Robert McCauley - Why Religion is Natural (And Science is Not)

December 5, 2011

Host: Chris Mooney

Over the last decade, there have been many calls in the secular community for increased criticism of religion, and increased activism to help loosen its grip on the public.

But what if the human brain itself is aligned against that endeavor?

That's the argument made by cognitive scientist Robert McCauley in his new book, Why Religion is Natural and Science is Not.

In it, he lays out a cognitive theory about why our minds, from a very early state of development, seem predisposed toward religious belief—and not predisposed towards the difficult explanations and understandings that science offers.

If McCauley is right, spreading secularism and critical thinking may always be a difficult battle—although one no less worthy of undertaking.

Dr. McCauley is University Professor and Director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture at Emory University. He is also the author of Rethinking Religion and Bringing Ritual to Mind.

Books Mentioned in This Episode:


Rethinking Religion: Connecting Cognition and Culture E. Thomas Lawson, Robert N. McCauley