The cognitive science of religion: Implications for morality

John Teehan


A cognitive scientific approach to religion reveals the moral role of religion in human evolutionary history and provides insight into the continuing influence of religion in human affairs. While morality can be understood and justified apart from any religious foundation, religion cannot be separated from its moral function. After setting out the evolved cognitive bases of religious beliefs and behaviors, a model for the nexus between religion and morality is developed. From this it follows that religions constitute moral worldviews that emerge from and tap into deep moral and emotional instincts. This makes religion, and moral worldviews more generally, profoundly important, but also makes them dangerously problematic. A case study of the intersection of religion, race, and politics in contemporary American presidential politics will be used to explicate these ideas.

Keywords: religion, morality, cognitive science, evolution, worldviews.

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ISSN: 1984-8234 - Best viewed in Mozilla Firefox

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License [Updated on September 23, 2016].

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