Religion as an Evolutionary Organism

In this interview, David Sloan Wilson gives an overview of his research studying religious groups as adaptive units, specifically discussing his work directing the Binghamton Religion and Spirituality Project. He introduces the field of evolutionary religious studies, explaining that ‘all aspects of humanity can be understood, in some sense, as a product of evolution’.

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  • Keeping the Bar Steady: The Complexities of Interdisciplinary Approaches to Religion

    While evolution does provide a biologically rooted framework that affords cognitive psychologists the theoretical rationale for extrapolating that all cultures utilize the same mental facilities (albeit quite differently depending on their environment), in order to explain religion in all its variants both past and present, cognitive psychology is both necessary and sufficient.

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    Posted in Features by Justin Lane

    Psychology of Religion at Its Best…and Less Best

    In this hard-hitting report, Alex Uzdavines reflects on the highs and lows of his recent experience at the American Psychological Association Division 36 Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality 2015 Mid-Year Conference hosted by Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah, United States on March 20th and 21st 2015.

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    Posted in Features by Alex Uzdavines

    “The Last Word…?” A Response to Bruce Lincoln’s interview on “The Critical Study of Religion”

    Can one really engage in a “serious conversation” in which one always has “the last word”? Or is that perhaps a “misrecognized monologue,” to use Lincoln’s terms? And what are the potential political implications of the assertion that scholars “have the last word”?

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    Posted in Features by Hugh Urban

    The Critical Study of Religion

    Professor Bruce Lincoln from the University of Chicago discusses a variety of topics including werewolves, critical theory, pedagogy, and self-imposed estrangement from the academic study of religion.

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    Suspicious Minds? Mentalizing, Religious Hypocrisy and Apostasy

    I am interested in how displays by religious paragons which contradict expressed statements of belief may be uniquely corrosive to the religious certainty of believers.

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    Posted in Features by Hugh Turpin

    God’s Mind, Your Mind, and Theory of Mind

    What do God’s mind and your mind have in common? A core tenet of cognitive science of religion (CSR) is that the folk-psychological ability to explain human behavior in terms of beliefs, desires and intentions – known as theory of mind (ToM) – is also a system that makes us receptive to belief in the supernatural. But why? Will Gervais has some of the answers…

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    But Mountains, Dammit!

    Are we to believe those mountains weren’t here before humans came to name them?! Mountains, dammit! They’re real and they’re mind-independent! (It’s at this point that the radical constructionists ask, “can you say that without discourse?” and then the realists really go apoplectic.)

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    Posted in Features by Craig Martin

    Social Constructionism

    What is social constructionism, and how is it important to the study of religion? Titus Hjelm explains how approaches which see social realities as built from discourses challenge how we think about ontology, epistemology and power.

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    Experiences Deemed Religious from Micro and Qualitative to Macro and Quantitative

    With the strength of a research method, there is a corresponding weakness. And these weaknesses turn out to be overcome by the strengths of other, “opposite” kinds of methods.

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    Religious Experience: Understanding and Explaining (Video)

    The RSP collaborated with Society for the Scientific Study of Religion at their 2014 Annual Meeting in Indianapolis to offer and video record an interdisciplinary panel on the study of religion. Each of the papers presented are not only from different fields in the study of religion but also methodologically or theoretically apply an interdisciplinary approach. The authors represent the best in their fields. Some are established scholars with a body of work while others are up-and-coming talent.

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    Identity Crisis: the Nones and Habitual Christianity

    Many of my participants felt that familiarity with Christianity permitted them to be critical in a way that they could not with other religious traditions.

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    Posted in Features by Katie Aston

    Is Britain still a Christian country?

    In what sense can a country be “Christian”? Today on the Religious Studies Project, we welcome back Professor Linda Woodhead to discuss and interrogate the question “Is Britain Still a Christian Country?”, the topic of her recent Croall Lectures at the University of Edinburgh.

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    Dressing in Skins of Gods: New Approaches to Aztec Religion

    Recent scholarship on Mesoamerican religions has been influenced by Mircea Eliade in a persistent fashion that has yet to be critically addressed.

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    Posted in Features by John Hoopes

    The Fate of Earthly Things

    In this interview, Molly Bassett begins by introducing us to the world of Middle America, the sources scholars use today to study this period and its cultures, and then describes the benefits and challenges of teaching with Meso-American materials. Her students learn not only to challenge the categories scholars use to describe religious ideas like “god,” but also the relationship between various methodological approaches and the limits of scholarship.

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