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

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The contemporary field of cognitive science proposes that religion (1) is a natural evolutionary development and (2) involves a two-system model of reasoning that, in a Christian context, moves from basic beliefs in God to a theological elaboration of those beliefs. The transition from natural religion to theology can lead to tensions, if not contradictions in thinking. An examination of the writings of Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) on petitionary prayer uncovers this difficulty, both among his Northampton parishioners and Edwards himself. Pastors and theologians would do well to appreciate the implications of cognitive science in consideration of their own formulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTheology and Science
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019


  • Calvinism
  • cognitive science of religion
  • God
  • grace
  • Jonathan Edwards
  • Prayer
  • providence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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