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Encyclopedia > Psychology of religion

Psychology of religion is psychology's theory of religious experiences and beliefs. Psychology (ancient Greek: psyche = soul or mind, logos/-ology = study of) is an academic and applied field involving the study of mind and behavior. ... Theory has a number of distinct meanings in different fields of knowledge, depending on the context and their methodologies. ... Fishers of men; Oil on panel by Adriaen van de Venne (1614) Religion (see etymology below) —sometimes used interchangeably with faith or belief system—is commonly defined as belief concerning the supernatural, sacred, or divine; and the moral codes, practices, values, institutions and rituals associated with such belief. ... In religious experience, or sacred experience, the believer comes in contact with transcendental reality. ... Look up belief on Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


Psychoanalytical studies

Sigmund Freud: Oedipus complex, illusion

Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) gave explanations of the genesis of religion in his various writings. In Totem and Taboo, he applied the idea of the Oedipus complex (involving unresolved sexual feelings of, for example, a son toward his mother and hostility toward his father) and postulated its emergence in the primordial stage of human development. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (460x640, 25 KB) From [1]: A. Max Halberstadt, photographer. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (460x640, 25 KB) From [1]: A. Max Halberstadt, photographer. ... Sigmund Freud Sigmund Freud [] (May 6, 1856–September 23, 1939) was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology, based on his theory that human development is best understood in terms of changing objects of sexual desire; that the unconscious often represses wishes (generally of a... Totem and Taboo: Some Points of Agreement Between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics was a book written by Sigmund Freud published in 1913 (originally in German: ). It was a collection of four essays which had been published in the journal Imago from 1912-1913 as an application of... The Oedipus complex is a concept developed by Sigmund Freud, who inspired Carl Jung (he described the concept and coined the term Complex), to explain the maturation of the infant boy through identification with the father and desire for the mother. ...

In Moses and Monotheism, Freud reconstructed biblical history in accord with his general theory. His ideas were also developed in The Future of an Illusion. When Freud spoke of religion as an illusion, he maintained that it is a fantasy structure from which a man must be set free if he is to grow to maturity. Moses and Monotheism is a book by Sigmund Freud. ... The Future of an Illusion (written 1927) by Sigmund Freud is a book that describes his interpretation of religions origins, development, psychoanalysis, and its future. ... An illusion is a distortion of a sensory perception. ...

Freud views the idea of God as being a version of the father image, and religious belief as at bottom infantile and neurotic. Authoritarian religion is dysfunctional and alienates man from himself. God is the term used to denote the Supreme Being ascribed by monotheistic religions to be the creator, ruler and/or the sum total of, existence. ... A father is traditionally the male parent of a child. ... A neurosis, in psychoanalytic theory, is an ineffectual coping strategy that Sigmund Freud suggested was caused by emotions from past experience overwhelming or interfering with present experience. ...

Carl Jung: Universal archetypes

The Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung (1875–1961) adopted a very different posture, one that was more sympathetic to religion and more concerned with a positive appreciation of religious symbolism. Jung considered the question of the existence of God to be unanswerable by the psychologist and adopted a kind of agnosticism. Carl Jung Carl Gustav Jung (July 26, 1875 – June 6, 1961) (IPA:) was a Swiss psychiatrist and founder of Analytical Psychology. ... Religious symbolism is the term used to describe the use of symbols (archetypes, acts, artwork, events, or natural phenomenae) by a religion for various purposes. ... It has been suggested that Nontheism be merged into this article or section. ...

Jung postulated, in addition to the personal unconscious (roughly as in Freud), the collective unconscious, which is the repository of human experience and which contains “archetypes” (i.e. basic images that are universal in that they recur regardless of culture). The irruption of these images from the unconscious into the realm of consciousness he viewed as the basis of religious experience and often of artistic creativity. Some of Jung's writings have been devoted to elucidating some of the archetypal symbols, and include his work in comparative mythology. The unconscious mind (or subconscious) is the aspect (or puported aspect) of the mind of which we are not directly conscious or aware. ... Collective unconscious is a term of analytical psychology, and was originally coined by Carl Jung. ... Archetype is defined as an original model of which all other similar persons, objects, or concepts are merely derivative, copied, patterned, or emulated. ... In religious experience, or sacred experience, the believer comes in contact with transcendental reality. ... Comparative mythology, related to comparative religion, is a field of study which is technically part of anthropology but more usually regarded as part of the subject of ancient history. ...

Jung had a very broad view of what it means to be empirical. Suppose, for example, that I hear a voice from deity but you do not, even though we are sitting next to each other. If only one person experiences something, for Jung it is an empirical observation. For most contemporary scientists, however, it would not be considered an empirical observation. Because of this, there has been little research in the psychology of religion from a Jungian perspective.

Erich Fromm: Desire, need for stable frame

The American scholar Erich Fromm (1900–1980) modified Freudian theory and produced a more complex account of the functions of religion. Part of the modification is viewing the Oedipus complex as based not so much on sexuality as on a “much more profound desire”, namely, the childish desire to remain attached to protecting figures. The right religion, in Fromm's estimation, can, in principle, foster an individual's highest potentialities, but religion in practice tends to relapse into being neurotic. Erich Fromm Erich Fromm (March 23, 1900 – March 18, 1980) was an internationally renowned German-American psychologist and humanistic philosopher. ... The Oedipus complex is a concept developed by Sigmund Freud, who inspired Carl Jung (he described the concept and coined the term Complex), to explain the maturation of the infant boy through identification with the father and desire for the mother. ...

