Cognitive science (abbreviated CS)is the current frontier in the West’s ongoing dialogue of science with religion. CS here includes both the cognitive psychology of religion (CSR) and neuroscience studies of religion. This project will demonstrate that the CS dialogue with religion can be made more fruitful by clarifying the nature and function of the scientific models deployed in the CS of religion and by employing models of cognitive complexity from recent research on cognitive development. CS interfaces with theology & religious studies as a scientific discipline that raises important questions at the interface of science and religion and as a method with which to study religious phenomena. Fruitful dialogue in both domains requires a sophisticated understanding of how models are developed and deployed in CS. This project will provide precisely that kind of understanding. This will be carried out during AY 2012-2013 with the Psychology and Religion Research Group at Cambridge University in the UK. An analysis of specific examples from the CS of religion (developed in work with colleagues at Cambridge University involved in their embodied cognition and religion project) in combination with research on processes of hierarchical and integrative complexity can lay the foundation for a more constructive and fruitful dialogue between CS and religion. A deeper understanding of the models deployed in CS will also enrich our understanding of the findings of CS regarding religion. At least 4 outputs will result: a series of articles on new models and methodologies in cognitive psychology for investigating religion; a monograph providing a critical and constructive analysis of the implications of the cognitive psychological study of religion for the religion-science dialogue; articles and conference presentations on the cognitive processes in religion and implications for interpreting CS research findings; a new graduate seminar on the cognitive psychology of religion.
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