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Minimal Intellectualism and Gods as Intuitive Regress-Blockers

Chapter
Part of the New Approaches to the Scientific Study of Religion book series (NASR, volume 4)

Abstract

What is the role of explanation in shaping and sustaining religious beliefs, if any? This chapter tackles this question from the perspective of the framework known as the Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR). CSR has been generally dismissive of ‘intellectualist’ approaches to religion emphasizing the explanatory role of religious beliefs. Here, I argue, first, that some of the arguments against intellectualism found in the CSR literature are overstated and that some ‘minimally intellectualist’ propositions concerning religion are not only compatible with CSR but are indeed implicit in some of its core, ‘foundational’ theories. Secondly, I look at ultimate explanations of origins, arguing that, with respect to the latter, explanations appealing to the will and actions of minded agents have an intuitive advantage vs. other kinds of explanations, and that, again, this follows from core CSR theories. Gods, I argue, are better regress-blockers than, say, inanimate causes, and this follows from the deeply rooted intuitions about basic ontological kinds which CSR theorizes about.

Keywords

Cognitive science of religion Minimally counterintuitive concepts Regress stopper Intellectualism Religion as explanation Pascal Boyer 

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of RoehamptonLondonUK

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