Cosmic tribalism, Internet ego, and the future of humanity

Here’s one thing you can do to stop ecological catastrophe: stop turning your ideological opponents into mortal enemies. Every time you make a sweeping generalization about conservatives or religious believers in a blog comment, you’re making the Koch brothers very, very happy. Read more

How religion will save the world

Cultures that hold nothing to be sacred, like our global marketplace, have little chance of surviving in the long term. But cultures that hold some things to be sacred and inviolable have a shot at preserving their ecologies for the future, because for them not everything is for sale. Read more

Awe increases religious belief

Two researchers from California have found that awe-inspiring images make people believe more in God. But there’s more – awe also makes people more likely to falsely perceive human agents, and increases intolerance for uncertainty. What does this mean for religious belief? Read more

Where religion pervades, prejudice reigns

A team of researchers has found that cultures with high levels of everyday religiosity are more violent and prejudiced against outgroups. Read more

Don’t understand religion? Experiment with it.

As William James reminded his readers a century ago, our internal mental states and attitudes don’t arise independently of our actions. If you want to make peace with the oddity of other people’s religious worlds, start by stepping, even ever so lightly, into those worlds – and the concrete actions that make them possible. Read more

Is science more “unnatural” than religion?

Is religion more “natural” than science? Cognitive scientist Robert McCauley says yes, because religion depends on our brains’ basic default intuitions. Science, meanwhile, requires us to challenge our cognitive defaults. But are things really this clear-cut? Read more

Big changes are coming to politics in America. Here’s why

Libertarians and social conservatives are headed for divorce. So are liberal Democrats and working-class minorities. The reason why? Simple: religion and tradition versus individualism. Burke versus Locke. And communitarianism versus radical personal autonomy. Read more

Being powerful makes you think analytically

There’s a causal relationship between social pecking order position and analytical cognition – so it’s worth thinking about how this potentially thorny relationship plays into real-world debates about scientific issues. For an analytical enterprise like science to make personal contact with everyday human people, we’d do well to remember that displays of social power can be alienating. Read more

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

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