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Cognitive Science, Religion, and TheologyCognitive Science, Religion, and Theology

From Human Minds to Divine Minds

Justin L. Barrett

Narrated by Timothy J. Danko

Available from Audible

Book published by Templeton Press

cognitive scientist Justin L. Barrett offers an accessible overview of this interdisciplinary field, reviews key findings in this area, and discusses the implications of these findings for religious thought and practice.

Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary study of minds and mental activity. As such, it addresses a fundamental feature of what it is to be human. Because religious traditions also address ideas about human nature, along with the nature of the world and the divine, cognitive science can contribute greatly to an understanding of these theological concerns. Barrett shows how direct contributions come from the growing area called cognitive science of religion (CSR), which investigates how human cognitive systems inform and constrain religious thought, experience, and expression. CSR attempts to provide answers to questions such as: Why it is that humans tend to be religious? And why are certain ideas (e.g. the possibility of an afterlife) so cross-culturally recurrent? Barrett also covers the indirect implications that cognitive science has for theology, such as human similarities and differences with the animal world, freedom and determinism, and the relationship between minds and bodies.

Cognitive Science, Religion, and Theology critically reviews the research on these fascinating questions and discusses the many implications that arise from them. In addition, this short volume also offers suggestions for future research, making it ideal not only for those looking for an overview of the field thus far, but also for those seeking a glimpse of where the field might be going in the future.

Justin L. Barrett was recently appointed as Thrive Chair and Professor of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He was director of the Cognition, Religion, and Theology Project at the University of Oxford and a research associate at the Ian Ramsey Centre, also at the University of Oxford. He was the recipient of the William Bier Award in 2010 from the American Psychological Association and is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Academy of Religion, the Association for Psychological Science, and the International Association for the Study of Youth Ministry. He is also the editor of a four-volume series, the Psychology of Religion (Routledge).


“Progress is rapidly accelerating in the cognitive science of religion thanks to the pioneering work of Justin Barrett. In this book he presents an intellectually interesting and empirically edifying exploration into how the human mind is well-tuned to think divine thoughts. Required reading for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of religion as a human phenomenon.”

— Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., professor of psychology, University of California, Davis, and past president of the American Psychological Association‚Äôs Division of the Psychology of Religion

“Kudos to Justin Barrett for this informative tour of cutting-edge cognitive science, for shining its light on religious thinking, and for explaining why a natural cognitive basis for a belief need not discount it. For anyone who wonders why, and how, people believe, Barrett has cogent answers. ”

—‚Äî David G. Myers, Hope College and author, A Friendly Letter to Skeptics: Musings on Why God is Good and Faith isn‚Äôt Evil

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University Press Audiobooks