According to Erich Fromm, humans have a need for a stable frame of reference. Religion apparently fills this need. In effect, humans crave answers to questions that no other source of knowledge has an answer to, which only religion may seem to answer. However, a sense of free will must be given in order for religion to appear healthy. An authoritarian notion of religion appears detrimental.

Other studies

William James: Personal religious experience, pragmatism

William James
William James

U.S. psychologist and philosopher William James (1842–1910) served as president of the American Psychological Association, and wrote one of the first psychology textbooks. In the psychology of religion, James's influence endures. His Varieties of Religious Experience is considered to be the classic work in the field, and is worth reading for anyone interested in psychology and religion. Indeed, references to James's ideas are common at professional conferences. william james (1906) This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... william james (1906) This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... William James William James (January 11, 1842, New York – August 26, 1910, Chocorua, New Hampshire) was a pioneering psychologist and philosopher. ...

James distinguished between institutional religion and personal religion. Institutional religion refers to the religious group or organisation, and plays an important part in a society's culture. Personal religion, in which the individual has a mystical experience, can be experienced regardless of the culture. James was most interested in understanding personal religious experience.

If personal religious experiences were what James preferred, dogmatism was something he disliked. The importance of James to the psychology of religion – and to psychology more generally – is difficult to overstate. He discussed many essential issues that remain of vital concern today.

In studying personal religious experiences, James made a distinction between healthy-minded and sick-souled religiousness. Individuals predisposed to healthy-mindedness tend to ignore the evil in the world and focus on the positive and the good. James used examples of Walt Whitman and the "mindcure" religious movement to illustrate healthy-mindedness in The Varieties of Religious Experience. In contrast, individuals predisposed to having a sick-souled religion are unable to ignore evil and suffering, and need a unifying experience, religious or otherwise, to reconcile good and evil. James included quotes from Leo Tolstoy and John Bunyan to illustrate the sick soul. Walt Whitman Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist, journalist, and humanist born on Long Island, New York. ... Leo Tolstoy, pictured late in life Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (?) (Russian: Лев Никола́евич Толсто́й; commonly referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy) (September 9, 1828 – November 20, 1910, N.S.; August 28, 1828 – November 7, 1910, O.S.) was a Russian novelist, social reformer, pacifist, Christian anarchist, vegetarian, moral thinker and an influential... John Bunyan. ...

William James hypothesis of pragmatism stems from the efficacy of religion. If an individual believes in and performs religious activities, and those actions happen to work, then that practice appears the proper choice for the individual. However, if the processes of religion have little efficacy, then there is no rationality for continuing the practice.

Alfred Adler: Feeling of inferiority, perfection

Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler (1870–1937), who parted ways with Freud, emphasised the role of goals and motivation in his Individual Psychology. One of Adler's most famous ideas is that we try to compensate for inferiorities that we perceive in ourselves. A lack of power often lies at the root of feelings of inferiority. One way that religion enters into this picture is through our beliefs in God, which are characteristic of our tendency to strive for perfection and superiority. For example, in many religions God is considered to be perfect and omnipotent, and commands people likewise to be perfect. If we, too, achieve perfection, we become one with God. By identifying with God in this way, we compensate for our imperfections and feelings of inferiority. Dr. Alfred Adler Alfred Adler (February 7, 1870 – May 28, 1937) was an Austrian medical doctor and psychologist, founder of the school of individual psychology. ...

Our ideas about God are important indicators of how we view the world. According to Adler, these ideas have changed over time, as our vision of the world – and our place in it – has changed. Consider this example that Adler offers: the traditional belief that people were placed deliberately on earth as God's ultimate creation is being replaced with the idea that people have evolved by natural selection. This coincides with a view of God not as a real being, but as an abstract representation of nature's forces. In this way our view of God has changed from one that was concrete and specific to one that is more general. From Adler's vantage point, this is a relatively ineffective perception of God because it is so general that it fails to convey a strong sense of direction and purpose. Natural selection is the name Charles Darwin gave to the principal process through which new species emerge, or evolve. ...

An important thing for Adler is that God (or the idea of God) motivates people to act, and that those actions do have real consequences for ourselves and for others. Our view of God is important because it embodies our goals and directs our social interactions.

Compared to science, another social movement, religion is more efficient because it motivates people more effectively. According to Adler, only when science begins to capture the same religious fervour, and promotes the welfare of all segments of society, will the two be more equal in people's eyes. Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Science For the scientific journal named Science, see Science (journal). ... Welfare has four main meanings. ...

Ludwig Feuerbach: Imagination, wishes, fear of death

Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach (1804–72), in his work The Essence of Christianity (1841), set up a criticism of Christian religion. This article refers to the philosopher. ... The neutrality of this article is disputed. ...

The "omnipotence of feeling" in human nature leads to a variety of religious faith: the faith in providence, which is a form of confidence in the infinite value of one's own existence; faith in miracle, the confidence that the gods are unfettered by natural necessity and can realise one's wishes in an instant; and faith in immortality, the certainty that the gods will not permit the individual to perish.

