Is Christian Belief Supernatural? Grace, Nature and the Cognitive Science of Religion

TheoLogica: An International Journal for Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology 8 (1) (2023)
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The Cognitive Science of Religion represents a contemporary attempt at a naturalistic explanation of religion. There is debate as to whether its account of how religious beliefs arise is reconcilable with the religious account, which holds that religious beliefs are caused by God. In my paper, I argue that these two accounts cannot be reconciled when it comes to the specific question of how Christian religious beliefs arise if one accepts an important theological doctrine of the supernaturality of Christian belief. This doctrine implies that there can be no natural explanation for how Christian beliefs arise because they are a gift of divine grace. This leads to a conundrum for Christian theists: they can either reject the CSR account of how their religious beliefs arise, or they can reject the supernaturality of Christian belief. I argue that the latter is preferable. I then draw on the work of the theologian Denis Edwards to illustrate how one can drop this doctrine without abandoning some other fundamental tenets of Christian theology.

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Stanisław Ruczaj
Jagiellonian University (PhD)


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