Document Type



The cognitive theory of religion seems to threaten to debunk religion, including Christianity, as irrational. The cognitive theory explains human religiosity as an accident, a mere byproduct, of the interaction of mental mechanisms evolved for other purposes. The threat to religion can be neutralized by finding good reasons for religious beliefs which can be identified independent of the operation of the cognitive mechanisms the theory posits. Christian faith should be understood not as sub-rational belief, but as trust in the God who resurrected Jesus Christ. Our natural religiosity, like our natural morality, has no necessary connection to God, but God finds aspects of it of use in his project of bringing humanity into fellowship with himself. Christian theology contends that the root human problem is not morally bad behavior, but unwillingness to trust God and the ensuing hopeless quest, largely through religiosity, for self-sufficiency and self-justification. God speaks his decisive good word to humankind, his refusal to accept our rejection of him as the last word, by way of religion, where that rejection makes its natural home. In light of this, persons of Christian faith have no reason to look askance on the cognitive theory of religion. That our religious proclivities have a humble, even risible, origin is a discovery we can with due humility embrace.

About the Author

An encounter with Dutch Calvinist philosophy led Dr. Wacome to pursue a master's degree in philosophy and write his thesis in epistemology. He continued his studies at Duke, where he earned a doctorate and explored metaethical theory in his dissertation. Since he started teaching, his interests have focused on the philosophy of the mind and the philosophy of science, particularly their bearing on the relation of scientific naturalism and the Christian faith. Wacome has a strong interest in theology and remains interested in metaethics, as well as political philosophy, particularly in its classical liberal and libertarian manifestations.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.