By James W. Jones
The "New Atheist" flow of contemporary years has placed the science-versus-religion controversy again at the well known cultural time table. Anti-religious polemicists are confident that the applying of the hot sciences of the brain to non secular trust provides them the ultimate guns of their conflict opposed to irrationality and superstition. What was a trickle of analysis papers scattered in really expert medical journals has now turn into a torrent of books, articles, and observation within the renowned media urgent the case that the cognitive technology of faith can ultimately satisfy the enlightenment dream of shrinking faith into insignificance, if no longer doing away with it altogether. James W. Jones argues that those claims are demonstrably fake. He notes that cognitive technological know-how learn is religiously impartial; it may be deployed in lots of other ways relating to the particular trust in and perform of faith: to undermine it, to easily research it, and to help it. those assorted techniques, Jones indicates, replicate the history assumptions and viewpoints delivered to the translation of the information.
The target of this publication isn't really to safeguard both a basic spiritual outlook or a selected spiritual culture, yet to make the case that whereas there's a lot to profit from the cognitive clinical examine of faith, makes an attempt to exploit it to "explain" faith are exaggerated and erroneous. Drawing on clinical learn and logical argument Can technological know-how clarify faith? directly confronts the claims of those debunkers of faith, supplying an accessibly written, persuasive account of why they aren't convincing.
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Extra info for Can Science Explain Religion?: The Cognitive Science Debate
Clearly, relatively minor or nonpersonal or ambiguous stimuli can evoke attributions of personal agency, especially when one is primed for it; but there is questioning even within the CSR community about how much explanatory power regarding religion that single, hypothesized cognitive process really has. Guthrie’s theory points to a single cognitive structure that explains the origin of belief in the supernatural agents that Ex planat ions 3 3 populate the religions of the world. But explaining religion requires more than explaining the origin of the idea of god, or even explaining why the idea of god or some other supernatural power is compelling.
There are two important implications of these types of scientific models about religion. First, they presuppose that all religious thinking and experiencing, like all human thought and experience, is neurologically and cognitively mediated. Every experience, thought, or feeling comes to us through our brains and our cognitive processing systems. This is a necessary working assumption in all cognitive and neuroscience. If some aspect of human existence is going to be studied scientifically, it must show up on brain scans or in laboratory experiments studying how the mind organizes and processes information.
I see no reason to dispute that. The question I want to discuss is, given that the findings of cognitive science are “scientific” in some legitimate sense of that term, what does that tell us about these conclusions and explanations? Three properties or characteristics of all scientific explanations, and of all explanations, are relevant for making sense of and interpreting the findings of the cognitive science of religion: (1) explanations are contextual and constructed against a “background” of assumptions and viewpoints which are judged to be true but are often influenced by our “intuitive” or “tacit” cognitions; (2) explanations are selective; (3) specific explanations perform specific functions.
Can Science Explain Religion?: The Cognitive Science Debate by James W. Jones