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Theory and Criticism: The Cognitive Science of Religion

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image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

After describing what the author regards as important and commendable characteristics of the current cognitive science of religion, the author contends that future theorizing ought to take account of mounting criticisms of cognitive-evolutionary theories of religion. That is especially so when criticism recognizes the great complexity of what we conventionally mean by the term “religion” and when it suggests that monochromatic theorizing is likely to prove inadequate for explaining the existence of polychromatic phenomena. Indeed, monochromatic perspectives tend to confine or impoverish our understandings of religion. Future theorizing about religion should aim for theories that better reflect the complexity of the phenomena that they purport to explain. One possibility, based on an analogy to epigenetic theorizing, is described by way of providing an example.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Anthropology, Brandeis University Waltham, MA 02454 USA, Email:


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