An historian’s call to understand and engage creationists

We can no longer pretend that the disagreement about the origin of species is only a scientific debate, because to creationists it is much, much more. For those of us who think that evolution is currently the best explanation of the origin of species, understanding and engaging with the moral and religious aspects of the creationist worldview is paramount. Read more

Sinai and Synapses: A video about studying religion

Together with my friend and colleague Tim Maness, I made a couple of videos last week on the relationship between science and religion. They went up yesterday at Sinai and Synapses as part of its “More Light, Less Heat” initiative, and again today at the Huffington Post. Read more

The Nye-Ham debates, or why fundamentalism exists

The people who think the world was created in six days six thousand years ago are Just. Plain. Wrong. By hinging their sense of meaning in life to this ludicrous cosmogonical error, creationists are doing more and deeper damage to the life of the spirit in this age than any Richard Dawkins or Daniel Dennett could ever do for them. Read more

Holden Caulfield and the Super Bowl

Is the Super Bowl stupid? Sure. But let’s stop the Holden Caulfield Syndrome of mocking it to show we’re superior. Because athletics is ritual and subjunctive play, and all rituals – all social conventions – are are objectively arbitrary and irrational. Like life, sports are a consensual brotherhood of the absurd. Read more

Spirit possession: everyone’s doing it

Anti-religion writers and cognitive scientists of religion alike tend to consider religion as if it were mostly sets abstract, linguistically representable propositions, like “God exists” or “Jesus saves.” But spirit possession shows us that if we really want to tackle the question of what religion is and why we humans have it, we have to look squarely at practices that don’t fit into our own, Western cultural schemas. Read more

My employer: The Institute for the Bio-Cultural Study of Religion

The Institute for the Bio-Cultural Study of Religion, also known as IBCSR, is an independent research institution. IBCSR researchers make use of a staggering variety of different research tools and methods, drawn from a number of fields, to study religion from biological, cultural, and evolutionary perspectives. Read more

Does atheism arise from wealth?

is atheism a luxury of the wealthy? Yes. But this isn’t simply because the wealthy don’t need the comforts of a posited afterlife. It’s also because materially comfortable people have more energy to expend on negotiating their social worlds. Read more

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

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