Imagination (Phantasie) is the original organ of religion. The imagination, unlike abstract thought, produces images that have the power to stir the feelings and emotions. Human beings are sensuous creatures who require sensuous images as vehicles for their hopes and dreams. Feuerbach explained the difference between polytheism and monotheism as a result of the imagination being fascinated by the multiplicity of beings, in the former case, and by the coherence and unity of the world, in the latter case. The Christian imagination, however, closes its eyes to nature, separates the personified essence of nature entirely from sense perception and transforms what was originally nature into an abstract, unified metaphysical being. Feuerbach attributed the psychological hold of Christianity on humans to lie in its assurance of personal recognition by the Divine and the hope of immortality. Imagination is, in general, the power or process of producing mental images and ideas. ... Polytheism is belief in, or worship of, multiple gods or divinities. ... Monotheism (in Greek μόνος = single and θεός = God) is the belief in a single, universal, all-encompassing deity. ... The neutrality of this article is disputed. ...

As a conscious being bent on its own fulfilment, the person has purposes, needs, and desires, the shadow side of which is the awareness that these may be frustrated. Hence, all wishes are accompanied by anxiety and fear, a pervading sense of the nothingness that clings to all human activity. With the wish that this nothingness be removed, the conception of the gods arises.

The gods represent the unity of willing (Wollen) and being able to succeed (Können). A god is simply a being in which this distinction has been annulled. "Where there are no wishes there are no gods."

For Feuerbach the supernatural deities arise from the fears and desires people have of fearsome aspects of nature. For example, lightning, fire, flood, and other catastrophes appear attributed to the effective intranquality between humans and their higher deity, or perhaps between a conflict between higher deities. The Nature Conservancy - a charitable organization devoted to preserving natural diversity worldwide English Nature UK government organization devoted to preserving natural diversity in the UK Nature Detectives An online research and education project for under 18s in the UK A Guide to Nature and Wildlife Conservation Categories: | ... Lightning over Pentagon City in Arlington County, Virginia Lightning is a powerful natural electrostatic discharge produced during a thunderstorm. ... It has been suggested that flame be merged into this article or section. ... Look up Flood in Wiktionary, the free dictionary A flood (in Old English flod, a word common to Teutonic languages; compare German Flut, Dutch vloed from the same root as is seen in flow, float) is an overflow of water, an expanse of water submerging land, a deluge. ... A natural disaster is a catastrophe that occurs when a hazardous physical event (such as a volcanic eruption, earthquake, landslide, hurricane, or any of the other natural phenomena listed below) precipitates extensive damage to property, a large number of casualties, or both. ...

Gordon Allport: Mature and immature religion

In his classic book The Individual and His Religion, Gordon Allport (1897–1967) illustrates how people may use religion in different ways. He makes a distinction between Mature religion and Immature religion. Mature religious sentiment is how Allport characterised the person whose approach to religion is dynamic, open-minded, and able to maintain links between inconsistencies. In contrast, immature religion is self-serving and generally represents the negative stereotypes that people have about religion. More recently, this distinction has been encapsulated in the terms "intrinsic religion", referring to a genuine, heartfelt devout faith, and "extrinsic religion", referring to a more utilitarian use of religion as a means to an end, such as church attendance to gain social status. These dimensions of religion were measured on the Religious Orientation Scale of Allport and Ross (1967). A third form of religious orientation, called quest, has been described by Daniel Batson (b. 1943). This refers to treatment of religion as an open-ended search (Batson, Schoenrade & Ventis, 1993). Gordon Willard Allport (November 11, 1897 - October 9 1967) was born in Montezuma, Indiana, in 1897. ... Self might refer to various different things: Look up self on Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The word faith has various uses; its central meaning is similar to belief, trust or confidence, but unlike these terms, faith tends to imply a transpersonal rather than interpersonal relationship – with God or a higher power. ... A church building (or simply church) is a building used in Christian worship. ... This article is about the word, for other meanings see Quest (disambiguation) A quest is a journey towards a goal with great meaning and is used in mythology and literature as a plot device. ...

Erik H. Erikson: Influence on personality development

Erik Erikson (1902–94) is best known for his theory of psychological development, which has its roots in the psychoanalytic importance of identity in personality. His biographies of Gandhi and Luther reveal Erikson's positive view of religion. He considered religions to be important influences in successful personality development because they are the primary way that cultures promote the virtues associated with each stage of life. Religious rituals facilitate this development. Erikson's theory has not benefited from systematic empirical study, but it remains an influential and well-regarded theory in the psychological study of religion. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948) (Devanagari: मोहनदास करमचन्द गांधी, Gujarati મોહનદાસ કરમચંદ ગાંધી), called Mahatma Gandhi, was the charismatic leader who brought the cause of Indias independence from British colonial rule to world attention. ... For other people named Martin Luther see: Martin Luther (disambiguation), or here for Martin Luther King, Jr. ... It has been suggested that Personality psychology be merged into this article or section. ... Virtue (Greek αρετη; Latin virtus) is the habitual, well-established, readiness or diposition of mans powers directing them to some goodness of act. ... A ritual is a formalised, predetermined set of symbolic actions generally performed in a particular environment at a regular, recurring interval. ...

