Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 03 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews and advances a theory the author has long advocated, namely that religion may best be understood as anthropomorphism and that the latter is largely the byproduct of an evolved cognitive strategy. The strategy is to resolve uncertainty, which pervades cognition, with the logic of Pascal’s Wager: When in doubt about the nature of a phenomenon, bet on the most relevant possibility. For humans, that possibility usually is that the phenomenon is personal or has personal features or traces. From earliest infancy, we are preoccupied with persons, and our prototype of intentional agency evidently is our concept of the human mind. We interpret phenomena as personal involuntarily, automatically, and mostly unconsciously.

Keywords: religion, cognition, evolution, anthropomorphism, theory

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.