Theological Incorrectness : Why Religious People Believe What They Shouldn't: Why Religious People Believe What They Shouldn't
Oxford University Press, USA, Jan 30, 2004 - Philosophy - 168 pages
"Ask two religious people one question, and you'll get three answers!" Why do religious people believe what they shouldn't--not what others think they shouldn't believe, but things that don't accord with their own avowed religious beliefs? This engaging book explores this puzzling feature of human behavior. D. Jason Slone terms this phenomenon "theological incorrectness." He demonstrates that it exists because the mind is built it such a way that it's natural for us to think divergent thoughts simultaneously. Human minds are great at coming up with innovative ideas that help them make sense of the world, he says, but those ideas do not always jibe with official religious beliefs. From this fact we derive the important lesson that what we learn from our environment--religious ideas, for example--does not necessarily cause us to behave in ways consistent with that knowledge. Slone presents the latest discoveries from the cognitive science of religion and shows how they help us to understand exactly why it is that religious people do and think things that they shouldn't. He then applies these insights to three case studies. First he looks at why Theravada Buddhists profess that Buddha was just a man but actually worship him as a god. Then he explores why the early Puritan Calvinists, who believed in predestination, acted instead as if humans had free will by, for example, conducting witch-hunts and seeking converts. Finally, he explains why both Christians and Buddhists believe in luck even though the doctrines of Divine Providence and karma suggest there's no such thing. In seeking answers to profound questions about why people behave the way they do, this fascinating book sheds new light on the workings of the human mind and on the complex relationship between cognition and culture.
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