Thomas J. Coleman III

Thomas J. Coleman III graduated with a Master of Science in Psychology in August 2016 from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Currently, he is continuing his education as a Psychology Ph.D. student at Coventry University, as part of the Brain, Belief, and Behaviour Laboratory. He is an assistant editor for the journals Secularism & Nonreligion, and Secular Studies, and former Graduate Student Co-Representative for the American Psychological Association Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality Division 36, and a managing editor for The Religious Studies Project. In addition to what's in the podcasts below, his interests span research in psychological anthropology, the cognitive sciences, and philosophy of science, focusing on theory of mind and folk psychology. Coleman recently co-edited a special issue of the journal Science, Religion & Culture with John R. Shook and Ralph W. Hood Jr., titled “Atheism, Secularity, and Science” and a special issue of the American Psychological Association journal, Psychology of Religion and Spirituality with Ralph W. Hood Jr., and Heinz Streib, titled “Atheism, Agnosticism, and Non-Religious Worldviews.” More recently, Thomas has joined the Unlikely Academics Podcast as a Co-Host. Email: Colema56@uni.Coventry.ac.uk

Contributions by Thomas J. Coleman III

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The Secular Reality

"If, as [Douglas Pratt] is contending, we don’t want the “metaphysical dimension” and “stories” of religion at the personal as well as societal level, this is not persistence; this is a new phenomenon altering centuries of evolving theological trajectory." Douglas Pratt presents us with a most noble and worthwhile endeavor in his Religious Studies Project podcast entitled, The Persistence and Problem of Religion.

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RSP Psychology of Religion Participatory Panel Special

The RSP Psychology of Religion Participatory Panel Special took place during the International Association for the Psychology of Religion 2013 world congress this August in Switzerland, hosted at the at the University of Lausanne. We asked for the RSP listeners to steer the conversation and YOU responded with tough questions...

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Back in the SSSR: Reflections on the 2013 SSSR/RRA Conference

"Luckily, the overall tone of the conference and the attending scholars, were much warmer than the brisk weather outside the doors of the lovely Westin Waterfront Hotel. This conference report seeks to capture the unadulterated energy and excitement of a young scholar new to the social scientific study of religion and invite more established scholars to reflect on their early days in the field."

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‘Religion’ as 'sui generis'

In this interview with Thomas Coleman, McCutcheon discusses what he terms as the “socio-political strategy” behind the label of “sui generis” as it is applied to religion. The interview begins by exploring some of the terms used to support sui generis claims to religion (e.g. un-mediated, irreducible etc.)...

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'Secular Humanism'

In Thomas Coleman’s interview for the RSP with Tom Flynn, secular humanism is described as a “complete and balanced life stance” rejecting supernaturalism. Recorded at the Center For Inquiry’s 2013 Student Leadership Conference, Tom argues that secular humanism offers more than agnosticism and atheism.

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Religion as Anthropomorphism

In Stewart Guthrie’s interview with Thomas J. Coleman III for The Religious Studies Project, Guthrie begins by outlining what it means to ‘explain religion’. He defines anthropomorphism as “the attribution of human characteristics to nonhuman events” and gives an example of this as applied to auditory and visual phenomena throughout the interview.

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‘Religion is Natural and Science is Not’

Communicating with your favorite God or gods, forest spirit, or Jinn - easy. Postulating that the entire universe is held together by theorizing the process of quantum entanglement, informed from a personal commitment to philosophical a priories, which are based on measurements of the physical properties of said universe – harder.

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Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict

Big Gods: 1. Watched people are nice people, 2. Religion is more in the situation than in the person, 3. Hell is stronger than heaven, 4. Trust people who trust in God, 5. Religious actions speak louder than words, 6. Unworshipped Gods are impotent Gods, 7. Big Gods for Big Groups, 8. Religious groups cooperate in order to compete.

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Religion, Spirituality and Health

Religion, spiritualty and health – oh my! In this day and age, we might be inclined to ask if these three words, when combined, can contribute anything resembling a positive health outcome. In other words, can being religious or spiritual actually contribute to an individual’s overall health? Dr. Koenig answers the questions with a resounding yes!

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Sources of Meaning and Meaning in Life – An interview with Tatjana Schnell

Recently, scholars have placed the concept of ‘meaning making’ as an important area of focus within psychology of religion. Some people find meaning in religious or spiritual experience and beliefs while others find meaning on more secular mediums in life. However, if humans are truly on a “search for meaning”, as Frankl has argued, what might be some of the sources of such meaning?

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The Burning Saints, Fire-Walking Rituals of the Anastenaria

It’s dark outside. The moon hangs in the sky and the soft smell of smoke permeates the warm air as it stings your eyes. Looking down, you notice the glow from burning coals, as hot as 535 degrees C, scattered on the ground below. When Saint Constantine calls you to become a firewalker – you answer - at least if you are one of the Anastenaria.

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The Psychology of Prayer: An interview with Kevin Ladd

Ladd begins the interview by discussing what it means to pray. Perhaps most important, he explains how prayer is defined for research purposes, emphasizing that there is no essential definition, nor is one desirable. In taking care to uphold a scientific understanding of prayer, rather than a theologically apologetic one,...

