ORA Article: "Hallucinating God? The cognitive neuropsychiatry of religious belief and experience" - uuid:d6409506-5f22-4b82-bcc4-64f7cf5ad8f6




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Reference: Ryan McKay, (2004). Hallucinating God? The cognitive neuropsychiatry of religious belief and experience. Evolution and Cognition, 10 (1), 114-125.

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Title: Hallucinating God? The cognitive neuropsychiatry of religious belief and experience

Abstract: The claim that religious belief is delusional is evaluated using a current cognitive neuropsychiatric model of delusion formation and maintenance. This model explains delusions in terms of the conjunction of two cognitive deficits - the first a neuropsychological deficit giving rise to an anomalous perceptual experience, the second a deficit in the machinery of belief evaluation. It is argued that to provide an account of religious beliefs as delusional within this model, two requirements must be met: 1. Plausible candidates for the first factor must be put forward; and 2. There must exist individuals with aberrant religious perceptions who do not develop deluded beliefs about those experiences. With regard to requirement 1, a range of "neurotheological" research is reviewed. The second stated requirement is addressed via consideration of "mystic atheists" - individuals who have had mystical experiences yet have not adopted religious beliefs as a result. A variety of problematic issues for the above account are tackled. It is concluded that insight into the motivational basis for religious beliefs, when combined with OCCAM's principle of scientific parsimony, allows a plausible case to be made for religious belief as delusional, provided that a particular construal of belief pathology is adopted.

Publication status:Published
Peer Review status:Peer reviewed
Version:Accepted Manuscript
Notes:Citation: McKay, R. (2004). 'Hallucinating God? The cognitive neuropsychiatry of religious belief and experience', Evolution and Cognition, 10(1), 114-125. © 2004 Konrad Lorentz Institute for Evolution and Cognitive Research (KLI). N.B. Ryan McKay is now based at the School of Anthropology & Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford.
About The Authors
institutionMacquarie University, Australia
facultyMacquarie Centre for Cognitive Science
fundingNew South Wales Institute of Psychiatry
Bibliographic Details
Publisher: KLI Publications
Publisher Website: http://www.kli.ac.at
Host: Evolution and Cognition see more from them
Volume: 10
Issue: 1
Extent: 114-125
Issue Date: 2004
Copyright Date: 2004
Urn: uuid:d6409506-5f22-4b82-bcc4-64f7cf5ad8f6
Item Description
Type: Article: post-print;
Language: en
Version: Accepted Manuscript
Member of collection : ora:articles
Alternate metadata formats
Copyright Holder: KLI Publications
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