David Kling | February 25, 2019

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Jonathan Edwards, Petitionary Prayer, and the Cognitive Science of Religion

Studies in cognitive science indicate that religion involves a dual-processing or two-system model of reasoning that moves from basic beliefs in God or spirits to a more particularized or theological elaboration of those basic beliefs. The transition from natural religion to theology can lead to a tension, if not a contradiction in thinking. Religious concepts involving relfective thought often have intuitive violations that are difficult to maintain consistently. An examination of the sermons and writings of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) on petitionary prayer uncovers this difficulty, both among his Northampton parishioners and Edwards himself.

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