Is Religion a Necessary Condition for the Emergence of Knowledge? Some Explanatory Hypotheses

Postmodern Openings 10 (3):202-228 (2019)
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By using the general investigation framework offered by the cognitive science of religion (CSR), I analyse religion as a necessary condition for the evolutionary path of knowledge. The main argument is the "paradox of the birth of knowledge": in order to get to the meaning of the part, a sense context is needed; but a sense of the whole presupposes the sense (meaning) of the parts. Religion proposes solutions to escape this paradox, based on the imagination of sense (meaning) contexts, respectively closures of these contexts through meta-senses. What is important is the practical effectiveness of solutions proposed by religion, taking into account the costs of faith and the costs of the absence of religious belief. The hypothesis has the following consequences: religion is a necessary condition for the initial evolution of knowledge and the emergence of religion is determined by the evolution of knowledge. The continuation of the solving of paradox is a Bayesian one, using explorations: a sense of the whole allows cognitive arrangements of the parties, which in turn open the possibility of a rearrangement of the whole. The contribution of religion to the emergence of sense (meaning) could be governed by the rule: any map of the world is more useful than no map; any meaning (of life) is better than no meaning. The human mind fills the perceptual and cognitive gaps, some (religious) filling solutions being true vault keys of the entire cognitive construction called the world. Knowledge is conditioned by the existence of an organized context, as the cosmos created by religion by means of explanatory meta-theories supports knowledge by closing the cognitive context and using meaning networks. The proposed analysis is consistent with a redefinition of rationality from the perspective of evolution: the importance and relevance of knowledge is determined by its practical outcome - survival. In the context of useful fictions, it does not matter what God actually does, but what we have done by believing in God. Existence has provided a pragmatic verification of the cognitive solutions that underlie the survival strategies promoted by religions.
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