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Palgrave Macmillan

Thinking about Religion

Extending the Cognitive Science of Religion

ISBN 9781137324740
Publication Date April 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Palgrave Frontiers in Philosophy of Religion

Thinking about Religion presents a case for an inter-disciplinary science of religion, proposing that religion operates as a kind of psychological and social placebo effect. Religious belief combines thought, feeling and experience in a way that leverages the natural tendency of the mind to latch on to socially and personally useful concepts. This effect delivers tangible benefits because religious concepts and practice feed the mind's natural drive to cling to strong beliefs. At the same time, beliefs are reinforced by favourable emotional responses. Thinking about Religion explains how these elements work together to make religious belief such a powerful placebo effect. Belief is the currency of thought, and religious belief offers a powerful return on investment. Religious activity concentrates the mind's capacity to hold ideas that effectively galvanize groups and cultivate belonging.

Aaron C.T. Smith is Professor and Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor at RMIT University, Australia. Aaron's research focuses on the psychological, organisational and social dimensions of change, and has authored 15 books examining these issues. Aaron specialises in explaining extreme beliefs such as those associated with religion, sport, and health.

List of Figures and Tables
1. In the Beginning: Reconsidering the Cognitive Science of Religion
2. Religion in Mind: Religious Thoughts as Mental Representations
3. Sticky Thinking: Making Sense of Religious Thoughts
4. Practicing and Preaching: The Psychology of Religious Thinking
5. God in the Brain: The Neurology of Religious Cognition
6. Making Meaning: Explaining Religion in Practice
7. Evolution and Revolution: The Biology of Belief
8. The Belief Imperative: Towards an Integrated Framework for Religious Cognition
9. Faith and Facts: Religious Cognition and What We Think We Know
10. Becoming Believers: A Extended Model of Religious Cognition
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