The Wave of the Future: Experimental Religious Studies

Ted Slingerland’s work at UBC-Vancouver shows that the scientific study of religion has undergone a quantum leap in maturation. We can now learn from Mother Nature which of our ideas are good, which are okay but need work, and which are simply better put out with next week’s garbage pickup. Read more

Is religion good or bad for the world?

Across studies, there’s a regular but modest positive correlation between religiosity and prosocial behavior, and a negative correlation between religion and antisocial behaviors. But these effects are weak. What does this mean for religion’s place in the world? Read more

How do we make meaning of evolution? By admitting its uncomfortable truths.

the most vital trait of evolution is also its most difficult: there’s no purpose in it, no trajectory whatsoever. In evolution, things survive because they are not killed, not because they’re more noble or closer to God’s vision for how the world should be. Read more

Theories of religion: The early years

This week we’re looking at three early anthropologists who believed that cultures evolve from “primitive” to “civilized” stages, and that religion is a characteristic of the earlier stages. Excelsior! Read more

Why do religions tell impossible tales? A testable hypothesis

Impossible imagery in religious narratives and folktales might, in part, serve as a solution to a uniquely human problem: believing too sincerely in the cause-and-effect stories we tell ourselves, such that we become stuck in self-fulfilling rumination. Read more

Awesome theories of religion, Part 2

This week, I’m focusing on four thinkers who have advanced our understanding of how ritual and beliefs intertwine, and how religion both creates and destroys metaphorical boundaries or “walls” in human societies. Read more

4 neat theories of religion

Here’s Part 1 of a list of very smart and interesting people with profound theories about religion. The point is to spread some actual knowledge and ideas about religion, as opposed to trendy nonsense from people who couldn’t tell religion from Ramen noodles. Read more

Religion influences ethics more in low-religiosity countries

Two researchers argue that religious believers are more likely to internalize their faiths’ values in countries where being religious is their own, free choice. Read more

What happens when inequality grows? Ecstatic religion flowers.

Ecstatic, music-driven religions and spirit possession movements are often found in rigidly hierarchical cultures, where many people are stuck permanently in the lower ranks of society – cultures such as the one the United States is becoming Read more

Internet comments: the poisoned well

Highly negative comments inspire readers to react in polarized ways to news articles, forcing splits along partisan lines. This means the actual issues get lost in the fray. Read more

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