The Naturalness of Religion: What It Means and Why It Matters?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

“Religion is natural” has become a common thesis in Cognitive Science
of Religion (CSR). The claim, however, is often ambiguous. This paper seeks to
clarify and evaluate the naturalness of religion thesis that flows from CSR theories pointing to the optimal compatibility between recurrent religious concepts and the ordinary operations of the human mind. For the naturalness thesis to be scientifically valid, some criteria for naturalness are needed. Robert McCauley has suggested four typical marks for natural cognitive systems, but his account suffers from the inability to point to any causal operations in human development responsible for the naturalness of religion. Even if naturalness is a problematic concept, the science behind it may nevertheless carry interesting implications. First, since Christian theologians have traditionally viewed man as naturally religious, CSR offers new material for theological considerations. Second, it may also help us make predictions about the future of religion. Third, it has been argued that the naturalness thesis offers support for freedom of religion.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNeue Zeitschrift für systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie.
Volume60
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)84-102
Number of pages19
ISSN0028-3517
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 611 Philosophy
  • Cognitive Science of Religion
  • Anthropology
  • Theology

Cite this

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title = "The Naturalness of Religion: What It Means and Why It Matters?",
abstract = "“Religion is natural” has become a common thesis in Cognitive Scienceof Religion (CSR). The claim, however, is often ambiguous. This paper seeks toclarify and evaluate the naturalness of religion thesis that flows from CSR theories pointing to the optimal compatibility between recurrent religious concepts and the ordinary operations of the human mind. For the naturalness thesis to be scientifically valid, some criteria for naturalness are needed. Robert McCauley has suggested four typical marks for natural cognitive systems, but his account suffers from the inability to point to any causal operations in human development responsible for the naturalness of religion. Even if naturalness is a problematic concept, the science behind it may nevertheless carry interesting implications. First, since Christian theologians have traditionally viewed man as naturally religious, CSR offers new material for theological considerations. Second, it may also help us make predictions about the future of religion. Third, it has been argued that the naturalness thesis offers support for freedom of religion.",
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The Naturalness of Religion : What It Means and Why It Matters? / Launonen, Lari Tapani.

In: Neue Zeitschrift für systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie., Vol. 60, No. 1, 2018, p. 84-102.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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