For millennia, philosophers and others have offered explanations of religious belief. Barrett's discussion challenges every explanation I know of, doing so on the basis of fascinating and innovative empirical studies, and acute philosophical analysis. His theory is innovative, compelling, and provocative at many points, not least in its conclusion that theism, not atheism, is our natural condition. It's the sort of book that shakes up the field; all philosophers and psychologists of religion will have to take account of it. (Nicholas Wolterstorff, Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, Yale University)
A brilliant and challenging presentation of the cognitive study of religion, by a psychologist who practically invented the field. Barrett marries exceptional conceptual rigour with an easy, accessible style. This should provide a much-needed guide for students and scholars of religion as well as a roadmap for future developments in the field. (Pascal Boyer, Washington University in St. Louis, Author of Religion Explained)
In a beautifully argued presentation, Justin Barrett brings together diverse material from cognitive psychology to show that belief in God is natural. Belief is intuitively satisfying because it depends on mental tools possessed by all human beings. That it is natural does not imply that it is true, for the mental tools were elaborated through natural and cultural selection to help humans survive, not to find truth. This book will become a classic for religious studies, and should be read by anthropologists, theologians, and scientists, as well as all those puzzled by the force of religion. (Robert Hinde, Cambridge University)
About the Author
After completing his Ph.D. in experimental psychology at Cornell University, Justin Barrett served on the psychology faculties of Calvin College (Michigan) and the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), and as a research fellow of the Institute for Social Research. Recently, he was the Associate Director for the International Culture and Cognition Consortium and an editor of the Journal of Cognition and Culture. His cross-cultural, developmental, and experimental research on religious concepts has appeared in numerous books and scholarly journals. Dr. Barrett currently provides consulting on numerous research and evaluation projects for academic and non-profit groups, especially concerning the interface of science and religion.