When: December 4th‐5th 2015
Where: VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Organizers: Hans van Eyghen, Rik Peels, and Gijsbert van den Brink
Although Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR) is still a rather young discipline, its main theories have been the subject of considerable debate. One main point of discussion is whether cognitive theories explain religion. The title of Pascal Boyer’s book Religion Explained (2002) signals that at least one goal of CSR is to explain religion. Many authors have interpreted ‘explaining’ as explaining away and have argued that CSR‐theories have not explained religion away because the truth of religion is compatible with the main theories in CSR.
Here I will analyze a recent paper by Kathleen Corriveau et al., published in Cognitive Science that has been heralded as evidence that “Children Exposed To Religion Have Difficulty Distinguishing Fact From Fiction.” First, I will look at what the researchers say the study says, then look at what the media claims the study finds, and examine the two experiments conducted in this study to see what the study actually finds. In short, this study does not provide evidence that kids from religious households have more difficulty distinguishing fiction from fact. More research is needed to rule out alternative interpretations of what the authors are claiming.