Preface: Research Approaches to the Study of Religion
author: Lluis Oviedo,
Preface to the special issue ‘Research Approaches to the Study of Religion’. First of all we pay attention to cognitive studies of religion and compare theology and philosophy of religion.
Religion's Possible Role in Facilitating
Eusocial Human Societies.
A Behavioral Biology (Ethological) Perspective
author: Jay R. Feierman,
Eusociality is the most successful animal social system on earth. It is found in many social insects, a few crustacean species, and only three vertebrates: two African naked mole rats and human beings. Eusociality, so unusual for a vertebrate, is one of main factors leading to human beings becoming the most successful land vertebrate on earth by almost any measure. We are also unique in being the only land vertebrate with religions. Could the two be related? This article will present evidence, illustrated primarily with Judaism and Christianity, that these two seemingly unrelated social systems ̶ eusociality and religion ̶ that correlate temporally in our evolution, are possibly related. Evidence will also be presented that a (mostly) non-reproducing exemplar caste of celibate clergy was a eusocial-facilitating aspect of religion in western social evolution.
Religious Belief is Not Natural.
Why Cognitive Science of Religion
Does Not Show That Religious
Belief is Trustworthy
author: Hans Van Eyghen,
It is widely acknowledged that the new emerging discipline cognitive science of religion has a bearing on how to think about the epistemic status of religious beliefs. Both defenders and opponents of the rationality of religious belief have used cognitive theories of religion to argue for their point. This paper will look at the defender-side of the debate. I will discuss an often used argument in favor of the trustworthiness of religious beliefs, stating that cognitive science of religion shows that religious beliefs are natural and natural beliefs ought to be trusted in the absence of counterevidence. This argument received its most influential defense from Justin Barrett in a number of papers, some in collaboration with Kelly James Clark. I will discuss their version of the argument and argue that it fails because the natural beliefs discovered by cognitive scientists of religion are not the religious beliefs of the major world religions. A survey of the evidence from cognitive science of religion will show that cognitive science does show that other beliefs come natural and that these can thus be deemed trustworthy in the absence of counterevidence. These beliefs are teleological beliefs, afterlife beliefs and animistic theistic beliefs.