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Cognitive Science of Religion and Belief Systems

Language:  English
This textbook introduces how human minds work, focusing on the neuroscience, physiology, cognitive and evolutionary psychology humans use to form their beliefs and belief systems.
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This textbook shows how human minds work, focusing on the neuroscience, physiology, cognitive and evolutionary psychology humans use to form their beliefs and belief systems, both religious and non-religious. Topics include the nature, causes and meaning of mystical experiences, Eastern versus Western psychology, brain hemispheres and different ways of processing sensory information, cognitive and evolutionary reasons behind the belief in and conceptions of gods, the epistemological problems caused by symbolic language, the influence of sensory abilities, and the potential influence of artificial intelligence, medicine and technology.

About the author

David Cycleback is Director of Center for Artifact Studies ( ), an internationally known scholar working in cognitive science, philosophy and artifacts history, and a best-selling author. He was runner-up for the International Book Award for Philosophy for Noise Music: Cognitive Psychology, Aesthetics and Epistemology and a four-time Eric Hoffer Award Finalist. In their second printing by China's National Photographic Art Publishing House, his guides Judging the Authenticity of Prints by the Masters and Judging the Authenticity of Photographs were the first comprehensive books on the subjects published in Asia, and Art Perception is one of four books students are recommended to study in preparation for India's Common Entrance Exam for Design (CEED) for postgraduate studies in technical design. He has been a practicum coordinator for the University of Washington, and an authenticity researcher for Arizona State University's Society for American Baseball Research. His other books include Cognitive Science of Religion and Belief Systems, Understanding Human Minds and Their Limits, Limits of Science, Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence, and Authenticating Art and Artifacts: An Introduction to Methods and Issues.
  1. Introduction
  2. A Brief Summary of the Book
  3. A Universe Beyond Humans Senses and Cognition
  4. Cognitive Psychology: An Introduction To How Human Brains Work And The Of Limits Of Human Knowledge And Understanding
    1. Introduction
    2. The Human Brain Is An Information Processor
    3. Ambiguity
    4. The Importance of Speed
    5. Unconscious Automatic Methods Used To Perceive
    6. Shape, Form And Pattern Biases
    7. Imagination
    8. Perceptions Via Comparison
    9. Attention
    10. Vision: What You See Is Different Than What You Look At
    11. The Unique Subjective Experience
    12. Automatic Perceptions And Uncorrectable Illusions
    13. Humans Cannot Know The Reliability Of Their Own Minds
    14. Final Notes
    15. Questions
    16. Further Reading
  5. The Brain’s Hemispheres And Different Ways Of Thinking
    1. Overview
    2. The Right And Left Hemispheres Of The Brain
    3. Videos
  6. Mystical Experiences
    1. Overview
    2. Methods For Obtaining Mystical Experiences
    3. Mystical Experiences Through Secular Practices
    4. The Debate About The Nature, Meaning And Authenticity Of The Mystical Experiences
    5. Mystical Experiences Demonstrate The Artificial Cognitive Constructs Of The Human Mind
    6. The Mystical Experience Is Explained Through One’s Culture, Language, Beliefs, Sensory Abilities, Biology
    7. Even Beyond These Differences Caused By The Beliefs, The Experiences Are Still Not Provable Of Truth
    8. Whether Real Or Not, Mystical Experiences Can Be Life Changing
    9. Summary: Key Points Of Chapter
    10. Further Reading
    11. Questions
  7. Mystical Experiences As The Genesis Of Religion, And John Hick’s Pluralism
    1. Further reading
    2. Questions
  8. Eastern Versus Western Psychology: Introduction
  9. Eastern Psychology
    1. Introduction
    2. Eastern Psychology, Philosophy And Theology As One Not Separates
    3. Eastern Psychology Focuses On Everyone, Not Just The Mentally Ill Or Troubled
    4. Eastern Psychology Is About Looking Inward At The Self
    5. Eastern Psychotherapy
    6. Eastern Psychology Is Concerned With Society And Earth, Not Just The Individual
    7. Question
  10. Western Psychology And The Scientific Method
    1. Introduction
    2. Western Psychology As A Science
    3. Structuralism
