Psychology of Religion, Miscellaneous

August 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Psychology of Christianity: Part 1, The Bigger Tent an overview of the Christian faith, noting its theological distinctives while simultaneously reviewing the empirical literature related to Christian belief and practice. Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13

Faith in a Higher Power: The Study of Religion in Psychology Although religious belief is a cornerstone for roughly 85 percent of the world’s population, it has never been the most popular subject of study among psychologists. However, there has been a surge of interest in religion within the past two years…

Religion, science, and the humanities: an interview with Barbara Herrnstein SmithNatural Reflections: Human Cognition at the Nexus of Science and Religion (Yale, 2009). It explores the ways in which contemporary cognitive science and evolutionary psychology are being called upon to, once and for all, explain religion.

The Evolution of Religion: How Cognitive By-Products, Adaptive Learning Heuristics, Ritual Displays, and Group Competition Generate Deep Commitments to Prosocial Religions Understanding religion requires explaining why supernatural beliefs, devotions, and rituals are both universal and variable across cultures, and why religion is so often associated with both large-scale cooperation and enduring group conflict.

The origins of religion : evolved adaptation or by-product? One proposal views religion as an adaptation for cooperation, whereas an alternative proposal views religion as a by-product of evolved, non-religious, cognitive functions. We critically evaluate each approach, explore the link between religion and morality in particular, and argue that recent empirical work in moral psychology provides stronger support for the by-product approach.

Religious Experiences Shrink Part of the Brain A study links life-changing religious experiences, like being born again, with atrophy in the hippocampus

Scales of Justice: Guilt and Pain Research found that experiencing pain reduces people’s feelings of guilt

Be wary of the righteous rationalist: We should reject Sam Harris’s claim that science can be a moral guidepost Harris, a neuroscientist, rejects the notion that science and religion can coexist. We can’t believe in science, Harris says, and still believe in supernatural beings that part seas, resurrect dead people and keep tabs on our naughtiness and niceness.


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