• The Challenge of Evolution to Religion
    Cambridge University Press. 2020.
    This Element focuses on three challenges of evolution to religion: teleology, human origins, and the evolution of religion itself. First, religious worldviews tend to presuppose a teleological understanding of the origins of living things, but scientists mostly understand evolution as non-teleological. Second, religious and scientific accounts of human origins do not align in a straightforward sense. Third, evolutionary explanations of religion, including religious beliefs and practices, may cas…Read more
  •  82
    According to cognitive science of religion (CSR) people naturally veer toward beliefs that are quite divergent from Anselmian monotheism or Christian theism. Some authors have taken this view as a starting point for a debunking argument against religion, while others have tried to vindicate Christian theism by appeal to the noetic effects of sin or the Fall. In this paper, we ask what theologians can learn from CSR about the nature of the divine, by looking at the CSR literature and what it iden…Read more
  •  93
    Is intuitive teleological reasoning promiscuous?
    In William Gibson, Dan O'brien & Marius Turda (eds.), Teleology and Modernity, Routledge. pp. 185-202. 2020.
    Humans have a tendency to reason teleologically. This tendency is more pronounced under time pressure, in people with little formal schooling and in patients with Alzheimer’s. This has led some cognitive scientists of religion, notably Kelemen, to call intuitive teleological reasoning promiscuous, by which they mean teleology is applied to domains where it is unwarranted. We examine these claims using Kant’s idea of the transcendental illusion in the first Critique and his views on the regulativ…Read more
  •  116
    Animal Cognition, Species Invariantism, and Mathematical Realism
    In Andrew Aberdein & Matthew Inglis (eds.), Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Logic and Mathematics, Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 39-61. 2019.
    What can we infer from numerical cognition about mathematical realism? In this paper, I will consider one aspect of numerical cognition that has received little attention in the literature: the remarkable similarities of numerical cognitive capacities across many animal species. This Invariantism in Numerical Cognition (INC) indicates that mathematics and morality are disanalogous in an important respect: proto-moral beliefs differ substantially between animal species, whereas proto-mathematical…Read more
  •  182
    Etiological challenges to religious practices
    American Philosophical Quarterly 55 (4). 2018.
    There is a common assumption that evolutionary explanations of religion undermine religious beliefs. Do etiological accounts similarly affect the rationality of religious practices? To answer this question, this paper looks at two influential evolutionary accounts of ritual, the hazard-precaution model and costly signaling theory. It examines whether Cuneo’s account of ritual knowledge as knowing to engage God can be maintained in the light of these evolutionary accounts. While the evolutionary …Read more
  •  218
    Religious Conversion, Transformative Experience, and Disagreement
    Philosophia Christi 20 (1): 265-276. 2018.
    Religious conversion gives rise to disagreement with one’s former self and with family and friends. Because religious conversion is personally and epistemically transformative, it is difficult to judge whether a former epistemic peer is still one’s epistemic peer post-conversion, just like it is hard for the convert to assess whether she is now in a better epistemic position than prior to her conversion. Through Augustine’s De Utilitate Credendi (The Usefulness of Belief) I show that reasoned ar…Read more
  •  412
    Religious Beliefs and Philosophical Views: A Qualitative Study
    Res Philosophica 95 (3): 477-504. 2018.
    Philosophy of religion is often regarded as a philosophical discipline in which irrelevant influences, such as upbringing and education, play a pernicious role. This paper presents results of a qualitative survey among academic philosophers of religion to examine the role of such factors in their work. In light of these findings, I address two questions: an empirical one (whether philosophers of religion are influenced by irrelevant factors in forming their philosophical attitudes) and an episte…Read more
  •  5
    Joshua Alexander
    Journal of Cognition and Culture 14 (1-2): 149-152. 2014.
