Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

Counterintuition, existential anxiety, and religion as a by-product of the designing mind

Deborah Kelemen a1
a1 Department of Psychology, Boston University, Boston, MA 02131


In arguing for religion as a side effect of everyday cognition, Atran & Norenzayan (A&N) provide useful analyses of the strengths of the “naturalness-of-religion” position over others; however, experimental shortcomings limit the contributions of their empirical work. A relevant addendum involves considering research on children's orientation to teleological explanations of natural phenomena, which suggests that relatively rich cognitive proclivities might underlie religious thought.