T.M. Luhrmann, How God Becomes Real: Kindling the Presence of Invisible Others


  • Armin W Geertz Aarhus University




Cognitive Science of Religion, Anthropology of Religion, Religious Experience, Comparative Religion


T.M. Luhrmann, How God Becomes Real: Kindling the Presence of Invisible Others (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2020), xv + 235pp., $29.95 (cloth), ISBN: 9780691164465.

Author Biography

Armin W Geertz, Aarhus University

Armin W. Geertz is Professor in the History of Religions at the Department of Culture and Society, Section for the Study of Religion, and Chair of the Religion, Cognition and Culture Research Unit (RCC), Aarhus University, Denmark.


Andersen, Marc. 2019a. ‘The Bayesian Observer and Supernatural Agents’, Religion, Brain & Behavior 9.1: 99–104. https://doi.org/10.1080/2153599X.2017.1387597 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/2153599X.2017.1387597

Andersen, Marc. 2019b. ‘Predictive Coding in Agency Detection’, Religion, Brain & Behavior 9.1: 65–84. https://doi.org/10.1080/2153599X.2017.1387170 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/2153599X.2017.1387170

Andersen, Marc, Kristoffer L. Nielbo, Uffe Schjoedt, Thies Pfeiffer, Andreas Roepstorff, and Jesper Sørensen. 2018. ‘Predictive Minds in Ouija Board Sessions’. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 18: 577–88. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11097-018-9585-8 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11097-018-9585-8

Andersen, Marc, Thies Pfeiffer, Sebastian Müller, and Uffe Schjoedt. 2019. ‘Agency Detection in Predictive Minds: A Virtual Reality Study’, Religion, Brain & Behavior 9.1: 52–64. https://doi.org/10.1080/2153599X.2017.1378709 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/2153599X.2017.1378709

Andersen, Marc, Uffe Schjoedt, Kristoffer L. Nielbo, and Jesper Sørensen. 2014. ‘Mystical Experience in the Lab’, Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 26: 217–45. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/15700682-12341323

Bar, Moshe. 2007. ‘The Proactive Brain: Using Analogies and Associations to Generate Predictions’, TRENDS in Cognitive Sciences 11.7: 280–89. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2007.05.005

Barsalou, Lawrence W. 2009. ‘Simulation, Situated Conceptualization, and Prediction’, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 364: 1281–9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2008.0319

Clark, Andy. 2013. ‘Whatever Next? Predictive Brains, Situated Agents, and the Future of Cognitive Science’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36.3: 181–204. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X12000477

Friston, Karl, and Stefan Keibel. 2009. ‘Predictive Coding under the Free-Energy Principle’, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 364: 1211–21. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2008.0300

Frith, Chris. 2007. Making Up the Mind: How the Brain Creates Our Mental World (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing).

Geertz, Armin W. 2004. ‘Cognitive Approaches to the Study of Religion’, in Peter Antes, Armin W. Geertz, and Randi R. Warne (eds.) New Approaches to the Study of Religion. Volume 2: Textual, Comparative, Sociological, and Cognitive Approaches (Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter): 347–99.

Geertz, Armin W. 2009. ‘When Cognitive Scientists Become Religious, Science Is in Trouble: On Neurotheology from a Philosophy of Science Perspective’, Religion 39: 319–24. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.religion.2009.08.001

Geertz, Armin W. 2010. ‘Brain, Body and Culture: A Biocultural Theory of Religion’, Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 22.4: 304–21. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/157006810X531094

Geertz, Armin W. 2013. ‘Whence Religion? How the Brain Constructs the World and What This Might Tell Us about the Origins of Religion, Cognition and Culture’, in Armin W. Geertz (ed.) Origins of Religion, Cognition and Culture (Durham: Acumen Publishing Limited): 17–70. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315728988

Geertz, Armin W. 2016. ‘Cognitive Science’, in Michael Stausberg and Steven Engler (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of the Study of Religion (Oxford: Oxford University Press): 97–111. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198729570.013.7

Geertz, Armin W. 2020. ‘How Did Ignorance Become Fact in American Religious Studies? A Reluctant Reply to Ivan Strenski’, SMSR—Studi e Materiali di Storia delle Religioni 86.1: 365–403.

Hoogeveen, Suzanne, Uffe Schjoedt, and Michiel van Elk. 2018. ‘Did I Do That? Expectancy Effects of Brain Stimulation on Error-Related Negativity and Sense of Agency’, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 30.11: 1720–33. https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn_a_01297 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn_a_01297

Jensen, Jeppe Sinding. 2011. ‘Revisiting the Insider-Outsider Debate: Dismantling a Pseudo-Problem in the Study of Religion’, Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 23: 29–47. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/157006811X549689

Luhrmann, Tanya M. 2011. ‘Hallucinations and Sensory Overrides’, Annual Review of Anthropology 40: 71–85. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-anthro-081309-145819

Luhrmann, Tanya M. 2012. When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God (New York: Alfred A. Knopf). DOI: https://doi.org/10.24260/alalbab.v1i1.16

Martin, Luther H., and Donald Wiebe. 2017. Religion Explained? The Cognitive Science of Religion after Twenty-Five Years (London: Bloomsbury Academic).

Nielbo, Kristoffer Laigaard, and Jesper Sørensen. 2013. ‘Prediction Error during Functional and Non-Functional Action Sequences: A Computational Exploration of Ritual and Ritualized Event Processing’, Journal of Cognition and Culture 13: 347–65. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/15685373-12342098

Schjoedt, Uffe, Jesper Sørensen, Kristoffer Laigaard Nielbo, Dimitris Xygalatas, Panagiotis Mitkidis, and Joseph Bulbulia. 2013. ‘The Resource Model and the Principle of Predictive Coding: A Framework for Analyzing Proximate Effects of Ritual’, Religion, Brain & Behavior 3.1: 79–86. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/2153599X.2012.745447

Schjødt, Uffe, and Jeppe Sinding Jensen. 2018. ‘Depletion and Deprivation: Social Functional Pathways to a Shared Metacognition’, in Joëlle Proust and Martin Fortier (eds.) Metacognitive Diversity: An Interdisciplinary Approach (Oxford: Oxford University Press): 319–42.

Slone, D. Jason, and William W. McCorkle, Jr. (eds.) 2019. The Cognitive Science of Religion: A Methodological Introduction to Key Empirical Studies (London: Bloomsbury Academic). DOI: https://doi.org/10.5040/9781350033726

White, Claire. 2021. An Introduction to the Cognitive Science of Religion: Connecting Evolution, Brain, Cognition, and Culture (London and New York: Routledge). DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351010979




How to Cite

Geertz, A. W. (2022). T.M. Luhrmann, How God Becomes Real: Kindling the Presence of Invisible Others. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 16(2), 306–311. https://doi.org/10.1558/jsrnc.19725



Book Reviews