. Watts and L. Turner (eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 132–51. From empathy to embodied faith? interdisciplinary perspectives on the evolution of religion Evolution, Religion and Cognitive Science 132 51 Google Scholar

Visala, A. (2011) Naturalism, Theism and the Cognitive Study of Religion: Religion explained? Farnham: Ashgate. Naturalism, Theism and the Cognitive Study of Religion: Religion explained? Google Scholar

Watts, F. (2014) ‘Religion and the emergence of differentiated cognition’, in Evolution, Religion and Cognitive Science. F. Watts and L. Turner (eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 109–31. Religion and the emergence of differentiated cognition Evolution, Religion and Cognitive Science 109 31 Google Scholar

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Details

Author details

Fuller, Michael