Claire White’s An Introduction to the Cognitive Science of Religion
Establishing CSR in University Curricula?
Keywords:scientific study of religion, the future of a scientific study of religion, evolution, cognition and history, fractionation, Holocene, shamanism, cognitive science of religion, undergraduate teaching of religion
In this commentary on Claire White’s An Introduction to the Cognitive Science of Religion: Connecting Evolution, Brain, Cognition, and Culture (London: Routledge, 2021), I contrast the circuitous way in which I (and probably a number of others) initially came to teach cognitive science of religion (CSR) at the undergraduate university level with the more direct (and knowledgeable) way in which White came to do so. I then briefly discuss her comprehensive and coherent presentation of the CSR, noting, however, several issues with which I have problems (fractionation, an ahistorical “presentist” bias, and whether or not an “agnostic” view of religious teachings should remain the norm in the modern university curricula). Nevertheless, White’s Introduction is a most welcome and long-overdue contribution to the academic study of religion, the 150-year trajectory of which has been characterized by an anti-scientific history.
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