Rudolf Otto: Non-rational experience

Rudolf Otto (1869–1937) was a German Protestant theologian and scholar of comparative religion. Otto's most famous work, The Idea of the Holy (published first in 1917 as Das Heilige), defines the concept of the holy as that which is numinous. Otto explained the numinous as a "non-rational, non-sensory experience or feeling whose primary and immediate object is outside the self." It is a mystery (Latin: mysterium tremendum) that is both fascinating (fascinans) and terrifying at the same time; A mystery that causes trembling and fascination, attempting to explain that inexpressible and perhaps supernatural emotional reaction of wonder drawing us to seemingly ordinary and/or religious experiences of grace. This sense of emotional wonder appears evident at the root of all religious experiences. Through this emotional wonder, we suspend our rational mind for non-rational possibilities. Rudolf Otto (September 25, 1869 - 6 March 1937) was an eminent German protestant theologian and scholar of comparative religion. ... Protestantism is a general grouping of denominations within Christianity. ... Holiness means the state of being holy, that is, set apart for the worship or service of a god or gods. ... In modern colloquial English, a mystery is a subgenre of detective fiction (see mystery fiction). ... The supernatural (Latin: super- exceeding + nature) refers to forces and phenomena which are beyond the current scientific understanding and concept of nature, and which may actually directly contradict conventional scientific understandings. ... Emotions are essentially impulses that move an organism to action, originating automatic reaction behavior which has been adapted through evolution as a survival need. ... See: The Seven Wonders of the World The television series Small Wonder. ... Divine grace is believed by Christians to be the sovereign favor of God exercised in the bestowment of blessings upon those who have no merit in them. ...

It also sets a paradigm for the study of religion that focuses on the need to realise the religious as a non-reducible, original category in its own right. This paradigm was under much attack between approximately 1950 and 1990 but has made a strong comeback since then. Since the late 1800s, the word paradigm (IPA: ) has referred to a thought pattern in any scientific discipline or other epistemological context. ...

Psychometric approaches to religion

Since the 1960s psychologists of religion have used the methodology of psychometrics to assess different ways in which a person may be religious. An example is the Religious Orientation Scale of Allport and Ross (1967), which measures how respondents stand on intrinsic and extrinsic religion as described by Allport. More recent questionnaires include the Religious Life Inventory of Batson, Schoenrade and Ventis (1993), and the Age-Universal I-E Scale of Gorsuch and Venable (1983). The former assesses where people stand on three distinct forms of religious orientation – religion as means, religion as end, and religion as quest. The latter assesses Spiritual Support and Spiritual Openness. For information regarding the parapsychology phenomenon of distance knowledge, see psychometry. ... Allport may mean: Gordon Allport (psychologist) Allport, Arkansas This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Ross is the name of many places: Ross or Ross-shire is an area in Scotland. ... Allport may mean: Gordon Allport (psychologist) Allport, Arkansas This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists pages that might otherwise share the same title. ...

Religious Orientations and Religious Dimensions

Some questionnaires, such as the Religious Orientation Scale, relate to different religious orientations, such as intrinsic and extrinsic religiousness, referring to different motivations for religious allegiance. A rather different approach, taken, for example, by Glock and Stark (1965), has been to list different dimensions of religion rather than different religious orientations, which relates to how an individual may manifest different forms of being religious. (More on Stark's work can be found in the article on Sociology of Religion.) Glock and Stark's famous typology described five dimensions of religion – the doctrinal, the intellectual, the ethical-consequential, the ritual, and the intellectual. In later work these authors subdivided the ritual dimension into devotional and public ritual, and also clarified that their distinction of religion along multiple dimensions was not identical to distinguishing religious orientations. Although some psychologists of religion have found it helpful to take a multidimensional approach to religion for the purpose of psychometric scale design, there has been, as Wulff (1997) explains, considerable controversy about whether religion should really be seen as multidimensional. The sociology of religion is – among other elements – the study of the practices, social structures, historical backgrounds, development, universal themes, and roles of religion in society. ...

Questionnaires to assess religious experience

Since 1970 various questionnaires have been developed to assess religious experiences, including Hood's (1975) M-Scale and the Francis-Louden Mystical Orientation Scale (Francis & Louden, 2000). Hood's M-Scale is relevant to mysticism. A more recent psychometric approach than that proposed by Allport and Ross (1967) has come from Vicky Genia (Genia, 1997). Genia has developed the Spiritual Experience Index (S.E.I.), on which people are assessed on two orthogonal dimensions – spiritual support, referring to gaining solace from religion; and spiritual openness, referring to openness to different spiritual traditions. She has argued that the most mature forms of spirituality are those high in both spiritual support and spiritual openness. She proposes that people go through stages to reach this peak of spiritual maturity, making her work relevant to developmental approaches to religion. A comprehensive list of questionnaires used in psychometric approaches to the study of religion is given in Hill and Hood (1999). Hill and Pargament (2003) have answered many of the criticisms that may be levelled against psychometric approaches to the study of religion, in an article which considers the problems inherent in attempts to distinguish religion and spirituality. ... ...

Developmental approaches to religion

Attempts have been made to apply stage models, such as that of Jean Piaget, to how children develop ideas about God and about religion in general. Jean Piaget (August 9, 1896–September 16, 1980) was a Swiss developmental psychologist, famous for his work with children and his theory of cognitive development. ...

