Download Can Science Explain Religion?: The Cognitive Science Debate by James W. Jones PDF

By James W. Jones

The "New Atheist" circulation 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 spiritual trust supplies them the ultimate guns of their conflict opposed to irrationality and superstition. What was a trickle of study papers scattered in really expert medical journals has now develop into a torrent of books, articles, and remark within the renowned media urgent the case that the cognitive technological know-how of faith can eventually satisfy the enlightenment dream of shrinking faith into insignificance, if no longer disposing of it altogether. James W. Jones argues that those claims are demonstrably fake. He notes that cognitive technology examine is religiously impartial; it may be deployed in lots of other ways in terms of the particular trust in and perform of faith: to undermine it, to easily learn it, and to aid it. those various techniques, Jones indicates, mirror the history assumptions and viewpoints dropped at the translation of the information.

The objective of this publication isn't really to protect both a basic non secular outlook or a selected spiritual culture, yet to make the case that whereas there's a lot to benefit from the cognitive clinical learn of faith, makes an attempt to take advantage of 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, offering an accessibly written, persuasive account of why they aren't convincing.

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Guthrie argues that humans have evolved a tendency to look for and focus on beings who appear to be intentional agents with minds analogous to human minds. It makes a certain amount of intuitive sense that we would evolve a tendency to attend to, and perhaps overattend to, other humans and other human-like beings, that is agents with minds, in the service of survival and reproduction. Hence, for survival it would be better to “overdetect” agents, even when their existence was possible but not certain, than to ignore their presence.

Bering further claims that having such afterlife beliefs was selected for in the course of evolution because such beliefs promote prosocial behavior. People who believe that gods, ghosts, or ancestor spirits are watching them are probably more inclined to behave in ways that promote social cohesion. Such behavior is also good for their social standing and so makes them more attractive sexual partners. Bering calls this a “supernatural punishment theory” which emphasizes how ideas of constantly observing, morally concerned, and potentially punishing gods or spirits would make people more focused on their reputations.

This reveals something fundamental about the process of explaining and proving that is illustrated clearly by Euclidean geometry. What we prove depends on what we cannot prove. If I say that I will not accept anything without evidence, proof, or warrant, I am immediately caught in an infinite regress of evidence for evidence, proofs for proofs, warrants for warrants. Obviously I do not employ an infinite regress of proofs following other proofs every time I make a claim. At some place I stop that potentially infinite regress.

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