Volume 96, Issue 3, July 2013
Naturalizing Religious Belief
For God and Country, Not Necessarily for Truth
The Nonalethic Function of Superempirical Beliefs
Religious beliefs, it has been noted, are often hard to disprove. While this would be a shortcoming for beliefs whose utility was connected to their accuracy, it is actually necessary in the case of beliefs whose function bears no connection to how accurate they are. In the case of religions and other ideologies that serve to promote prosocial behaviour this leads to the need to protect belief systems against potentially disruptive counterevidence while maintaining their relevance. Religions turn out to be particularly adept at this because of the use they make of existing cognitive by-products to make them plausible without exposing
them overly to investigation.