I argue that the cognitive science of religion shows us that belief in mind-body dualistic life after death is at least prima facie justified because, roughly speaking, such belief is based on a seeming and any belief so based is prima facie justified.
Belief forms a spectrum. At one end, there are purely intuitive beliefs, and, at the other end, purely reflective beliefs. And, for the most part, intuitive belief determines reflective belief. Every intuitive belief is natural in some way or other. A capacity is natural if its exercise is easy, automatic, and fluent. Among natural capacities, we typically develop some as we mature without any special training or tools (e.g. speaking a native language), whereas others require practice and special cultural conditions to become natural (e.g. reading a native language). Any intuitive belief is maturationally natural if one forms such a belief by the exercise of a maturationally natural mental capacity. Evidence that an intuitive belief is developmentally early is evidence that the belief is maturationally natural.
According to many theorists (e.g. Justin Barrett, Jesse Bering, and Paul Bloom), belief in dualistic life after death is maturationally natural for most. I present an outline of ways our mental tools (e.g. Organism-Describer and Theory-of-Mind) encourage such belief. For example, we think of people as organisms and mental-agents. When someone dies, the Organism-Describer says she is biologically dead, but Theory-of-Mind continues to predict her mental states. We are, after all, accustomed to reason about people who are absent. So, we assume mental life continues after biological death.
Justification is epistemic responsibility: a subject S’s belief that P is justified just if S is epistemically permitted to believe that P. Maturationally natural belief enjoys automatic justification because such belief is directly and indirectly involuntary. Any reflective belief that is based on maturationally natural belief enjoys prima facie justification.
Phenomenal Conservatism says: (PC) If it seems to S that P and if S believes that P on its basis, then S’s belief is prima facie justified.
I argue for a closely related principle, which I call Natural Dogmatism: (ND) If S has a (maturationally) natural belief that P and if S reflectively believes that P on its basis, then S’s reflective belief that P is prima facie justified.
Maturationally natural belief in dualistic life after death is automatically justified. So, given (ND), any reflective belief that is based on such maturationally natural belief is prima facie justified.