Farewell to Ian Barbour

Ian Barbour, the physicist and religious studies scholar who passed away at the end of 2013, showed that we don’t have to be tribal in the way we choose what to believe. Read more

Is religion anthropomorphism?

Anthropologist Stewart Guthrie argues that religion arises from humans’ inborn tendency to anthropomorphize the world around us. What does this mean for how we relate to religious claims? Read more

Inclusive fitness, models, and religious evolution

New research in evolutionary theory sheds light on a long-simmering debate in the scientific study of religion. Read more

Religion, imagination, and secret worlds

Why do religions seem to create such strong communities? Partly, it’s because they help people to share secret, imaginative worlds with one another – just like children playing. Does this mean religions are infantile? Hardly – this sort of imaginative play is almost the only thing that CAN make relationships happen. Read more

We are all teachers. Or at least we should be.

Internet comments and opinion pieces show that we’re all pretty impatient with those who disagree with us. But if we as a culture are going to begin to solve our problems, rather than merely sit around feeling superior to those who are trying to solve them badly, we are going to have to forget about just respecting one another. Instead, we are going to have to become teachers. Read more

Religion makes you prejudiced. God doesn’t.

Some kinds of religious priming makes people more prejudiced against minorities. Others seem to make people LESS prejudiced. What gives? New research from the University of Illinois suggests that the difference might be between God and religion. Read more

What’s the Point of the Humanities? A Response to Pinker and Wieseltier

Science is sexy, confident, and universally adored—the star quarterback of our intellectual culture. But the glamour of science is largely due to the technological power it produces, and power is not an intrinsic good—it is only good when it is tempered by wisdom and wielded to achieve noble ends. This is why we should value the humanities. Read more

Russell Brand is wrong about Western religions

What Brand forgets – or, more likely, has never learned, because no one teaches this stuff in school – is that tradition, religion, and culture are humanity’s most basic biological and cultural tools for achieving balanced relationships between and within societies. As linguistic and cultural animals, we require conventions, continuity, and tradition in order not only to make sense of the world, but to to fine-tune all aspects of our relationship to it. Read more

Trust issues? The answer might be rhythm

Why do religions have rituals like bowing or praying in time with a group? Recent research from New Zealand shows that moving or chanting in sync helps people act more generously – especially if they’ve worked hard to stay in time with each other. Read more

A friendly reminder: Science isn’t reality. Reality is reality.

The complementary opposite of science isn’t religion, but embodiment. Despite their incredible effectiveness, scientific models and ideas are not reality. Only reality is reality. So stop trying to capture the entire world with theories, and get in your body instead. Read more