Atheism

Religious Symbols, Secularism, and Culture Wars

Podcast
In this episode, Matt Sheedy joins RSP co-editor Andie Alexander to discuss his recent book Owning the Secular: Religious Symbols, Culture Wars, Western Fragility and unpack common assumptions about secularism and religion in the public sphere.

Developing a Critical Study of Non-Religion

Podcast
Can discourse analysis help scholars avoid the pitfalls of studying non-religion? In his new book, RSP Co-Founder Christopher R. Cotter argues it can. Speaking with co-host Breann Fallon, this interview highlights the challenges of studying non-religion while celebrating the promise of new methodologies.

Unbelief as a Nuanced Phenomenon: The Sociality of Nonreligion across Europe

Podcast
Unbelief has often been defined as either ignorance or rejection of religious systems, but this week's guests David Herbert and Josh Bullock see far more diversity in the ways one can be nonreligious based on their research on Gen Y in Europe.

Science Fiction and the Para-Religious

Response
[I]t is notable how infrequently religion appears as a major theme in the personal lives of famous science fiction authors and how many, including those for whom religion is a major theme in their work, are themselves either atheists or practitioners of idiosyncratic or unorganized alternative spiritualities...

Atheism, New Religious Movements, and Cultural Tension

Podcast
Extensive research has been conducted in exploration of the American religious landscape; however, only recently has social science research started to explore nonbelief in any detail. Research on nonbelief has been limited as most research focuses on the popularity of the religious “nones” or the complexities of alternative faith expressions such as spirituality. Through two studies, one qualitative and one quantitative, Dr. Christopher F. Silver's research explored how nonbelievers’ self-identify.

The Study of Religion and National Identity in Estonia

Podcast
Chris and Atko Remmel discuss Estonia, a context in which notions and debates on religion, atheism, and indifference are interrelated in complex ways with the history of nationalism, and two foreign religious-secular regimes: German Lutheran and Soviet Atheism.

Editors’ Picks, Summer 2018: Disenchanting India

Response
This week, Ella Bock tells us why she thinks you should re-listen to our interview with Johannes Quack on Indian Rationalism, and a Relational Approach to Non-religion: "A great listen for better understanding the boundary between religion and non-religion, especially outside of a western context!"

From Non-Religion to Unbelief? A developing field…

Podcast
In this podcast, we check in with the state of the field, discuss developments beyond the Anglophone "West", some of the many exciting projects being worked on under the "Understanding Unbelief" banner, the utility and pitfalls of the terminology of "unbelief", and some of the critical issues surrounding the reification of survey categories.

Permutations of Secularism

Podcast
In this interview, we first focus on the origins of the term “secularism,” the proliferation of its meanings, and the uses to which it is put in Anglo-American contexts. Then we discuss the uses of the terms secularism and the secular today, particularly using a specific case study from Joe’s research on American nonbeliever organizations.

Surveying the Sacred and Secular

Response
With a good representative sample, we can learn about how religion shapes the way people answer new questions, rather than what they believe about the issues alone. The RSP’s interview with Darren Sherkat arrives at a time when research on religion has caught a bit of the media spotlight. Both The Atlantic and Religion Dispatches recently touched on issues with surveys in their reviews of Robert Wuthnow’s new book, Inventing American Religion. In this book, ...

In Praise of Polyvocality

Response
Perhaps my greatest argument against ‘non-religion’ has been based on the notion that it stands as a relational umbrella... A few weeks back, I found myself engaged in a one-sided debate with a colleague friend over the use of the term ‘non-religion.’ As it was at the end of a two-day conference, it was one of those casual conversations wherein certain sophisticated aspects of the preceding academic discourse spill over into the informality of a chat over drinks.

Indian Rationalism, and a Relational Approach to Nonreligion

Podcast
It is unfortunate fact that in popular ‘Western’ imagination, the land of India is frequently orientalised, and naively conceptualized as ‘the quintessential land of religion, spirituality, and miracles.’ Although we would certainly not want to completely invert this stereotype by substituting one unnuanced and inaccurate construct for another, ...

“Understanding Religious Change” – 2015 ASR Conference Report

Response
77th Annual Meeting of the Association for the Sociology of Religion (ASR), 20-22 August 2015, in Chicago, Illinois. Conference report for The Religious Studies Project by Amanda Schutz, PhD student in the School of Sociology, University of Arizona. The theme of this year’s annual ASR meeting was a familiar one among social science conferences: understanding change. In her presidential address, “Complex Religion:

2015 APA Convention Report (Religion and Spirituality Research)

Response
Conference report for The Religious Studies Project by David Bradley, a PhD student at Case Western Reserve University. The American Psychological Association’s 123rd Annual Convention was held in Toronto, Ontario from August 6 through August 9, 2015. Conferences often have an organizing theme, but the APA Convention is simply too big to be focused on one or two themes.