    4. Behaviorism
    5. Looking Inside: Cognitive Psychology
    6. Limits Of The Scientific Method, Including In Psychology
    7. Moving Beyond The Limits Of Science in Western Psychology
    8. Question
  11. Summary Of Eastern Versus Western Psychology, And The Differences Between The Spiritual and Scientific Views
    1. Overview
    2. Focus: Charles Towne On Religion And Science
    3. Natural Theology
    4. Questions
  12. The Constant Fight Between The Two Ways Of Thinking
  13. Art As Religion Or Spirituality
    1. Questions
  14. Art Perception: Connecting To The Unreal
    1. Introduction
    2. Art Perception is Irrational
    3. Humans interpret art using many of the cognitive methods they use in the real world
    4. Symbols
    5. Humans Mentally Adapt To And Accept New And Artificial Worlds
    6. Each Art Medium Is Limited In What It Can Show Literally
    7. Speculation, Play Acting, Day and Night Dreams
    8. Humans Know and Feel There Is More Than What They See And Can Comprehend, More Than What They Experience In Their Day To Day Lives
    9. Final Notes
    10. Questions
  15. Cognitive Influences Behind Beliefs In And Images of God
    1. Overview
    2. The Search And Desire For Order
    3. The Innate Tendency To Perceive Meaning And Purpose Behind Things And Events
    4. Humans Perceive Minds Beyond Their Own
    5. Anthropomorphism
    6. Humans Perceive Things, Everything, In Human Emotional Terms
    7. Humans Automatically Apply Narratives And Stories To Things
    8. Human Thinking, Including About the Existence Of God, Is Influenced By Experience, Education And Culture
    9. Religious Symbols And Texts Are Figurative And Translations
    10. One’s Style of Thinking Influences One’s Beliefs
    11. More Conscious Reasons
    12. Social Order
    13. These Processes Neither Prove Nor Disprove The Existence Of God
    14. Question
  16. Narrative And The Perception Of Still Information
    1. Narrative And Storytelling
    2. Aleatory Narrative In Art
    3. Assignment
    4. Questions
    5. Further Reading
  17. Humans Use False Information And Made Up Beliefs To Function And Achieve
    1. Overview
    2. The Rituals of Baseball
    3. Faith
    4. Positive Achievement Is Regularly Based On False Beliefs
    5. Olympic Psychology
    6. The Idolized
    7. This Practice in Religion
  18. Cognitive Dissonance
    1. Discussion Topic
  19. Attribution Substitution, And Why You Can’t Answer Affirmatively Or Negatively That You Believe In God
    1. Introduction
    2. Attribution Substitution
    3. Art Judgments
    4. “Do You Believe In God?”
  20. Humans Aren’t Totally Or Even Primarily About Finding Truth And Factual Accuracy
    1. Questions
  21. Language and Its Limitations: Introduction
  22.  Language: Examples Of Ambiguity, Arbitrariness And Limits In Language
    1. Ambiguity Of Language
    2. Ludwig Wittgenstein
    3. The Impossibleness In Translating Poetry
  23. Language: Subjective Categorization, Grouping And Prioritizing Of Information
    1. Overview
    2. So, If A Tree Falls When No One Is Around Does It Make A Sound?
    3. Loaded Words
    4. Discussion Question
  24. Language And Models: The Fiction In Science
    1. Introduction
    2. The Distortions Of A Map
    3. A Model Of An Atom
    4. Organize The Following Into Two Groups Of Related Objects
    5. The Scientist’s Purpose
    6. Question
  25. Summary Of Language And Its Problems
  26. Inborn Survival Drives
  27. The Human As Social Animal: Group Psychology, Social Intelligence, Etc
    1. Overview
    2. Swarm Intelligence
    3. Organized Religions
    4. Further Reading
  28. Non-Religious Belief Systems
  29. The Effects Of Artificial Intelligence
    1. Overview
    2. Studying AI Produces Significant Questions About Humans
  30. Modern Medicine, Technology, Transhumanism And Posthumanism
    1. Introduction
    2. Medicine
    3. Psychiatric And Other Drugs To Treat Mental Conditions
    4. Add On And Implants
    5. Eugenics, And Gene Editing And Therapy
    6. Brain-Computer Interfaces
    7. Expanding Human Senses
    8. Virtual Reality
    9. Brain Plasticity And Psychological Treatments
    10. New Methods Of Communication
    11. It’s Not Just New Technology, But What You Do With It
    12. The Future Is Unknown
    13. Expansion On An Artificial And Arbitrary Construct
    14. The Brain’s Left Hemisphere
    15. Changing Society
    16. Final Notes
    17. Question
  31. Summary And Final Thoughts
  32. Book Encompassing Questions
About the Author

David Cycleback