“Cognitive Science of Religion and the Rationality of Theistic and Atheistic Beliefs”
One of the questions that have captured the attention of thinkers for millennia is why humans are so inclined to form religious beliefs. Recently, researchers from different academic disciplines have been using findings from areas of study such as cognitive science and evolutionary biology to formulate theories about the origins of religious beliefs. The research programme that has emerged from this interdisciplinary effort has become known as cognitive science of religion (CSR). In the paper I will be presenting at The Brain, the Mind, the Person workshop, I will seek to bring an epistemological perspective on the main findings from CSR. Can the nascent CSR tell us anything about the rationality of theistic and atheistic beliefs? In order to make progress toward answering this main question I will be discussing some of the key aspects of contemporary epistemological literature on the nature of rationality. In particular, I will seek to provide adequate definitions of the main concepts related to the research topic and attempt to specify what sorts of answers should be provided in order to enable us to answer the main research question. What is epistemic rationality? What are the main types of epistemic rationality that have been proposed in the literature? Which of these main types of rationality would be relevant for our research question? What are the main findings from CSR that can help us evaluate the epistemic rationality of theistic and atheistic beliefs? These are some of the questions that I will seek to address in my paper.