The Paradox of the Idea of Intuitive Theism and the Fact of Numerous Atheists; A Research in the Cognitive Sciences of Religion

Document Type : Original Research


1 Assistant Professor at University of Religions and Denominations, Qom, Iran .

2 Ph. D. Candidate at University of Tehran, College of Farabi, Qom, Iran.


In the cognitive science of religion, some, after conducting or examining experiments, believe that all human beings are "intuitive theists" or "Born Believers" and believe in "natural Religion." According to these thinkers, our three basic cognitive mechanisms, i.e. Theory of Mind (TOM), Hyperactive Agency Detection Device (HADD), and Teleological Bias (TB), have been emerged and sustained as a result of evolution. Therefore, the cognitive structure of all of us human beings at birth is such that it provides the basis for religiosity. One of the challenges to this theory at first glance is that if theism is intuitive, then why do so many people believe in atheism? In this paper, we intend to explain the theory of intuitive theism in the cognitive sciences of religion and then defend it against the many forms of atheism. We answer that there are many types of atheism: "cognitive atheism," "motivational atheism," "cultural atheism," and "analytical atheism."  Theism and atheism can coincide in all these categories except the first. In other words, with this analysis of the cognitive sciences of religion, the same large number of atheists can be considered intuitive theists, even if they do not pay attention or accept. Thus, despite the increasing number of atheists, intuitive theism as a theory in the cognitive sciences of religion can still be defended.


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