An Argument Based on the “Inference to the Best Explanation” Procedure in Favor of the Belief in the Existence of Life After Death Based on the Analysis of the Theory of Mind (TOM) in the Cognitive Sciences of Religion

Document Type : Research Paper


Assistant Professor of the Philosophy of Religion, University of Religions and Denominations, Qom, Iran


This article set out to answer the question that how people’s belief in the life after death can be explained based on cognitive sciences and if such an explanation is in favor of the religious belief in the life after death or not. The “dead mouse experiment” and the “hero Richard experiment” are among the most important experiments recorded to confirm human belief in the duality of mind and body and the survival of the mind after the death of the body. The “theory of mind” is a theory that was proposed in the general cognitive sciences to explain some types of human learning and cognition. This theory came to be used by later cognitive scientists to explain the widespread belief of the humans in the duality of mind and body and the life after death. In this article, I have extracted and classified the pillars that form the theory of mind to explain the belief in the afterlife, including offline theory of mind, the need to the deads’ monitoring and judgment, limitations in simulating death, and physical perception and, consequently, the spatial understanding of death and life after death. The other theories of the cognitive science of religion that compete with the theory of mind are also mentioned in my article, such as cultural theory, essentialism theory, terror management theory, and the combined theory. Finally, based on these achievements of the cognitive sciences of religion in explaining the religious belief in the life after death, I present an argument using inference to the best explanation method or argument by comparative confirmation method, which shows that the possibility of an individual with a naturalist worldview to believe in the life after death is much lower than the possibility of an individual with a super-naturalist worldview to believe in it.


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