Volume 96, Issue 3, July 2013
Naturalizing Religious Belief
Cognitive Science and the Natural Knowledge of God
Rather than being in inherent conflict with religion or operating on planes that do not intersect, the cognitive science of religion (CSR) can be used to renovate a religious understanding of the world. CSR allows one to reshape the perspectives of Aquinas and Calvin on the natural knowledge of God. The Christian tradition affirms that all human beings have available to them some knowledge of God. This claim has empirical import and thus invites scientific investigation and clarification. A CSR-inspired lens allows one’s theological reflections to move from paradigms that focus on the cognitive reach of a domain-general power of human thought to a paradigm focused on different ways of relating to another person. The case study of the natural knowledge of God presented here models a productive way of relating CSR and religious perspectives from within a faith tradition.