Cognitive Foundations of Religion: Relevant Publications


McCauley, R. N.  (2011).  Why Religion Is Natural and Science Is Not.  New York:  Oxford University Press.  (i-xv, 326 pages plus index)

Whitehouse, H. and McCauley, R. N. (eds.). (2005). Mind and Religion: Psychological and Cognitive Foundations of Religiosity. Walnut Creek, California: AltaMira Press. “Introduction,” pp. 6-30.

McCauley, R. N. and Lawson, E. T. (2002). Bringing Ritual to Mind: Psychological Foundations of Cultural Forms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lawson, E. T. and McCauley, R. N. (1990). Rethinking Religion: Connecting Cognition and Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

(2006). chapter 1: “Interpretation and Explanation: Problems and Promise in the Study of Religion” reprinted in Religion and Cognition: A Reader, J. Slone (ed.). London: Equinox, pp. 12-35.


McCauley, R. N., and Whitehouse, H. (eds.) (2005). The Psychological and Cognitive Foundations of Religiosity; special issue of Journal of Cognition and Culture 5, 1-142.


McCauley, R. N. (2015). “La Cognición Natural, La Ciencia Profesional y La Religión Popular” E. Otero (trans.). Mesa Redonda 8, 22-46.
Spanish translation of McCauley, R. N. (forthcoming). “Maturationally Natural Cognition Impedes Professional Science and Facilitates Popular Religion,” Religion and Science as Forms of Life: Anthropological Insights into Reason and Unreason. C. Salazar and J. Bestard (eds.). Oxford: Berghahn Books, pp. 25-48.

McCauley, R. N. (2014). “Putting Religious Ritual in Its Place: On Some Ways in Which Humans’ Cognitive Predilections Influence the Locations and Shapes of Religious Rituals,” Archaeology and Ritual Spaces, Locating the Sacred: Theoretical Approaches to the Emplacement of Religion. C. Moser and C. Weiss (eds.). Providence, Rhode Island: Joukowsky Institute Publications, pp. 143-163.

McCauley, R. N. (2013). “Explanatory Pluralism and the Cognitive Science of Religion: Or Why Scholars in Religious Studies Should Stop Worrying about Reductionism,Mental Culture: Classical Social Theory and the Cognitive Science of Religion. D. Xygalatas and W. W. McCorkle, Jr. (eds.). London: Acumen.

McCauley, R. N. (2013). “Why Science Is Exceptional and Religion Is Not: A Response to Commentators on Why Religion Is Natural and Science Is Not,” Religion, Brain & Behavior 3 (2), 165-182.

McCauley, R. N. (2012). “The Importance of Being ‘Ernest’,” Integrating the Sciences and Humanities: Interdisciplinary Approaches. E. Slingerland and M. Collard (eds.). New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 266-281.

McCauley, R. N. (2012). “Natural Religion, Unnatural Science,” New Scientist (March 17, 2012) 213, 44-46.

McCauley, R. N. (2012). “Why Might Our Minds Be Better Suited to Religion Than to Science?” Science + Religion Today.

McCauley, R. N. (2010). “How Science and Religion Are More Like Theology and Commonsense Explanations Than They Are Like Each Other: A Cognitive Account,” Chasing Down Religion: In the Sights of History and Cognitive Science. P. Pachis and D. Wiebe (eds.). Thessaloniki: Barbounakis Publications, pp. 242-265.

McCauley, R. N. and Cohen, E. (2010). “Cognitive Science and the Naturalness of Religion,” Philosophy Compass 4, 1-14.

McCauley, R. N. and Lawson, E. T. (2007). “Cognition, Religious Ritual, and Archaeology,” The Archaeology of Ritual. E. Kyriakidis (ed.). Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Publications, pp. 209-254.

McCauley, R. N. (2006). “How Far Will an Account of Ritualized Behavior Go in Explaining Cultural Rituals?” Behavioural and Brain Sciences 29, 623-624.

McCauley, R. N. and Whitehouse, H. (2005). “New Frontiers in the Cognitive Science of Religion,” Journal of Cognition and Culture 5, 1-13.

McCauley, R. N. (2004). “Philosophical Naturalism and the Cognitive Approach to Ritual,” Thinking through Ritual. K. Schilbrack (ed.). London: Routledge, pp. 148-171.

McCauley, R. N. (2003). “Is Religion a Rube Goldberg Device? Or Oh, What a Difference a Theory Makes!” Religion as a Human Capacity: A Festschrift in Honor of E. Thomas Lawson. B. Wilson and T. Light (eds.) Leiden: Brill, pp. 45-64.

Lawson, E. T. and McCauley, R. N.  (2002).  “The Cognitive Representation of Religious Ritual Form:  A Theory of Participants’ Competence with their Religious Ritual Systems,”  Current Approaches to the Cognitive Study of Religion.  I. Pyysiainen and V. Anttonen (eds).  London:  Continuum, pp. 153-176.

McCauley, R. N.  (2002).  “Theoretical Arguments are not Icons,” Ritual Studies 16, 23-29.

McCauley, R. N.  (2001).  “Ritual, Memory, and Emotion:  Comparing Two Cognitive Hypotheses,” Religion in Mind:  Cognitive Perspectives on Religious Experience.  J. Andresen (ed.).  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, pp. 115-140.

McCauley, R. N.  (2000).  “Overcoming Barriers to a Cognitive Psychology of Religion,” Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 12, pp. 141-161.  (special issue) Perspectives on Method and Theory in the Study of Religion.  A. Geertz and R. McCutcheon (eds.).  The Hague:  Brill.

McCauley, R. N.  (2000).  “The Naturalness of Religion and the Unnaturalness of Science,”  Explanation and Cognition.  F. Keil and R. Wilson (eds.).  Cambridge: MIT Press, pp. 61-85.

McCauley, R. N.  (1999).  “Bringing Ritual to Mind,” Ecological Approaches to Cognition:  Essays in Honor of Ulric Neisser.  E. Winograd, R. Fivush, and W. Hirst (eds.).  Hillsdale, New Jersey:  Erlbaum, pp. 285-312.

McCauley, R. N.  (1999).  “The Cognitive Foundations of Religion and Science,” Religion im Wandel der Kosmologien.  D. Zeller (ed.).  Berlin:  P. Lang, pp. 55-67.

McCauley, R. N.  and Lawson, E. T.  (1998).  “Interactionism and the Non-Obviousness of Scientific Theories,” Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 10, 61-77.

McCauley, R. N. and Lawson, E. T.  (1996).  “Who Owns ‘Culture’?” Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 8, 171-190.

Lawson, E. T. and McCauley, R. N.  (1993).  “Crisis of Conscience, Riddle of Identity:  Making Space for a Cognitive Approach to Religious Phenomena,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 61, 201-223.

McCauley, R. N. and Lawson, E. T.  (1993).  “Connecting the Cognitive and the Cultural:  Artificial Minds as Methodological Devices in the Study of the Sociocultural,” Minds: Natural and Artificial.  R. Burton (ed.).  Albany:  State University of New York Press, pp. 121-145.

McCauley, R. N. and Lawson, E. T. (1984). “Functionalism Reconsidered,” History of Religions 23, 372-381.