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Intuitions and Arguments: Cognitive Foundations of Argumentation in Natural Theology

Helen De Cruz, Johan De Smedt

Abstract

This paper examines the cognitive foundations of natural theology: the intuitions that provide the raw materials for religious arguments, and the social context in which they are defended or challenged. We show that the premises on which natural theological arguments are based rely on intuitions that emerge early in development, and that underlie our expectations for everyday situations, e.g., about how causation works, or how design is recognized. In spite of the universality of these intuitions, the cogency of natural theological arguments remains a matter of continued debate. To understand why they are controversial, we draw on social theories of reasoning and argumentation.

Keywords

Cognitive Science of Religion, Natural Theology, Intuitions, Theological Arguments

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