Natural Reflections: Human Cognition at the Nexus of Science and Religion

Barbara H. Smith
Yale University Press

In Natural Reflections: Human Cognition at the Nexus of Science and Religion, Barbara Herrnstein Smith provides a highly readable, extensively informed account of a set of contemporary intellectual projects involving the relations among science, religion and human cognition. These include studies by anthropologists and psychologists seeking to explain religion on the basis of cognitive science and evolutionary theory; writings by scholars of religion contesting the very possibility of such explanations; efforts by theologians to demonstrate the cognitive compatibility of natural science and traditional religious teachings; and works by scientists and philosophers drawing strong contrasts between religious belief and scientific knowledge on the basis of their alleged cognitive “naturalness” or “unnaturalness”. Rejecting dominant computational-modular models of mind in favor of accounts of cognitive processes as dynamic, interactive, and embodied, and viewing scientific and religious ideas from the perspective of a constructivist-pragmatist epistemology, Smith offers detailed descriptions and assessments of these mutually antagonistic--but also “naturally reflecting”—projects.

Barbara H. Smith