New Approaches to the Scientific Study of Religion

Religious Cognition in China

“Homo Religiosus” and the Dragon

Editors: Hornbeck, Ryan G., Barrett, Justin L., Kang, Madeleine (Eds.)

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  • Summarizes and discusses findings from the “Is Religion Natural? The Chinese Challenge” research project
  • Includes contributions from psychologists, anthropologists, and Chinese Studies scholars 
  • Presents new data refuting the longstanding myth of Chinese religious exceptionalism
  • Uniquely brings qualitative and quantitative data from China to bear on the naturalness theory of religious cognition
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About this book

Are human tendencies toward religious and spiritual thoughts, feelings, and actions outcomes of “natural” cognition? This volume revisits the “naturalness theory of religious cognition” through discussion of new qualitative and quantitative studies examining the psychological foundations of religious and spiritual expression in historical and contemporary China. Naturalness theory has been challenged on the grounds that little of its supporting developmental and experimental research has drawn on participants from predominantly secular cultural environments. Given China’s official secularity, its large proportion of atheists, and its alleged long history of dominant, nonreligious philosophies, can any broad claim for religion’s psychological “naturalness” be plausible? 

Addressing this empirical gap, the studies discussed in this volume support core naturalness theory predictions for human reasoning about supernatural agency, intelligent design, the efficacy of rituals, and vitalistic causality. And yet each study elucidates, expands upon, or even challenges outright the logical assumptions of the naturalness theory. Written for a non-specialist audience, this volume introduces the naturalness theory and frames the significance of these new findings for students and scholars of cultural psychology, the psychology of religion, the anthropology of religion, and Chinese Studies.

About the authors

Ryan G. Hornbeck is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Xiamen University. His research interests include the scientific study of religion, digital culture, experimental ethnography, and interdisciplinary collaboration. His articles have appeared in International Journal of the Psychology of ReligionGames and CultureJournal of Cognition and Culture, and European Journal of Philosophy of Religion. He holds a DPhil in anthropology from the University of Oxford. 

Justin L. Barrett is the Chief Project Developer for the office for Science, Theology, and Religion initiatives at Fuller Theological Seminary. He also serves as program chair for the doctorate in psychological science. He came to Fuller from the University of Oxford, U.K., where he taught and served as senior researcher for Oxford’s Centre for Anthropology and Mind and the Institute for Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology. He has also taught at the University of Michigan and Calvin College. Barrett’s academic work has concerned cognitive scientific approaches to the study of religion. His current research interests include cognitive, evolutionary, and psychological approaches to the study of religion; cognitive approaches to the study of culture and archaeology generally; and religious and character development in children and adolescents. Barrett’s book publications include Why Would Anyone Believe in God? (2004, AltaMira), Psychology of Religion (ed., 2010, Routlege), Cognitive Science, Religion, and Theology (2011, Templeton Press), Born Believers: The Science of Children’s Religious Belief (2012, Free Press), and  and The Roots of Religion: Exploring the Cognitive Science of Religion (with Roger Trigg, Ashgate, 2014).  

Madeleine Kang is a writer, editor, and Cornell University alumnus. She was a featured writer for the 2017 CBS Diversity Showcase and was named a semi-finalist for the 2017 Second City Original Sitcom contest.

Table of contents (14 chapters)

Table of contents (14 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $79.99
price for USA in USD (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-62954-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $99.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-3-319-62952-0
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $99.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-3-319-87437-1
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Religious Cognition in China
Book Subtitle
“Homo Religiosus” and the Dragon
Editors
  • Ryan G. Hornbeck
  • Justin L. Barrett
  • Madeleine Kang
Series Title
New Approaches to the Scientific Study of Religion
Series Volume
2
Copyright
2017
Publisher
Springer International Publishing
Copyright Holder
Springer International Publishing AG
eBook ISBN
978-3-319-62954-4
DOI
10.1007/978-3-319-62954-4
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-319-62952-0
Softcover ISBN
978-3-319-87437-1
Series ISSN
2367-3494
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
VIII, 221
Number of Illustrations
6 b/w illustrations
Topics