Match!

Religious authority and the transmission of abstract god concepts

Published on May 19, 2018in Philosophical Psychology
· DOI :10.1080/09515089.2017.1409888
Nathan Cofnas5
Estimated H-index: 5
(Balliol College)
Abstract
AbstractAccording to the Standard Model account of religion, religious concepts tend to conform to “minimally counterintuitive” schemas. Laypeople may, to varying degrees, verbally endorse the abstract doctrines taught by professional theologians. But, outside the Sunday school exam room, the implicit representations that tend to guide people’s everyday thinking, feeling, and behavior are about minimally counterintuitive entities. According to the Standard Model, these implicit representations are the essential thing to be explained by the cognitive science of religion (CSR). It is argued here that this theoretical orientation of mainstream CSR misses a whole dimension of religiosity—the acceptance of certain religious authorities, that is, the acceptance of other people’s superior expertise. Average believers (especially in doctrinal traditions) tend to accept the authority of religious experts who espouse highly counterintuitive ideas that they (the laypeople) understand in a distorted form, if at all. ...
  • References (37)
  • Citations (1)
📖 Papers frequently viewed together
2014
20 Citations
78% of Scinapse members use related papers. After signing in, all features are FREE.
References37
Newest
#1Andrew ShtulmanH-Index: 15
16 Citations
#1Benjamin Grant Purzycki (UBC: University of British Columbia)H-Index: 12
#2Aiyana K. Willard (UBC: University of British Columbia)H-Index: 10
In this paper, we critically review MCI theory and the evidence supporting it. MCI theory typically posits that religious concepts violate what we call deep inferences, intuitions stemming from our evolved cognitive architecture rather than shallow inferences that are specific and flexible informational units also used for inference-making. We point to serious problems facing the approach, and propose a few corrective measures, avenues for further research, and an alternative view.
31 CitationsSource
#1Aiyana K. Willard (University of Texas at Austin)H-Index: 10
#2Joseph Henrich (Harvard University)H-Index: 60
Last. Ara Norenzayan (UBC: University of British Columbia)H-Index: 40
view all 3 authors...
Cognitive scientists have increasingly turned to cultural transmission to explain the widespread nature of religion. One key hypothesis focuses on memory, proposing that that minimally counterintuitive (MCI) content facilitates the transmission of supernatural beliefs. We propose two caveats to this hypothesis. (1) Memory effects decrease as MCI concepts become commonly used, and (2) people do not believe counterintuitive content readily; therefore additional mechanisms are required to get from ...
10 CitationsSource
#1Joseph HenrichH-Index: 60
Preface ix 1 A Puzzling Primate 1 2 It's Not Our Intelligence 8 3 Lost European Explorers 22 4 How to Make a Cultural Species 34 5 What Are Big Brains For? Or, How Culture Stole Our Guts 54 6 Why Some People Have Blue Eyes 83 7 On the Origin of Faith 97 8 Prestige, Dominance, and Menopause 117 9 In-Laws, Incest Taboos, and Rituals 140 10 Intergroup Competition Shapes Cultural Evolution 166 11 Self-Domestication 185 12 Our Collective Brains 211 13 Communicative Tools with Rules 231 14 Enculturate...
222 Citations
#1Yvan I. RussellH-Index: 5
#2Fernand Gobet (Brunel University London)H-Index: 39
What is ‘counterintuitive’? There is general agreement that it refers to a violation of previously held knowledge, but the precise definition seems to vary with every author and study. The aim of this paper is to deconstruct the notion of ‘counterintuitive’ and provide a more philosophically rigorous definition congruent with the history of psychology, recent experimental work in ‘minimally counterintuitive’ concepts, the science vs. religion debate, and the developmental and evolutionary backgr...
11 CitationsSource
#1Konika Banerjee (Harvard University)H-Index: 6
#2Omar J. Haque (Harvard University)H-Index: 9
Last. Elizabeth S. Spelke (Harvard University)H-Index: 81
view all 3 authors...
Previous research with adults suggests that a catalog of minimally counterintuitive concepts, which underlies supernatural or religious concepts, may constitute a cognitive optimum, and is therefore cognitively encoded and culturally transmitted more successfully than either entirely intuitive concepts or maximally counterintuitive concepts. The current study examines whether children's concept recall similarly is sensitive to the degree of conceptual counterintuitiveness (operationalized as a c...
22 CitationsSource
Abstract The cognitive science of religion tries to explain how human mental architecture canalizes the spread of cultural ideas. Co-evolutionary theories aim at explaining the cultural stability of ideas and practices by constructing models of social behavior. I try to show that both research programs provide useful insights for the construction of mechanical explanations of the mental representation and transmission of religious ideas. Combining cognitive predispositions and their expression i...
5 CitationsSource
#1Daniel Kahneman (Princeton University)H-Index: 115
Daniel Kahneman, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his seminal work in psychology challenging the rational model of judgment and decision making, is one of the world's most important thinkers. His ideas have had a profound impact on many fields - including business, medicine, and politics - but until now, he has never brought together his many years of research in one book. In "Thinking, Fast and Slow", Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the t...
8,084 Citations
#1Vikram K. Jaswal (UVA: University of Virginia)H-Index: 20
How do children resolve conflicts between a self-generated belief and what they are told? Four studies investigated the circumstances under which toddlers would trust testimony that conflicted with their expectations about the physical world. Thirty-month-olds believed testimony that conflicted with a naive bias (Study 1), and they also repeatedly trusted testimony that conflicted with an event they had just seen (Study 2)—even when they had an incentive to ignore the testimony (Study 3). Childr...
71 CitationsSource
It has often been suggested that people's ordinary capacities for understanding the world make use of much the same methods one might find in a formal scientific investigation. A series of recent experimental results offer a challenge to this widely- held view, suggesting that people's moral judgments can actually influence the intuitions they hold both in folk psychology and in causal cognition. The present target article distinguishes two basic approaches to explaining such effects. One approa...
202 CitationsSource
Cited By1
Newest
Anthropologists and religious scholars have long debated the relationship between doctrinal Theravada Buddhism, so-called 'animism', and other folk practices in southeast Asian societies. A variety of models of this relationship have been proposed on the basis of ethnographic evidence. We provide the first psychometric and quantitative evaluation of these competing models, using a new scale developed for this purpose, the Burmese Buddhist Religiosity Scale. Having tested existing hypotheses in o...
Source
#1Thomas Swan (University of Otago)
#2Jamin Halberstadt (University of Otago)H-Index: 31
The Mickey Mouse problem refers to the difficulty in predicting which supernatural agents are capable of eliciting belief and religious devotion. We approached the problem directly by asking participants to invent a “religious” or a “fictional” agent with five supernatural abilities. Compared to fictional agents, religious agents were ascribed a higher proportion of abilities that violated folk psychology or that were ambiguous–violating nonspecific or multiple domains of folk knowledge–and fewe...
Source