Sacred Technologies: the Evolution of Religious Cognitive Niche
Most cognitive studies of religion adopt a modular theory of cognition. The 'space'that is studied is often the 'space between the ears'. Culture and religion are viewed as by-products of more entrenched features of our brains. Although this 'Standard Model' explains many intuitive expressions of religious belief, it has trouble explaining (a) the variability of religious systems crossculturally (b) the uses of material culture (i.e. symbolic structures etc) in transmitting religious concepts. The following thesis presents a 'wideware mind' hypothesis for religious cognition. I urge that while our internal cognitive architecture is causally relevant to religious cognition, the material artefacts of culture must be viewed as cognitive properties in their own right. Hence any causal account of religious cognition must acknowledge the external features of minds and how our neurological resources interact with the artefacts of our world.