Mind and Religion: Psychological and Cognitive Foundations of Religiosity


Recent cognitive approaches to the study of religion have yielded much understanding by focusing on common psychological processes that all humans share. One leading theory, Harvey Whitehouse’s modes of religiosity theory, demonstrates how two distinct modes of organizing and transmitting religious traditions emerge from different ways of activating universal memory systems. In Mind and Religion, top scholars from biology to religious studies question, test, evaluate, and challenge Whitehouse’s sweeping thesis. The result is an up-to-date snapshot of the cognitive science of religion field for classes in psychology, anthropology, or history of religion.


Table of Contents


Part One: The Theoretical Context
1. A Reductionistic Model of Distinct Modes of Religious Transmission
2. Modes Theory: Some Theoretical Considerations
3. Ritual Form and Ritual Frequency
4. Divergent Religion: A Dual-Process Model of Religious Thought, Behavior, and Structure
5. Rethinking Naturalness: Modes of Religiosity and Religion in the Round

Part Two: Testing the Modes Theory
6. In the Empirical Mode: Evidence Needed for the Modes of Religiosity
7. Memory and Analogical Thinking in High-Arousal Rituals

Part Three: Wider Applications
8. The Modes Theory Helps Explain Conversion Phenomena
9. Charisma, Tradition and Ritual: A Cognitive Approach to Magical Agency
10. Why Religions Develop Free Will Problems
11. The Cognitive Foundations of Religiosity