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Are People Born to be Believers, or are Gods Born to be Believed?

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image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

Proposals that god-belief is an innate capacity of all humanity have not been confirmed by empirical studies. Scientific disciplines presently lean against god-belief’s innateness. Perhaps religion should be relieved that belief in gods is not innate. Intuitive cognitive functions supporting god-belief offer little convergence upon any god. Religious pluralism back to the Stone Age displays no consensus either. Any cognition for god-belief can only be deemed as mostly or entirely misleading. Theology has tried to forestall that skeptical judgment, by dictating what counts as authentic religiosity and who enjoys a valid idea of god. Justin Barrett exemplifies this theological interference with scientific inquiry. Contorting the anthropology and cognitive science of religion too far, his quest for a primal natural religion won’t match up with his search for intuitive conceptions of god. His quest for god-belief’s innateness devolves into theological dogmatism, deepening doubts that scientific theories of religion will validate god-belief.

Affiliations: 1: Philosophy and Science Education, Graduate School of Education University at Buffalo


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