Chapter

Gods and Why They Matter

Todd Tremlin

in Minds and Gods

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195305340
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199784721 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195305345.003.0005
 Gods and Why They Matter

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This chapter looks at how god concepts are represented and processed by the human mind, particularly at features of social cognition that support thinking about supernatural agents, enhance their relevance to daily life, and lead people to accept them as real. Gods are naturally represented as concerned, relational beings made salient by their counterintuitive access to strategic information. Gods also evoke important emotional responses and fit into the ritual structures that organize human social relations. In addition, the chapter describes the nature of belief formation, differences between intuitive and reflective beliefs, and explains belief in gods on the basis of “aggregate relevance” — the combined activation of crucial mental inference systems not only renders the representation of gods possible but also plausible.

Keywords: social cognition; strategic information; emotional mind; religious rituals; belief formation; intuitive beliefs; aggregate relevance; mental inference systems

Chapter.  16702 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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