By far the most well-known stage model of spiritual or religious development is that of James Fowler (Stages of Faith - ISBN 0060628669), which traces spiritual development across the lifespan. The book-length study contains a framework and ideas considered by many to be insightful and which have generated a good deal of response from those interested in religion, so it appears to have at least a reasonable degree of face validity. From the standpoint of scientific research, however, it is methodologically weak. Of Fowler's six stages, only the first two found empirical support, and these were heavily based upon Piaget's stages of cognitive development. The tables and graphs in the book were presented in such a way that the last four stages appeared to be validated, but the requirements of statistical verification of the stages did not come close to having been met. The study was not published in a journal, so was not peer-reviewed, and never drew much attention from psychologists. Nevertheless, the concepts Fowler introduced seemed to hit home with those in the circles of academic religion, and have been an important starting point for various theories and subsequent studies. In psychometrics, content validity (also known as logical validity) refers to the extent to which a measure represents all facets of a given social concept. ... Scientific method as envisaged by one of its early exponents, Sir Isaac Newton, is fundamental to the investigation and acquisition of new knowledge based upon physical evidence. ... The theory of cognitive development is a developmental psychology theory developed by Jean Piaget to explain cognitive development. ... For Wikipedia statistics, see m:Statistics Statistics is the science and practice of developing human knowledge through the use of empirical data expressed in quantitative form. ... Religious studies is the multi-disciplinary, secular study of religion. ...

A recent contributor here has put forward a stage model, Vicky Genia (see information in Psychometric Approaches to Religion). Psychology of religion is psychologys theory of religious experiences and beliefs. ...

Religion and coping with stress

Psychologists of religion have looked at how individuals may use religion as a resource in coping with stress. A major contributor here is Kenneth Pargament, whose work shows the influence of attribution theory. Pargament has distinguished styles of coping into the deferring, in which people leave God to see to their problems; the non-religious, in which they do not appeal to God; and the collaborative, in which people believe that a co-operation of God and their own efforts are necessary to help them to cope with stress. Some of Pargament's papers have been published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. Stress (roughly the opposite of relaxation) is a medical term for a wide range of strong external stimuli, both physiological and psychological, which can cause a physiological response called the general adaptation syndrome, first described in 1936 by Hans Selye in the journal Nature. ... Attribution theory is a field of social psychology, which was born out of the theoritical models of Fritz Heider, Harold Kelley, Edward E. Jones, and Lee Ross. ...

Evolutionary psychology of religion

Evolutionary psychology is based on the presumption that, just like hearts, lungs, livers, kidneys, and immune systems, cognition has functional structure that has a genetic basis, and therefore evolved by natural selection. Like other organs and tissues, this functional structure should be universally shared amongst humans and should solve important problems of survival and reproduction. Evolutionary psychologists seek to understand cognitive processes by understanding the survival and reproductive functions they might serve. Evolutionary psychology (abbreviated ev-psych or EP) proposes that animal psychology can be better understood in light of evolution. ... Look up Cognition in Wiktionary, the free dictionary The term cognition (Latin, cogito: to think) is used in several different loosely related ways. ... Natural selection is the name Charles Darwin gave to the principal process through which new species emerge, or evolve. ...

Pascal Boyer is one of the leading figures in the cognitive psychology of religion, a new field of inquiry that is less than fifteen years old, which accounts for the psychological processes that underlie religious thought and practice. In his book Religion Explained, Boyer shows that there is no simple explanation for religious consciousness. Boyer is mainly concerned with explaining the various psychological processes involved in the acquisition and transmission of ideas concerning the gods. Pascal Boyer is an advocate of the idea that human instincts provide us with the basis for an intuitive theory of mind that guides our social relations and morality. ... Consciousness is a quality of the mind generally regarded to comprise such key features as subjectivity, self-awareness, sentience, sapience, and the ability to perceive the relationship between oneself and ones environment. ...

Religious persons acquire religious ideas and practices through social exposure. The child of a Zen Buddhist will not become an evangelical Christian or a Zulu warrior without the relevant cultural experience. While mere exposure does not cause a particular religious outlook (a person may have been raised a Roman Catholic but leave the church), nevertheless some exposure seems required – this person will never invent Roman Catholicism out of thin air. Boyer claims that cognitive science can help us to understand the psychological mechanisms that account for these manifest correlations and in so doing enable us to better understand the nature of religious belief and practice. To the extent that the mechanisms controlling the acquisitions and transmission of religious concepts rely on human brains, the mechanisms are open to computational analysis. All though is computationally structured, including religious thought. So presumably, computational approaches can shed light on the nature and scope of religious cognition. Bodhidharma, woodblock print by Yoshitoshi, 1887. ... A replica of an ancient statue found among the ruins of a temple at Sarnath Buddhism is a philosophy based on the teachings of the Buddha, Siddhārtha Gautama, a prince of the Shakyas, whose lifetime is traditionally given as 566 to 486 BCE. It had subsequently been accepted by... As a noun, Christian is an appellation and moniker deriving from the appellation Christ, which many people associate exclusively with Jesus of Nazareth. ... The Zulu are an African ethnic group of about 11 million people who live mainly in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. ... The Roman Catholic Church, most often spoken of simply as the Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with over one billion members. ... A church building (or simply church) is a building used in Christian worship. ... Rendering of human brain based on MRI data Cognitive science is usually defined as the scientific study either of mind or of intelligence (e. ... Brains has several meanings. ...

