According to recent studies in evolutionary psychology, our belief in the existence of God stems from a functional illusion. Belief in God or other supernatural agents once may have had evolutionary functions. For instance, keeping our ancestors from transgressing certain moral boundaries out of fear for repercussions after death or making them hyper-alert to dangers in the environment. But this is no longer the case: religious belief is now thought to be an effect of deficits in our cognitive mechanisms.
Such explanations go hand in hand with claims that God does nog exist because science has shown that religious belief is hardwired into our genes or brain. Furthermore, recent experiments in developmental psychology show that young children demonstrate a natural disposition towards religious bliefs frm the beginning of life. However, how should such data be explained? Do the evolutionary functions which religious belief has had (and which still transpire in our childhood years) indeed show that religious belief is illusory? Or does this type of argument rest on a a serious category mistake?
This project will be executed by PhD-student Hans van Eyghen.