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Religion Out of Mind:The Ideology of Cognitive Science and Religion

  • Jeremy Carrette

Abstract

Cognitive theory and neuroscience have provided many useful models for medical and therapeutic understanding, but the problem with any theory is when it oversteps the limits of its domain or operates on unexamined conceptual foundations. Classification and abstract theorizing have always been a part of the academic study of religion and there is no reason to assume that the insights of theoretical psychology cannot offer some useful frameworks of analysis. The use of complex models to represent mental processes that escape physical laws has a value in scientific discourse, as the use of complex models to understand social and economic behavior is a well-established practice. For example, psychologists of religion Robert McCauley and Thomas Lawson believe in theory and its scientific value and embrace a cognitive approach to study sociocultural systems. They have generated, along with others, some intriguing debates in the field of religion. Indeed, they have openly tried to “make trouble,” because of their “frustration with the timidity that characterizes so many scholars’ discussions of religious behaviour” (1990, p. 1). Just over 10 years later, they still felt frustration at the “disdainful proclamations” that discouraged “theoretical precision and empirical responsibility” (2002, p. ix).

Keywords

Cognitive Science Cognitive Theory Religious Ritual Sensory Order Cognitive Revolution 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Kelly Bulkeley 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeremy Carrette

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