Boyer moves outside the leading currents in mainstream cognitive psychology and suggests that we can use evolutionary biology to unravel the relevant mental architecture. Our brains are, after all, biological objects, and the best naturalistic account of design in nature is Darwin's theory of evolution. To the extent that mental architecture exhibits intricate design, it is plausible to think that the design is the result of evolutionary processes working over vast periods of time. Like all biological systems, the mind is optimised to promote survival and reproduction in the evolutionary environment. On this view all specialised cognitive functions broadly serve those reproductive ends. Cognitive psychology is the psychological science that studies cognition, the mental processes that underlie behavior, including thinking, deciding, reasoning, and to some extent motivation and emotion. ... This article is about biological evolution. ... Reproduction is the creation of one thing as a copy of, product of, or replacement for a similar thing, e. ...

For Steven Pinker the universal propensity toward religious belief is a genuine scientific puzzle. He thinks that adaptationist explanations for religion do not meet the criteria for adaptations. An alternative explanation is that religious psychology is a by-product of many parts of the mind that evolved for other purposes. Steven Pinker Steven Pinker (born September 18, 1954, in Montreal, Canada) is one of the most prominent cognitive scientists today. ... Maynard Smith was a proponent Adaptationism is the view that all or most traits are adaptations. ...

Religion and drugs

Karl Marx: Religion as opium of the people

Karl Marx famously asserted religion to be "the opium of people" (sometimes quoted in English as "the opiate of the masses"). He stated that "Morals, religion, metaphysics and other forms of ideology and the forms of consciousness corresponding to them no longer retain their apparent independence. It is not consciousness that determines life, but life that determines consciousness." Karl Heinrich Marx (May 5, 1818 Trier, Germany – March 14, 1883 London) was an influential philosopher, political economist, and revolutionary organizer of the International Workingmens Association. ... Religion. ...

Marx compared religion to opium (a drug that lessens pain and creates fantasies) because he saw religion playing the same role in the life of the people. Through religion the life of the pained workers that suffered in a cruel and exploitative world was eased by the fantasy of a supernatural world void of all sorrow and oppression. In this perspective he saw religion as escapism. Opium is a narcotic analgesic drug which is obtained from the unripe seed pods of the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum L. or the synonym paeoniflorum). ... Escapism is mental diversion by means of entertainment or recreation, as an escape from the unpleasant aspects of daily reality. ...

James H. Leuba: Mystical experience and drugs

The American psychologist James H. Leuba (1868–1946), in A Psychological Study of Religion, accounts for mystical experience psychologically and physiologically, pointing to analogies with certain drug-induced experiences. Leuba argued forcibly for a naturalistic treatment of religion, which he considered to be necessary if religious psychology were to be looked at scientifically. Shamans all over the world and in different cultures have traditionally used drugs, especially psychedelics, for their religious experiences. In these communities the absorption of drugs leads to dreams (visions) through a sensory perception distorted. James Henry Leuba (1867-1946) was an American psychologist, best known for his contributions to the Psychology of Religion. ... A psychoactive drug or psychotropic substance is a chemical that alters brain function, resulting in temporary changes in perception, mood, consciousness, or behaviour. ...

William James was also interested in mystical experiences from a drug-induced perspective, leading him to make some experiments with nitrous oxide and even peyote. He concludes that while the revelations of the mystic hold true, they hold true only for the mystic; for others they are certainly ideas to be considered, but hold no claim to truth without personal experience of such. William James William James (January 11, 1842, New York – August 26, 1910, Chocorua, New Hampshire) was a pioneering psychologist and philosopher. ...

Drug-induced religious experiences

The drugs used by religious communities for their hallucinogenic effects were adopted for explicit and implicit religious functions and purposes. The drugs were and are reported to enhance religious experience through visions and a distortion of the sensory perception (like in dreams in a state of sleep). A psychoactive drug or psychotropic substance is a chemical that alters brain function, resulting in temporary changes in perception, mood, consciousness, or behaviour. ... Certain drugs can affect the subjective qualities of perception, thought or emotion, resulting in altered interpretations of sensory input, alternate states of consciousness, or hallucinations. ...

  • Cannabis sativa, which grows all over the world except in very cold climates, is used in religious practices in Indian and African communities
  • Certain Hallucinogenic Mushrooms are used by cultists among the Indians in Latin America, especially in the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico. The chief species is Psilocybe mexicana, of which the active principles are psilocybin and its derivative psilocin, in their chemical composition and activity not unlike LSD (D-lysergic acid diethylamide); the latter is synthesised from the alkaloids (principally ergotamine and ergonovine) that are constituents of ergot, a growth present in grasses affected by the disease also called ergot. Amanita muscaria (fly agaric) is another mushroom having hallucinogenic properties that has not been thoroughly studied. It may be extremely important, since it may have been the natural source of the ritual soma drink of the ancient Hindus and the comparable haoma used by the Zoroastrians. Fly agaric is mildly toxic at high dosages and is said to have, in addition to its hallucinogenic properties, the ability to increase strength and endurance. It is said also to be a soporific.
  • Peyote used by some Indian communities of Mexico. The chief active principle of peyote is an alkaloid called mescaline. Like psilocin and psilocybin, mescaline is reputed to produce visions and other evidences of a mystical nature. Despite claims of missionaries and some government agents that peyote – from the Nahuatl word peyotl ("divine messenger") – is a degenerative and dangerous drug, there appears to be no evidence of this among the members of the Native American Church, a North American Indian cult that uses peyote in its chief religious ceremony. Peyote, like most other hallucinogenic drugs, is not considered to be addictive and, far from being a destructive influence, is reputed by cultists and some observers to promote morality and ethical behaviour among the Indians who use it ritually.
  • Ayahuasca, caapi, or yajé, is produced from the stem bark of the vines Banisteriopsis caapi and B. inebrians. Indians who use it claim that its virtues include healing powers and the power to induce clairvoyance, among others. This drink has been certified by investigators to produce remarkable effects, often involving the sensation of flying. The effects are thought to be attributable to the action of harmine, a very stable indole that is the active principle in the plant. While the Indians themselves attribute the properties of the drink Ayahuasca to B. caapi, this is not the common scientific view; the MAOIs present in the B. caapi instead allow the extremely psychedelic ingredients in other plants added to the brew, noticeably plants containing DMT, to be activated and produce an intense experience.
  • Kava drink, prepared from the roots of Piper methysticum, a species of pepper, and seemingly more of a hypnotic-narcotic than a hallucinogen, is used both socially and ritually in the South Pacific, especially in Polynesia.
  • Iboga, or ibogaine, a powerful stimulant and hallucinogen derived from the root of the African shrub Tabernanthe iboga (and, like psilocybin and harmine, a chemical relative of LSD) is used by the Bwiti cult in Central Africa.
  • Coca, source of cocaine, has had both ritual and social use chiefly in Peru.
  • Datura, one species of which is the jimsonweed, is used by native peoples in North and South America; the active principle, however, is highly toxic and dangerous. A drink prepared from the shrub Mimosa hostilis, which is said to produce glorious visions in warriors before battle, is used ritually in the ajuca ceremony of the Jurema cult in eastern Brazil.

