Essential readings in the cognitive science of religion

A Listmania! list by Thomas Adam L. (HI, USA)
The list author says: "The cognitive science of religion offers the most promising toolkit available to understanding how religion operates in the mind of human beings and why it is believed by so many people in so many different forms both historically and contemporaneously."
In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion (Evolution and Cognition)
1.  In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion (Evolution and Cognition) by Scott Atran
The list author says:
  "Probably the most complete text available."
$23.32   Used & New from: $9.49
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought
2.  Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought by Pascal Boyer
The list author says:
  "Wonderful insights are in this book.  It is certainly worth reading.  I just wish Boyer wrote a little more clearly.  It's a task to read his prose."
$15.15   Used & New from: $1.36
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)

Supernatural Agents: Why We Believe in Souls, Gods, and Buddhas
3.  Supernatural Agents: Why We Believe in Souls, Gods, and Buddhas by Ilkka Pyysiäinen
The list author says:
  "Like my review of this book says.  It is the best on the subject by a single author since Boyer and Atran."
$63.20   Used & New from: $43.98
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

Why Religion is Natural and Science is Not
4.  Why Religion is Natural and Science is Not by Robert N. McCauley
$27.84   Used & New from: $11.57
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

The Belief Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life
5.  The Belief Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life by Jesse Bering
The list author says:
  "This is a superior popular-level treatment of religious cognition by one of the leading scholars in the field.  In the process of being highly readable, it does not skimp on argumentative rigor."
$18.76   Used & New from: $1.86
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

Minds and Gods: The Cognitive Foundations of Religion
6.  Minds and Gods: The Cognitive Foundations of Religion by Todd Tremlin
The list author says:
  "This is probably the best introductory text."
$28.96   Used & New from: $8.41
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

Magic, Miracles, and Religion: A Scientist's Perspective (Cognitive Science of Religion)
7.  Magic, Miracles, and Religion: A Scientist's Perspective (Cognitive Science of Religion) by Pyysidinen Ilkka
The list author says:
  "Pyysiäinen is a "founding father" in the field of cog sci of religion.  This is a collection of his articles.  Definitely worthwhile."
$34.97   Used & New from: $2.89
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion
8.  Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion by Stewart Elliott Guthrie
The list author says:
  "Basically the book that kicked off the entire field.  It’s also a good introduction but not completely focused on religion.  It is everything you ever needed to know about anthropomorphism."
$53.05   Used & New from: $17.52
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

Caveman Logic: The Persistence of Primitive Thinking in a Modern World
9.  Caveman Logic: The Persistence of Primitive Thinking in a Modern World by Hank Davis
The list author says:
  "Great academic polemic on the subject."
Used & New from: $6.71
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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How the Bible Works: An Anthropological Study of Evangelical Biblicism (Cognitive Science of Religion)
10.  How the Bible Works: An Anthropological Study of Evangelical Biblicism (Cognitive Science of Religion) by Brian Malley
The list author says:
  "Hard to read due to academic style but overwhelmingly worth it.  Best/only textual/ anthropological study of American Christians that I am aware of.  Malley attended the church and knew his correspondents from which he wrote the book."
$23.51   Used & New from: $11.97
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

Religion and Cognition (Critical Categories in the Study of Religion)
11.  Religion and Cognition (Critical Categories in the Study of Religion) by D Jason Slone
The list author says:
  "This book gathers together in one source a powerful set of journal articles that are foundational in the field."
Used & New from: $22.55

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When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth
12.  When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth by Elizabeth Wayland Barber
The list author says:
  "The Barber's are light on cog sci but they bring wonderful insights from mythology and history."
$26.06   Used & New from: $17.94
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

Why Gods Persist: A Scientific Approach to Religion
13.  Why Gods Persist: A Scientific Approach to Religion by Robert A. Hinde
The list author says:
  "One of the textual founders of the field."
$31.46   Used & New from: $5.01

SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable
14.  SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable by Bruce M. Hood
The list author says:
  "Great insights.  Light read."
$19.71   Used & New from: $0.01
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

Born to Believe: God, Science, and the Origin of Ordinary and Extraordinary Beliefs
15.  Born to Believe: God, Science, and the Origin of Ordinary and Extraordinary Beliefs by Andrew B. Newberg
The list author says:
  "Great overview.  Introduces neuroscience to the study of religion."
$17.76   Used & New from: $0.72
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Theological Incorrectness: Why Religious People Believe What They Shouldn't
16.  Theological Incorrectness: Why Religious People Believe What They Shouldn't by Jason Slone
The list author says:
  "Slone is great in his light treatment of this serious subject."
$13.20   Used & New from: $2.85
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

A Cognitive Theory of Magic (Cognitive Science of Religion)
17.  A Cognitive Theory of Magic (Cognitive Science of Religion) by Jesper Sørensen
The list author says:
  "A great book on the related subject of magic.  The lines between magic and religion indeed are fuzzy."
$29.66   Used & New from: $28.68
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

Descartes' Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human
18.  Descartes' Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human by Paul Bloom
The list author says:
  "Bloom's basic premise is that people are naturally dualists in the way we conceptualize humans and that this is one of the foundations of religious thought."
$11.95   Used & New from: $1.27
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

Modes of Religiosity: A Cognitive Theory of Religious Transmission (Cognitive Science of Religion)
19.  Modes of Religiosity: A Cognitive Theory of Religious Transmission (Cognitive Science of Religion) by Harvey Whitehouse
The list author says:
  "This book compares and contrasts what the author argues are the two predominant modes of religion--the "imagistic" (such as the high-arousal, low frequency rites of certain tribal peoples) and the "doctrinal" (such as the Abrahamic faiths)."
$22.81   Used & New from: $21.01
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

Why Would Anyone Believe in God? (Cognitive Science of Religion)
20.  Why Would Anyone Believe in God? (Cognitive Science of Religion) by Justin L. Barrett
The list author says:
  "Barrett is brilliant.  Except when he tries to defend Christianity in the last chapter and (weirdly) blames atheism on urbanization."
$17.70   Used & New from: $9.81
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Creation of the Sacred: Tracks of Biology in Early Religions
21.  Creation of the Sacred: Tracks of Biology in Early Religions by Walter Burkert
The list author says:
  "Burkert is outside his field on this and it shows.  But the book is still worth reading.  His expertise in mythology makes it worthwhile."
$27.29   Used & New from: $3.96
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

The Divine Archetype: The Sociobiology and Psychology of Religion
22.  The Divine Archetype: The Sociobiology and Psychology of Religion by Brant Wenegrat
Used & New from: $3.00

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How Religion Works: Towards a New Cognitive Science of Religion (Cognition and Culture, 1)
23.  How Religion Works: Towards a New Cognitive Science of Religion (Cognition and Culture, 1) by Ilkka Pyysiäinen
Used & New from: $39.65
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition
24.  Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition by Stuart A. Vyse
$22.85   Used & New from: $0.01
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

Imagining the Impossible: Magical, Scientific, and Religious Thinking in Children
25.  Imagining the Impossible: Magical, Scientific, and Religious Thinking in Children by Karl S. Rosengren
$38.21   Used & New from: $21.41

Conceiving God: The Cognitive Origin and Evolution of Religion
26.  Conceiving God: The Cognitive Origin and Evolution of Religion by J. David Lewis-Williams
$26.16   Used & New from: $18.40
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Thomas Adam L. (HI, USA)
Last updated: 3/26/12
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