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Os serés matáves: Pentecostalism in the Prisons of Rio

For Brazil’s “killable people”, there are two prevalent ways to deal with the relative hell of prison - both involving allegiance and devotion. You can give your life to the gang or give your life to God. Only three types of people dare to venture into the heart of a Minas Gerais prison: the condemned, the pentecostal pastors leading the prison ministry, ...

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Prayer, Pretense, and Personification: How God becomes real

Luhrmann details the rise of evangelicals in the 60’s and 70’s, and how anthropological work can be informed by evolutionary psychology. This serves as a framework to understand the unique training processes that teach an individual that their mind is not only open to their own thoughts, but God’s as well.

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Understanding the Secular

Making their own contributions to the discourse, Shook and Zuckerman briefly discuss the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Secularism they are co-editing, the growing field of secular studies, what it might mean to ’be secular‘, different secularisms, and offer up two different views of the relationship between categories such as ’religion‘ and ’secular‘.

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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.

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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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“Practice What You Preach”: CREDs and CRUDs

Religious actions speak louder than words. Dr. Jonathan Lanman on credibility enhancing displays (CREDs), and the role that such public displays of commitment play in the acquisition of both belief and nonbelief.Actions typically speak louder than words. A common version of this statement - practice ...

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Is Religion Special? A Critical Look at Religion, Wellbeing and Prosociality

Is religion good for your health and wellbeing? Does religion promote prosociality? While positive stereotypes prevail in these domains, studies also typically answer these questions in the affirmative and as such, it is easy to think that there must be something special, sui generis, ...

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See you in the next life? Cognitive foundations of reincarnation beliefs

Human reincarnation: Same person, different body, another life. While conceptual scaffolding surrounding the idea of reincarnation can vary widely from culture to culture, in this podcast Claire White draws on some of her recent research pointing out that many similarities exist in how individuals reason about and discern the pre-rebirth identities of the reincarnated.

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Method and Theory in the Cognitive Sciences of Religion

Recorded at the 2015 North American Association for the Study of Religion (NAASR) conference, Robert McCauley discusses methodological and theoretical issues within the cognitive sciences of religion. "Science surprises us!" - McCauley podcast with the Religious Studies Project in 2014, Dr. Robert McCauley gave an overview of some of these ...

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DEATH, Religion, and Terror Management Theory

Psychologist Dr. Jonathan Jong draws on experimental research utilizing terror management theory to discuss the role of religious and other worldviews in assuaging the fear of the inevitable—DEATH. One year before his own death in 1790, Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to the French scientist Jean-Baptiste,

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Christmas Special 2016 - The Unverifiable Truth-Claim!

"The Unverifiable Truth-claim", recorded at BASR 2016, hosted by David Robertson, and featuring Christopher Cotter, Katie Aston, Jonathan Tuckett, and Krittika Bhatta... Bhatta... Bhattacharjee! Plus a special appearance by RSP Managing Editor, Thomas Coleman!

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Misplaced Faith?: A theory of supernatural belief as misattribution

Does scientific evidence have any bearing at all on the existence of a God or gods? In this podcast, Thomas J. Coleman III interviews Dr. Luke Galen on his latest theoretical work, which combines evidence from across the psychological sciences to address how natural processes influence attributions of supernatural agency.

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Autism, Religion, and Imagination

spectrum represent a unique population of study in the cognitive and psychological sciences of religion. Because religious cognition stems from normal social-cognitive capacities, which are altered for individuals on the spectrum, researchers also expect variation in how they think about supernatural agents.

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Editors' Picks, Summer 2018: Re-Experiencing Religious Experience

According to RSP Managing Editor, Tommy Coleman, "Anyone interested in stepping out the front door of their own discipline will find this podcast, like the book, contains tools for thinking you’d better not leave home without." During our "summer break", various members of the RSP editorial team will be sharing their thoughts on some podcasts from the RSP archive that they think you should listen to (again).

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Nonreligion, Religion, and Public Health

The link between religion/spirituality (RS) and health is a recurring theme in the empirical literature within the psychology and sociology of religion, medical studies, and other disciplines. Although this research is usually limited to correlational studies, RS is often interpreted to be an important causal factor in positive health outcomes. This has led some academics, NGO's, and governments to argue that the putative health benefits of RS might be harnessed for public health and public policy more broadly. For example, the United States Army has recently launched a “spiritual health” program, and in the United Kingdom there is an ongoing debate about whether mindfulness meditation should be taught in schools. Government initiatives aside, what if the nonreligious are equally as healthy? In this podcast, Thomas J. Coleman III interviews Dr. David Speed on how research using nonreligious and nonbelieving samples problematizes some of the underlying assumptions of the relationship between RS and public health.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial- NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

The views expressed in podcasts, features and responses are the views of the individual contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Religious Studies Project or our sponsors. The Religious Studies Project is produced by the Religious Studies Project Association (SCIO), a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (charity number SC047750).