The Importance of Religious Displays for Belief Acquisition and Secularization

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    47 Citations (Scopus)


    Both the sociology and the cognitive science of religion seek to explain the acquisition of religious beliefs. In this article, I offer an account of the acquisition and distribution of religious beliefs using the findings of both fields. In the process, I seek to illustrate the potential of interdisciplinary dialogue for improving our understanding of religion and its absence. More specifically, I present a prima facie case—based on existing work in the social and cognitive sciences, exploratory online surveys, and participant observation—that witnessing actions attesting to religious claims is one of the most crucial variables determining whether or not an individual will explicitly believe such claims. Further, I argue that the connection between action and belief can help produce an improved account of secularization and non-theism, defined here as the lack of explicit belief in the existence of non-physical agents.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)49-65
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Contemporary Religion
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Religious studies
    • Philosophy
    • Cultural Studies

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