Transcendence is one of the fundamentals of philosophy and theology. For centuries its investigation as a non-material phenomenon was an exclusive subject of speculative and theoretical reflections. Today, such phenomena have become the subjects of scientific empirical research with results that challenge traditional understanding. Because of the fundamental role of transcendence in philosophy and theology, it is urgent to ask whether it too is affected by scientific investigation. A scientific discipline which is able to contribute to this question is the Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR) because it employs the concept of ‘supernatural’ which is very close to the concept of transcendence. CSR has produced considerable results which have a high potential to call into question traditional models of transcendence. And yet, it is rarely taken into account particularly by theology. There are only very few works which try to understand CSR’s impact, especially on classical theism. But they focus on CSR’s methodology and methodological transgressions and do not ask what impact CSR’s legitimate research may have on theological and philosophical topics. Although it is clear that scientific research cannot contribute to the question of the existence of a transcendent or divine reality, CSR’s models do have the potential to modify our understanding of the immanent side of transcendence: the prevalent human belief in transcendence (natural theology) and the importance of transcendence for being human. This project will be an essential contribution to connect science and the humanities. It employs an experimental and innovative approach: It does not reject CSR on the basis of its transgressions but aims to take seriously its legitimate results and to answer the resulting questions. It will consider the chances of CSR for an enhanced theological understanding. And it will connect CSR's challenges with traditional models in order to find new perspectives and answers.
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