Measuring Secularity

Response
While often rigorously testing for variance among the religious, many studies treat the irreligious as if they have a static identity, resulting in an elision of the range of beliefs and behaviors that have been found within this growing group. At the home of the first secular studies undergraduate program, amid dozens of secularity scholars from around globe, Tommy Coleman's interview with sociologist ...

Understanding the Secular

Podcast
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‘.

Science and Religion in Europe: A Historical Perspective

Podcast
Professor Peter Harrison discusses the false historical assumptions behind the current perception that "science" and "religion" have always been in conflict. Providing a wide-ranging historical overview, Harrison begins with the early interplay between religious institutions and scientific activity, ...

Resisting Conformity at the Margins of Marginal Christianity

Response
Acknowledging the difficulties surrounding the identification and definition of a subject of study that is not only deliberately diverse but also intentionally resistant to definition, Ganiel and Martí nonetheless discern within emerging Christianity a distinct religious orientation built around the practice of deconstruction. In what her interviewer has reckoned to be the first Religious Studies Project podcast to focus solely on the study of an expression of contemporary Christianity,...

When Atheists Pray…

Response
An atheist could perform all kinds of prayer in the exact same way a believer does but would not necessarily perceive his (or her) actions to be connected to a higher power. In his interview with Thomas Coleman for the Religious Studies Project, Dr.Kevin Ladd talks about his research on prayer. Dr. Ladd explains how he got interested in the topic,...

An Outline of Norenzayan’s ‘Big Gods’

Response
When belief in God was distilled into belief in a mean God (i.e., vengeful, and punishing) versus belief in a nice God (i.e., compassionate and forgiving), participants endorsing a mean-God concept were less likely to cheat relative to nice-God supporters. In his book Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict, Dr. Ara Norenzayan addresses two “puzzles” about human existence. First, how were large-scale societies able to develop?

Religion in the Age of Cyborgs

Response
What happens to religion if the future belongs to the cyborgs? Merlin Donald’s Big Thoughts on the evolution of culture offer opportunities to speculate about the place of religion in the natural history of our species – an opportunity most recently taken by Robert Bellah in his much discussed last book, Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age (2011).

To Atheism – And Beyond! Where Nonbelievers Go

Response
Many of the religious “nones,” the term used to describe those who do not identify with a religion, have deeply held spiritual, mystical, or New Age beliefs that are antithetical to the values of Secular Humanism The motto of the Council for Secular Humanism is “Beyond atheism. Beyond agnosticism. Secular Humanism.” Yet, the Council for Secular Humanism is just one place beyond nonbelief that atheists and agnostics can go to explore what it means to be a nonbeliever.

‘Secular Humanism’

Podcast
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.

RSP Psychology of Religion Participatory Panel Special

Podcast
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...

Five Lectures on Atheism, Nonreligion, and Secularity, from the NSRN

Podcast
In partnership with the NSRN (Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network), it is our pleasure to bring you the audio recordings of five very important lectures from Grace Davie, Humeira Iqtidar, Callum Brown, Monika Wohlrab-Sahr, and Jonathan Lanman.

A Word by Any Other Name: The Emergent Field of Non-religion and the Implications for Social Meaning

Response
"As I write this response, I find myself in an inner struggle as a Social Scientist. In one sense Dr Lee’s podcast and my subsequent response beg a question of causation. For me the question has its origins in the psychological. Does atheism and/or agnosticism lead to secularization and by proxy non-religious systems of meaning? Or as a social movements continue to gain adherents, do we see a diffusion of new ideas."

Non-religion

Podcast
What is 'nonreligion'? Is it atheism? Is it secularism? Is it football? Today, Dr. Lois Lee, a leading scholar of nonreligion and the founding director of the NSRN, joins Chris and Ethan to discuss this emerging field of 'nonreligion' and critical methods for studying the 'nonreligious'. Tune in to learn more!

The Last Best Hope of Earth? Bron Taylor and the Limits of Dark Green Religion

Response
Bron Taylor, Professor of Religion and Nature at the University of Florida, and editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature (2008), may be the best interpreter of environmentalism as a religious project working today. His latest book, Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future (2010), argues that the constellation of spiritual and naturalistic worldviews

Psychological Approaches to the Study of Religion

Podcast
Last November, Chris had the pleasure of chatting to Professor Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi about the psychological approach, how one applies it to the study of religion, and the various challenges and advantages contained therein.