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  • Cited by 11
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    This chapter has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Lanman, Jonathan A. and Buhrmester, Michael D. 2016. Religious actions speak louder than words: exposure to credibility-enhancing displays predicts theism. Religion, Brain & Behavior, p. 1.


    Morgan, Jonathan 2016. Religion and dual-process cognition: a continuum of styles or distinct types?. Religion, Brain & Behavior, Vol. 6, Issue. 2, p. 112.


    Baker, Matthew J. and Robbins, Mandy 2012. American on-line atheists and psychological type. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, Vol. 15, Issue. 10, p. 1077.


    Johnson, Dominic 2012. What are atheists for? Hypotheses on the functions of non-belief in the evolution of religion. Religion, Brain & Behavior, Vol. 2, Issue. 1, p. 48.


    Johnson, Dominic 2012. Atheists: accidents of nature?. Religion, Brain & Behavior, Vol. 2, Issue. 1, p. 91.


    Barrett, Justin L. 2011. Cognitive Science of Religion: Looking Back, Looking Forward. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 50, Issue. 2, p. 229.


    Burris, Christopher T. and Petrican, Raluca 2011. Hearts Strangely Warmed (and Cooled): Emotional Experience in Religious and Atheistic Individuals. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, Vol. 21, Issue. 3, p. 183.


    Marsh, Timothy and Brown, Jac 2011. Homonegativity and its Relationship to Religiosity, Nationalism and Attachment Style. Journal of Religion and Health, Vol. 50, Issue. 3, p. 575.


    Geertz, Armin W. and Markússon, Guðmundur Ingi 2010. Religion is natural, atheism is not: On why everybody is both right and wrong. Religion, Vol. 40, Issue. 3, p. 152.


    Paley, John 2009. Religion and the secularisation of health care. Journal of Clinical Nursing, Vol. 18, Issue. 14, p. 1963.


    Zuckerman, Phil 2009. Atheism, Secularity, and Well-Being: How the Findings of Social Science Counter Negative Stereotypes and Assumptions. Sociology Compass, Vol. 3, Issue. 6, p. 949.


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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: January 2007

18 - Atheists: A Psychological Profile

from Part III - Implications
Summary

Those who have shaped the modern human sciences have been preoccupied with explaining the phenomena of religion and religiosity. Accounting for the absence of religious faith has never been of much concern to them. The reasons for the neglect of atheism as a phenomenon in need of explanation are twofold. First, religion, and religiosity, seem to be adhered to by the majority of humans, and thus explaining their existence and survival is called for. Second, explaining religious beliefs is urgently called for if those doing it do not share those beliefs. And this indeed has been the case. Most of the great names in the history of modern human sciences have been atheists or agnostics, and we can recall Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Emile Durkheim, Bronislaw Malinowski, and Max Weber. They looked at religion from the outside, and explaining why they did not believe in any of it was unnecessary.

ATHEISTS AS DEVIANTS

Most theories of religion assume that it stems from universal aspects of the human condition or the human mind. Classical explanations used the notions of such universal and automatic psychological processes as projection, animism, or anthropomorphism. In some more recent theoretical formulations (Boyer 2001; Atran 2002) the framework is cognitive-evolutionary and assumes that the brain is a machine operating according to rules developed through evolution. The question is that of the seeming plausibility of religious ideas for most humans. Religion uses the basic and ordinary cognitive processes that are the evolutionary endowments of every human. The belief in supernatural agents is a by-product of naturally selected cognitive mechanisms.

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The Cambridge Companion to Atheism
  • Online ISBN: 9781139001182
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL0521842700
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