Original Research

The cognitive biases of human mind in accepting and transmitting religious and theological beliefs: An analysis based on the cognitive science of religion

Sayyed M. Biabanaki
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 1 | a5799 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i1.5799 | © 2020 Sayyed M. Biabanaki | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 August 2019 | Published: 12 March 2020

About the author(s)

Sayyed M. Biabanaki, Faculty of Theology, University of Isfahan, Isfahan,, Iran, Islamic Republic of


The cognitive science of religion (CSR) is an emerging field of cognitive science that gathers insights from different disciplines to explain how humans acquire and transmit religious beliefs. For the CSR scholars, the human mental tools have specific biases that make them susceptible to acceptance and transmission of religious beliefs. This article examines the characteristics of these biases and how they work, and shows that although our innate cognitive tendencies make our minds generally receptive to religion, they do not explain the emergence and endurance of specific religious beliefs in a particular culture. We will also show that although advocates of CSR study religion as a ‘natural’ phenomenon, and seek to discover the natural causes of the formation, acceptance, transmission and prevalence of religious beliefs, their efforts do not lead to decrease the validity of religious beliefs and rejection of ‘non-natural’ explanations of religious beliefs.


cognitive science of religion; cognitive bias; intuitive religious beliefs; reflective religious beliefs


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