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Cognitive science is beginning to make a contribution to the science-and-religion dialogue by its claims about the nature of both scientific and religious knowledge and the practices such knowledge informs. Of particular importance is the distinction between folk knowledge and abstract theoretical knowledge leading to a distinction between folk science and folk religion on the one hand and the reflective, theoretical, abstract form of thought that characterizes both advanced scientific thought and sophisticated theological reasoning on the other. Both folk science and folk religion emerge from commonsense reasoning about the world, a form of reasoning bequeathed to us by the processes of natural selection. Suggestions are made about what scientists and theologians can do if they accept these claims.

Keywords: cognitive science of religion; cognitive science of science; commonsense reasoning; creationism; evolutionary psychology; folk biology; folk physics; folk psychology; folk science; off-line reasoning; on-line reasoning

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Distinguished International Fellow at the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen's University, Belfast BT 7 1NN, Northern Ireland, and the editor of The Journal of Cognition and Culture;, Email:

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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