Scholars have trumpeted God’s demise based on the cognitive science of religion. Popular books, from Bering's _Belief Instinct_ to Shermer's _Believing Brain_, proclaim that religion is an illusion. While cognitive science has shown that the human mind/brain is susceptible to god-beliefs, has it, thereby, shown that God is a phantom in our brain and that religious belief is irrational?
Unbelief has received little attention, perhaps because most scholars who work on these topics are unbelievers. Such scholars have sought to explain how otherwise rational people could hold (obviously) false (and harmful) religious beliefs. Unlike religious belief, their unbelief, so their narrative goes, is the product of rational reflection—the triumph of reason over superstition. While they have sought the psychic impulses to religious belief, atheism has gotten a free pass.
Recent studies have shown unbelief to be both correlated with and even mediated by a cognitive malfunction: autism spectrum disorder. If CSR has shown religious belief to be both natural and normal, is unbelief thereby unnatural; are unbelievers abnormal (and irrational)?
There is not a popular monograph on the brain and religious belief and unbelief written by a philosopher. I propose to write a compelling and accessible popular book-length monograph that addresses philosophically the symmetries and asymmetries between the psychology of belief and unbelief. Insights gained from the psychology of atheism will prove that CSR cannot show religion to be an illusion and religious believers to be irrational.
This would involve a careful assessment of the relevant studies, one that clarifies such concepts as "studies show," "normal," and "rational." I will argue that CSR cannot address questions of the rationality or irrationality of either the believer or the unbeliever or the belief or unbelief.
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