Tag Archives: cognitive science of religion

Ann Taves joins us to discuss her work arguing that we should study religions under the broader rubric of “worldviews” and “ways of life”. This ambitious interdisciplinary project aims to place a micro-level analysis of individual worldviews into a broader evolutionary perspective. Through case-studies (including ‘secular’ worldviews like Alcoholics Anonymous alongside more traditional ‘religions’), she explains how worldviews form in response to existential ‘Big Questions’ – here understood as core biological needs and goals, rather than theological or moral concerns – and are enacted in Ways of Life, individually or collectively.

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In this podcast Professor Joe Bulbulia of Auckland University speaks to Thomas White about situating the study of religion within a broader concept of ‘justice’. Bulbulia calls ‘religion and spirituality those features of nature [in the biocultural sense of the word] that combine to cultivate a sense of justice in people’.

Bulbulia argues that common across human societies are conceptions of obligation and responsibility: what is owed to others, and what is owed back in return. These sensibilities locate within a complex combination of institutions, traditions, texts, stories, habits, rituals, rules of etiquette, laws and conventions, abstract ideals, and beliefs in God(s) – though this list is not exhaustive!

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A response to “Autism, Religion, and Imagination with Ingela Visuri”
by Hans van Egyhen

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spectrum represent a unique population of study in the cognitive and psychological sciences of religion. Because religious cognition stems from normal social-cognitive capacities, which are altered for individuals on the spectrum, researchers also expect variation in how they think about supernatural agents. In this interview, Ingela Visuri discusses her ongoing research at the nexus between autism and religion.

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A conference report by Hans Van Eyghen

Visiting your Alma Mater is always accompanied by mixed emotions. On the one hand you see familiar things you missed but on the other hand you’re confronted with downsides you hoped were a thing of the past. My visit to the KULeuven

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A Response to Wesley J. Wildman on “Modelling Religion and the Integration of the Sciences and the Humanities in the Bio-cultural Study of Religion”
By Leonardo Ambasciano

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Following his Albert Moore Memorial Lecture at Otago University, celebrating 50 years of Religious Studies at Otago, Professor Wesley Wildman talks to Thomas White regarding the integration of the sciences and the humanities in his bio-cultural approach to the study of religion.

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Claiming that social deficit increases religious belief is also hard without presupposing that some belief was already there. Compensating lack of social interactions by interacting with an invisible, divine, being is easier if the individual already has some prior belief. Without it, jumping to beliefs in invisible beings seems a long jump. Misattributing agency also comes a lot easier if the individual already has some idea about the agent to whom actions can be attributed.

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Psychologist Dr. Jonathan Jong draws on experimental research utilizing terror management theory to discuss the role of religious and other worldviews in assuaging the fear of the inevitable—DEATH.

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It is my belief that the failure of CSR to adequately address its inherently interdisciplinary nature has been a detriment to the field and that by addressing these issues it will help the field to grow as well as to help non-CSR specialists understand more of the subtlety of this scientific approach to our subject.

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Recorded at the 2015 North American Association for the Study of Religion (NAASR) conference, Robert McCauley discusses methodological and theoretical issues within the cognitive sciences of religion. “Science surprises us!” – McCauley

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This past January, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology had its biggest turn out to date for its 17th Annual Convention in San Diego, California. Despite religion, as a broad category of research, all to often being missing in action in the psychological sciences, researchers embracing the study of religion were hard to miss throughout SPSP 2016. Conference report for The Religious Studies Project by Adam Baimel, University of British Columbia.

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If neither of these concepts, physical or mental continuity between reincarnations, are theologically incorrect, it’s hard to make the case that they are borne out of some more fundamental agent-recognition cognitive structures.

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White’s research, in conjunction with my own and others’, calls into question a theoretical assumption held by many CSR scholars that the body plays a negligible role in beliefs about supernatural agents.

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Significantly more people are willing to entertain the plausibility of reincarnation than are likely to wholeheartedly adopt reincarnation into their existing belief structure.

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