Helen’s blog

We are not intuitive monists — but then, what are we?

I have recently been watching the fascinating iTunes lectures by Tamar Gendler on the philosophy of human nature. Two of the lectures discuss what she terms "parts of the soul", but what I ...

Read More

Religious beliefs: Matter of fact or of preference?

In the public sphere, religious beliefs are often considered to be a matter of private sentiment or preference, not as matters of fact. While this may be helpful for the maintenance of a pluralistic ...

Read More

What explains foxhole theism?

The well-known dictum that there are no atheists in foxholes (the source of this phrase is uncertain) is false. After all, there is even a military organization for atheists, the Military Association ...

Read More

Atheist clergymen and belief in belief

A while ago, Dan Sperber blogged about research by Daniel Dennett and Linda LaScola on atheist clergymen. Their paper, which is available in open access here, provides a fascinating qualitative study ...

Read More

Theology and cognitive science

In the next academic year, I will be a research follow at the University of Oxford on a project that examines the implications of cognitive science of religion for theology (see here for a summary of ...

Read More

If “Religion is natural”, what about atheism?

In 'cognition and culture' circles, it is almost a matter of common wisdom, it seems, to claim that religious belief is natural, whereas atheism, physicalism and other forms of unbelief are ...

Read More

Does atheism challenge the naturalness of religious belief?

Common wisdom has it that religious belief is natural, whereas atheism, physicalism and other forms of unbelief are unnatural (see for example, Rober McCauley's The Naturalness of Religion and ...

Read More

The theologian’s tragedy or the theologian’s trump card?

In October 2011, I will be working on a Templeton fellowship at the University of Oxford. My project is entitled Cognitive origins of intuitions in natural theology. See here for more details. The ...

Read More

The Zeus problem revisited – or is it the Jedi problem?

In their recent paper (available here) in Journal of Cognition and Culture, Will M. Gervais and Joseph Henrich call attention to the Zeus problem. If religious belief is solely guided by representa...

Read More

Epistemic trust in scientific practice: The case of primates studies

A few days ago, I received a favorable review of a paper of mine. The reviewer suggested some minor improvements, one of which led me to reflect on epistemic trust in scientific practice. In the ...

Read More

Endorsing evolution: A matter of authority?

As I discussed earlier in this blog, there appears to be substantial cross-cultural variation in the degree to which people endorse evolutionary theory. According to a study by Miller et al., some ...

Read More

Essentialist animals?

Over the past few decades, there has been a lot of research published on 'psychological essentialism', which has been observed cross-culturally in young children. Essentialism is the tendency ...

Read More