Workshop 2017 (1 of 3) | Ara Norenzayan | Social Cognition, Theory of Mind, and Belief in Gods
For a given person to believe in a deity or deities, she must (a) be able to form intuitive mental representations of supernatural agents; (b) be motivated to commit to supernatural agents (and related rituals) as real and relevant sources of meaning and control; and (c) have received specific cultural inputs that, of all the supernatural agents or forces one could possibly think of, one or more specific deities should be believed in and committed to. In this talk, I present these interrelated hypotheses from the new cognitive science of religion and the science of cultural evolution in light of the growing evidence from diverse fields. I also present new research about belief in karma in relation to cognitive theories. Throughout the talk I explore the current controversies and debates about the social cognitive and cultural learning capacities that make human beings a believing species. This talk was presented as part of the 2017 CMBC Summer Workshop.