  •  146
    An enduring puzzle in philosophy and developmental psychology is how young children acquire number concepts, in particular the concept of natural number. Most solutions to this problem conceptualize young learners as lone mathematicians who individually reconstruct the successor function and other sophisticated mathematical ideas. In this chapter, I argue for a crucial role of testimony in children’s acquisition of number concepts, both in the transfer of propositional knowledge (e.g., the cardi…Read more
  •  174
    Religious Disagreement
    Cambridge University Press. 2019.
    This Element examines what we can learn from religious disagreement, focusing on disagreement with possible selves and former selves, the epistemic significance of religious agreement, the problem of disagreements between religious experts, and the significance of philosophy of religion. Helen De Cruz shows how religious beliefs of others constitute significant higher-order evidence. At the same time, she advises that we should not necessarily become agnostic about all religious matters, because…Read more
  •  926
    Prestige Bias: An Obstacle to a Just Academic Philosophy
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5. 2018.
    This paper examines the role of prestige bias in shaping academic philosophy, with a focus on its demographics. I argue that prestige bias exacerbates the structural underrepresentation of minorities in philosophy. It works as a filter against (among others) philosophers of color, women philosophers, and philosophers of low socio-economic status. As a consequence of prestige bias our judgments of philosophical quality become distorted. I outline ways in which prestige bias in philosophy can be …Read more
  •  11
    The Implications of the Cognitive Sciences for the Relation Between Religion and Science Education: The Case of Evolutionary Theory
    with Stefaan Blancke, Johan De Smedt, Maarten Boudry, and Johan Braeckman
    Science & Education 21 (8): 1167-1184. 2012.
  •  10
    Towards a Darwinian Approach to Mathematics
    Foundations of Science 11 (1): 157-196. 2004.
  •  371
    [from the publisher's website] Questions about the existence and attributes of God form the subject matter of natural theology, which seeks to gain knowledge of the divine by relying on reason and experience of the world. Arguments in natural theology rely largely on intuitions and inferences that seem natural to us, occurring spontaneously—at the sight of a beautiful landscape, perhaps, or in wonderment at the complexity of the cosmos—even to a nonphilosopher. In this book, Helen De Cruz and Jo…Read more
  •  142
    Intuitions and Arguments: Cognitive Foundations of Argumentation in Natural Theology
    European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 9 (2): 57-82. 2017.
    This paper examines the cognitive foundations of natural theology: the intuitions that provide the raw materials for religious arguments, and the social context in which they are defended or challenged. We show that the premises on which natural theological arguments are based rely on intuitions that emerge early in development, and that underlie our expectations for everyday situations, e.g., about how causation works, or how design is recognized. In spite of the universality of these intuition…Read more
  •  53
    The failure of current bootstrapping accounts to explain the emergence of the concept of natural numbers does not entail that no link exists between intuitive and formal number concepts. The epidemiology of representations allows us to explain similarities between intuitive and formal number concepts without requiring that the latter are directly constructed from the former
  •  646
    Religious disagreement is an emerging topic of interest in social epistemology. Little is known about how philosophers react to religious disagreements in a professional context, or how they think one should respond to disagreement. This paper presents results of an empirical study on religious disagreement among philosophers. Results indicate that personal religious beliefs, philosophical training, and recent changes in religious outlook have a significant impact on philosophers' assessments of…Read more
  •  558
    The Epistemic Value of Speculative Fiction
    Midwest Studies in Philosophy 39 (1): 58-77. 2015.
    Speculative fiction, such as science fiction and fantasy, has a unique epistemic value. We examine similarities and differences between speculative fiction and philosophical thought experiments in terms of how they are cognitively processed. They are similar in their reliance on mental prospection, but dissimilar in that fiction is better able to draw in readers (transportation) and elicit emotional responses. By its use of longer, emotionally poignant narratives and seemingly irrelevant detail…Read more
  •  107
    The role of intuitive ontologies in scientific understanding – the case of human evolution
    with Johan De Smedt
    Biology and Philosophy 22 (3): 351-368. 2007.