Cannabis has a long history of spiritual use, especially in India, where it has been used by wandering spiritual sadhus for centuries. ... Africa is the worlds second-largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. ... Psychedelic mushrooms are also known as magic mushrooms, shrooms, sacred mushrooms, and, more generally, hallucinogenic mushrooms. ... Latin America consists of the countries of South America and some of North America (including Central America and some the islands of the Caribbean) whose inhabitants mostly speak Romance languages, although Native American languages are also spoken. ... The Mexican state of Oaxaca (Pronounced wa-HA-ka) is in the south west of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. ... Binomial name Psilocybe mexicana Psilocybe mexicana is a psychedelic mushroom of the Agaricales family, having psilocybin and psilocin as main active compounds. ... Psilocybin (4-phosphoryloxy-N, N-dimethyltryptamine) is a psychedelic alkaloid of the tryptamine family. ... Psilocin is a mushroom alkaloid and derivative of the psychedelic hallucinogenic drug psilocybin. ... D-lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly called hits, tabs, acid, LSD, or LSD-25, is a powerful semisynthetic psychedelic drug. ... An alkaloid is a nitrogenous organic molecule that has a pharmacological effect on humans and other animals. ... Species About 50, including: Claviceps africanum Claviceps fusiformis Claviceps paspali Claviceps purpurea Ergot is the common name of a fungus in the genus Claviceps. ... Binomial name Amanita muscaria (Linnaeus) Hook. ... Soma (Sanskrit), or Haoma (Avestan) (from Proto-Indo-Iranian *Sauma) was a ritual drink of importance among the early Indo-Iranians, and the later Vedic and Iranian cultures. ... This article is about the Hindu religion; for other meanings of the word, see Hindu (disambiguation). ... See Soma (disambiguation) for other uses. ... Zoroastrianism was adapted from an earlier, polytheistic faith by Zarathushtra (Zoroaster) in Persia very roughly around 1000 BC (although, in the absence of written records, some scholars estimates are as late as 600 BC). ... Binomial name Lophophora williamsii (Lem. ... Mescaline or 3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine is a psychedelic hallucinogenic drug and entheogen of the phenethylamine family. ... Nahuatl is a native language of central Mexico. ... The widely used Quechua name ayahuasca has two highly interrelated yet distinct meanings and referents: 1) an Amazonian giant vine native to the rainforest, generally Banisteriopsis caapi, and, by extension, 2) pharmacologically complex infusions prepared from it for shamanic, folk-medicinal, and quasi-religious purposes. ... Binomial name Banisteriopsis caapi Banisteriopsis caapi, also known as Ayahuasca, Caapi or Yage, is a South American jungle vine of the family Malpighiaceae. ... Indole is an aromatic heterocyclic organic compound. ... Binomial name Piper methysticum G.Forst. ... Kava is an ancient crop of the western Pacific. ... World map showing Oceania (geographically) Oceania is a geographical (often geopolitical) region consisting of numerous countries and territories – mostly islands – in the Pacific Ocean. ... Polynesia is generally defined as the islands within the triangle Polynesia (from Greek: πολύς many, νῆσος island) is a large grouping of over 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. ... Binomial name Tabernanthe iboga (L.) Nutt. ... Binomial name Tabernanthe iboga (L.) Nutt. ... Bwiti is a religious initiation ceremony performed by the Mitsogo people of Gabon and the Fang people of Gabon and Cameroon. ... Binomial name Erythroxylum coca Lam. ... Species see text Datura is a genus of herb and shrub plants belonging to the Solanaceae. ... Binomial name Datura stramonium Datura stramonium is the name of a poisonous weed, sometimes used as a hallucinogen. ... Binomial name Mimosa hostilis Benth. ... Binomial name Mimosa hostilis Benth. ... Binomial name Salvia divinorum Salvia divinorum (also known as Diviners sage, María Pastora or simply Salvia) is a psychoactive plant, a member of the sage genus and the Lamiaceae (mint) family. ... Species see List of Salvia species Sage is a term used for plants of the genus Salvia of the mint family, Lamiaceae. ... Certain drugs can affect the subjective qualities of perception, thought or emotion, resulting in altered interpretations of sensory input, alternate states of consciousness, or hallucinations. ... Image:Wassonsalviaphoto1. ... The shaman is an intellectual and spiritual figure who is regarded as possessing power and influence on other peoples in the tribe and performs several functions, primarily that of a healer ( medicine man). The shaman provides medical care, and serves other community needs during crisis times, via supernatural means (means...

