Science On Religion presents news and views relating to the scientific study of religion. We’re excited about new insight into religion, spirituality, and the endless forms of the human quest for meaning, and we think the sciences have many valuable insights to offer. We don’t speak for any particular religious viewpoint, and we don’t advocate for or against any theology or belief system.
Science On Religion takes religion seriously. We have no interest in trying to “explain away” God or spirituality. And we are not interested in pretending that religion is all peace and joy and light. In the very best spirit of science, we’re after the facts – about ritual, spirituality and health, human evolution, and any other subject that bears on the complex and fascinating topic of human religiousness. We’re interested in facts because, when it comes right down to it, we trust them.
In a sense, this blog is both an expression of faith in the value of science, and a show of confidence in the value of rigorous inquiry into spiritual and religious matters. Through our content, we’re making an important point: done critically and well, the study of religiousness through the lens of the social and biological sciences doesn’t need to lead to a decay or snuffing out of our collective spiritual life, however that is understood. In fact, by giving us more insight into what makes us human, it can only make that life more vibrant.
This blog includes two kinds of posts. The first is descriptions of scientific research studies along with explanations of their significance for making sense of everyday spirituality and religiosity. The second is opinion pieces about research trends, current controversies, and science-religion interactions. We invite you to weigh in with your own ideas in response to the news items and the opinion pieces. Welcome to Science on Religion!
For further insights into the scientific and cultural study of religion, check out our companion site, ScienceOnReligion.org.
Wesley J. Wildman is Professor of Philosophy, Theology, and Ethics at Boston University, and Convener of the Graduate School’s doctoral program in Religion and Science. His research and publications pursue a multidisciplinary, comparative approach to important topics within religious and theological studies, and has lectured on these themes in many parts of the world. His programmatic statement of the theory of rationality underlying this type of integrative intellectual work is Religious Philosophy as Multidisciplinary Comparative Inquiry: Envisioning a Future for the Philosophy of Religion (State University of New York Press, 2010). Science and Religious Anthropology (Ashgate, 2009) presents his religious naturalist view of the human condition, and the companion volume Science and Ultimate Reality (Ashgate, forthcoming) articulates his account of religious naturalism in relation to competing views of ultimate reality. Religious and Spiritual Experiences (Cambridge University Press, 2011) presents a spiritually evocative naturalist interpretation of religious experience. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the International Society for Science and Religion. He is a founder of the Institute for the Biocultural Study of Religion, a research institute devoted to the scientific study of religion, and founding co-editor of the institute’s Taylor & Francis journal Religion, Brain & Behavior.
Connor Wood is a Ph.D. student at Boston University in religion and science. His research interests include religion and health, evolutionary science, public theology, and comparative religious inquiry. He has lectured and presented on Korean shamanism, the history of physiology, vitalism, and spirituality and health at Boston University, Tufts University, and for the American Academy of Religion. He uses the term “physiology of religion” to describe his emerging specialization. He hopes to use his training to communicate between the academy and the public, and ultimately to help build a new culture of rigorous, intellectually responsible, and culturally sophisticated engagement with spiritual matters.
Nicholas C. DiDonato is a Ph.D. student in religion and science, a Lindamood Fellow, and researcher under Wesley Wildman at Boston University. His research interests focus on forging a workable public theology for a scientific age. Nicholas holds an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary.
Derek Michaud is a Ph.D. candidate in the Division of Religious and Theological Studies at Boston University. His dissertation research revolves around the intersection of early modern science, philosophy, and theology in the 17th century Cambridge Platonist John Smith’s doctrine of the spiritual senses. He was a contributing editor for ScienceOnReligion.org. More information about Derek is available here.
Joel Daniels is an Episcopal priest at Saint Thomas Church in New York City and a PhD. student in Science and Religion at Boston University. A Lindamood Fellow with the Institute for the Biocultural Study of Religion, Joel edits the month IBCSR Research Review, an annotated report on new research in science and religion. Joel’s major academic interests are theological anthropology and the writings of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. You can learn more about Joel here.
Jonathan Morgan is a master’s student studying psychology and theology at Boston University’s School of Theology. He is particularly interested in understanding spirituality and its relationship to mental health. He hopes ultimately to work towards a career in counseling psychology. Read more of Jonathan’s writing here.
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