Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit Invited Speaker Series 2017/18
Scholars as far back as J.G. Frazer and Emile Durkheim have been debating whether it is the nature of human minds or the nature of human societies that better explains the origins and decline of religion. And while the recent success of the cognitive science of religion would seem to support those championing the importance of minds, a growing body of evidence suggests that any strong opposition between minds and societies is misleading. This is because the features of minds with the most explanatory power in determining who’s religious and who’s not are features that have evolved for social purposes (e.g. understanding, evaluating, and judging the actions of other people). In this talk, I will review the evidence suggesting that social cognitive mechanisms are more important than many other supposed factors (e.g. analytical thinking, IQ, cognitive biases, and education) in explaining who’s religious and who’s not and describe how they can help us better understand the differences in atheism and secularization in Europe and North America.
Dr. Jonathan Lanman is Co-Director of the Institute of Cognition & Culture and Lecturer in Anthropology at Queen’s University Belfast. His research aims to utilize the tools of both cognitive and social anthropology to examine religion, atheism, morality, and intergroup relations.
Dates & times
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