A few years ago, out of the blue, a rabbi named Geoff Mitelman wrote me an email. He was starting a fellowship program in New York, and wanted to know whether I’d be interested in joining it. The fellowship, called “Sinai and Synapses,” was focused on religion and science and would bring scientists, scholars, and religious leaders together for lectures and conversations three times per year in midtown Manhattan. Travel and hotel would be covered in full! I said yes…. Read more

Scientist Dominic Johnson thinks belief in supernatural punishment drove the evolution of cooperation. A new paper and simulation tested this hypothesis. Read more

Why be patriotic, since countries are often unfair, unjust, and warlike? Because humans need groups to live & good groups take commitment, work, and belief. Read more

Maybe you’ve heard of the “marshmallow experiment” for testing people’s self-control. In this classic psychology study, scientists offered young children a choice: either eat a single marshmallow immediately, or wait for a few minutes and get to eat two. Findings have shown a remarkable correlation between children’s ability to delay gratification and a plethora of positive outcomes later in life, from higher SAT scores to better physical health. But where does self-control come from in the first place? A new… Read more

Why do people believe in God or gods? One philosopher argues that religious beliefs are actually more like play or metaphor than literal claims. Read more

The culture of science breaks ties with the past, while religion cherishes them. So for those who need a coherent meaning in life, science can be rough. Read more

A new study finds that the reason why Slovakians are religious, but their close neighbors the Czechs aren’t, is because of culture – not cognitive biases. Read more

In New Zealand, strongly religious people have less prejudice for Muslims and immigrants. But nightly news-watchers feel more prejudice and less warmth. Read more

If you ever want to get seriously frustrated, I suggest getting advanced graduate training in religious studies. Why’s it frustrating? Because everyone thinks they understand religion already. Seriously, biologists don’t sit down next to strangers on airplanes, let slip that they’re biologists, and then find themselves subjected to a 10-minute lecture on their seat mate’s poorly informed ideas about cellular signaling pathways. But the equivalent happens to people who study religion all the time. You say, “Oh, I study ritual… Read more

This was supposed to be an era of globalism and tolerance. But if we want the global community to seem real, we have to use ritual and myth to make it real. Read more

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