Adaptationist Accounts Can Tell Us More About Religion Than Cognitive Accounts Can

  • Konrad SzocikEmail author
Part of the New Approaches to the Scientific Study of Religion book series (NASR, volume 4)


Religious beliefs can be explained in two different ways, cognitive and adaptationist. Each of them is another kind of explanation, one is proximate and the other ultimate. Each of them provides the other with a specific status for religious beliefs, such as by-product or adaptation. However, there is no clarity of how cognition itself could be religiously biased and how the religious/theistic approach could work as a default cognitive mode, as Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR) suggests. I would like to criticize cognitive assumptions in the study of religion and show how adaptationist accounts are preferable. I specifically focus on the functional context of religious components, the social and psychological applications. I suggest how discussing about a cognitive basis does not matter in these fields and the cognitive account cannot explain the ubiquity of religious components that lie in their function, rather than the alleged connection with cognition.


Cognitive science of religion Adaptationist account Evolution Natural selection Proximate explanation Ultimate explanation 



Many thanks to Adam Pokusa for his useful comments.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Information Technology and Management in RzeszowRzeszowPoland

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