Theological Correctness: Cognitive Constraint and the Study of Religion

In: Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
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  • 1 1Calvin College


In both natural and religious thinking, people have ntultiple versions of the same concepts that may be contradictory. In the domain of religious concepts, these ntultiple levels of representation in single individuals may be termed "Theological Correctness." Versions of religioiis concepts range front fairly simple or concrete to very complex and abstract. Selection of the, concept to be used in any given context is largely dependent on the cognitive processing demands of the task. In tasks in which there is great derrtand to draw quick and rich inferences, a basic concept comprised largely of intuitive knowledge, is used. In tasks in which there is less demand, as when one is slowly and carefully riflecting on one's knowledge, more complicated, intuition violating theoretical concepts may be drawn upon. In the domain of religious concepts these concepts closely match traditional theology and so may be termed theological concepts. Implications for data gathering and theorizing in the study of religion are discussed. Finally, these observations suggest the. importance of insights from cognitive sciertce, for the study of religion.

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