The effects of meditation

The large variety of meditation techniques shares the common goal of shifting attention away from habitual modes of thinking and perception, in order to permit experiencing in a different way. Many religious and spiritual traditions that employ meditation assert that the world most of us know is an illusion. This illusion is said to be created by our habitual mode of separating, classifying and labelling our perceptual experiences. Meditation is empirical in that it involves direct experience. Though it is also subjective in that the meditative state can be directly known only by the experiencer, and may be difficult or impossible to fully describe in words. // Overview In the late nineteenth century, Theosophists adopted meditation to refer to various spiritual practices drawn from Hinduism, Buddhism, and other Eastern religions. ... PSYCHOLOGY In psychology and the cognitive sciences, perception is the process of acquiring, interpreting, selecting, and organizing sensory information. ...

Concentrative meditation can induce an altered state of consciousness characterised by a loss of sensory awareness of extraneous stimuli, one-pointed attention to the meditation object to the exclusion of all other thoughts, and feelings of bliss. The phrase altered state of consciousness was coined in the 1970s and describes induced changes in ones mental state, almost always temporary. ... Senses are the physiological methods of perception. ... In biological psychology, awareness describes an animals perception and cognitive reaction to a condition or event. ... A stimulus is the following: In physiology, a stimulus (physiology) is something external that elicits or influences a physiological or psychological activity or response. ...


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  • Allport, G.W. & Ross, J.M., Personal Religious Orientation and Prejudice, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1967.
  • Allport, G. W., The individual and his religion, New York, Macmillan, 1950.
  • Batson, C.D., Schoenrade, P. & Ventis, L., Religion and the Individual, New York, Oxford University Press, 1993.
  • Erikson, E., Young man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History, New York, W. W. Norton, 1958.
  • Fowler, J. Stages of Faith, Harper and Row, San Francisco, 1971.
  • Francis, L.J. & Louden, S.H., The Francis-Louden Mystical Orientation Scale: A Study Among Male Anglican Priests, Research in the Scientific Study of Religion, 2000.
  • Freud, S., The future of an illusion, translated by W.D. Robson-Scott, New York, Liveright, 1928.
  • Freud, S., Totem and Taboo: Resemblances Between the Psychic Lives of Savages and Neurotics, New-york, Dodd, 1928.
  • Freud, S., Moses and Monotheism, London, The Hogarth Press and The Institute of Psychoanalysis, 1939.
  • Fromm, E., Psychoanalysis and Religion, New Haven, Yale University, 1950.
  • Genia, V., The Spiritual Experience Index: Revision and Reformulation, Review of Religious Research, 38, 344-361, 1997.
  • Glock, C.Y. & Stark, R., Religion and Society in Tension, Chicago, Rand McNally, 1965.
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  • Hill, P. C. & Hood, R., Measures of Religiosity, Birmingham, Alabama, Religious Education Press,1999.
  • Hill, P. C. & Pargament, K., Advances in the Conceptualisation and Measurement of Spirituality. American Psychologist, 58, p64-74, 2003.
  • Hood, R. W., The Construction and Preliminary Validation of a Measure of Reported Mystical Experience, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 1975.
  • James, W., The Varieties of Religious Experience, Cambridge, Ma., Harvard University, 1985.
  • Jung, C. G., Modern Man in Search of a Soul, New York, Harcourt Brace, 1933.
  • Jung, C. G., Psychology and Religion, Yale University Press, 1962.
  • Jung, C. G., Psychology and Religion, Yale Univ. Press, 1992.
  • Jung, C. G., Psychology and Western Religion, Princeton Univ. Press, 1984.
  • Hood, R. W., The Construction and Preliminary Validation of a Measure of Reported Mystical Experience, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 1975.
  • Leuba, J. H., The Psychology of Religious Mysticism, New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1925.
  • Leuba, J. H., The Psychological Origin and the Nature of Religion, Folcroft, Pa, Folcroft Library Editions, 1978.
  • Wulff, D. M., Psychology of Religion: Classic and Contemporary (2nd ed), New York, Wiley, 1997.

Further Reading

  • Fontana, D., Psychology, Religion and Spirituality, Oxford, Blackwell, 2003.
  • Levin, J., God, Faith and Health: Exploring the Spirituality-Health Connection, New York, Wiley, 2001.
  • Loewenthal, K. M., Psychology of Religion: A Short Introduction, Oxford, Oneworld, 2000.
  • Meissner, W., Psychoanalysis and Religious Experience, London and New Haven, Yale University Press, 1984.
  • Paloutzian, R., Invitation to the Psychology of Religion, 2nd Ed., New York, Allyn and Bacon, 1996.

See also

The phrase altered state of consciousness was coined in the 1970s and describes induced changes in ones mental state, almost always temporary. ... This article is about Neurotheology. ...




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