    Psychological evidence suggests that laypeople understand the world around them in terms of intuitive ontologies which describe broad categories of objects in the world, such as ‘person’, ‘artefact’ and ‘animal’. However, because intuitive ontologies are the result of natural selection, they only need to be adaptive; this does not guarantee that the knowledge they provide is a genuine reflection of causal mechanisms in the world. As a result, science has parted ways with intuitive ontologies. Ne…Read more
  •  454
    Numerical cognition and mathematical realism
    Philosophers' Imprint 16. 2016.
    Humans and other animals have an evolved ability to detect discrete magnitudes in their environment. Does this observation support evolutionary debunking arguments against mathematical realism, as has been recently argued by Clarke-Doane, or does it bolster mathematical realism, as authors such as Joyce and Sinnott-Armstrong have assumed? To find out, we need to pay closer attention to the features of evolved numerical cognition. I provide a detailed examination of the functional properties of e…Read more
  •  13
    Feature: Philosophers who found success outside the academy
    The Philosophers' Magazine 68 10-17. 2015.
  •  583
    Hume was a cognitive scientist of religion avant la lettre. His Natural History of Religion (1757 [2007]) locates the origins of religion in human nature. This paper explores similarities between some of his ideas and the cognitive science of religion, the multidisciplinary study of the psychological origins of religious beliefs. It also considers Hume’s distinction between two questions about religion: its foundation in reason (the domain of natural theology and philosophy of religion) and its …Read more
  •  518
    Delighting in natural beauty: Joint attention and the phenomenology of nature aesthetics
    European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 5 (4): 167-186. 2013.
    Empirical research in the psychology of nature appreciation suggests that humans across cultures tend to evaluate nature in positive aesthetic terms, including a sense of beauty and awe. They also frequently engage in joint attention with other persons, whereby they are jointly aware of sharing attention to the same event or object. This paper examines how, from a natural theological perspective, delight in natural beauty can be conceptualized as a way of joining attention to creation. Drawing o…Read more
  •  690
    The Enduring Appeal of Natural Theological Arguments
    Philosophy Compass 9 (2): 145-153. 2014.
    Natural theology is the branch of theology and philosophy that attempts to gain knowledge of God through non-revealed sources. In a narrower sense, natural theology is the discipline that presents rational arguments for the existence of God. Given that these arguments rarely directly persuade those who are not convinced by their conclusions, why do they enjoy an enduring appeal? This article examines two reasons for the continuing popularity of natural theological arguments: (i) they appeal to i…Read more
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    Is teaching children young earth creationism child abuse?
    The Philosophers' Magazine 63 21-23. 2013.
  •  1074
    The cultural transmission of theological concepts remains an underexplored topic in the cognitive science of religion (CSR). In this paper, I examine whether approaches from CSR, especially the study of content biases in the transmission of beliefs, can help explain the cultural success of some theological concepts. This approach reveals that there is more continuity between theological beliefs and ordinary religious beliefs than CSR authors have hitherto recognized: the cultural transmission of…Read more
  •  110
    Het 'universele zuur' van de evolutionaire psychologie?
    with Maarten Boudry, Stefaan Blancke, and Johan De Smedt
    Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 73 (2): 287-305. 2011.
    In a previous issue of Tijdschrift voor Filosofie, Filip Buekens argues that evolutionary psychology (EP), or some interpretations thereof, have a corrosive impact on our ‘manifest self-image’. Buekens wants to defend and protect the global adequacy of this manifest self-image in the face of what he calls evolutionary revisionism. Although we largely agree with Buekens’ central argument, we criticize his analysis on several accounts, making some constructive proposals to strengthen his case. Fir…Read more
  •  156
    The idea that formal geometry derives from intuitive notions of space has appeared in many guises, most notably in Kant’s argument from geometry. Kant claimed that an a priori knowledge of spatial relationships both allows and constrains formal geometry: it serves as the actual source of our cognition of principles of geometry and as a basis for its further cultural development. The development of non-Euclidean geometries, however, seemed to definitely undermine the idea that there is some pri…Read more