Science on Religion

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Religion and the Brain Project (2004-2006)

This project was dedicated to exploring important and controversial contemporary hypotheses about the relation between the brain, evolution, and religion. For example, does the human neurocognitive system exhibit specializations that support or mediate religious experience of various kinds? Are some core aspects of religious behaviors, beliefs, or experiences adaptive neurobehavioral systems? Or are they mere byproducts of an all-purpose big-brain cognitive system? That the brain somehow mediates some aspects of religiosity is a less controversial claim. But just how the brain manages that feat and what, if any, the implications are for biological anthropology, the neurosciences, theology, and society, remain unanswered questions.

The project resulted in publication of 3 volumes in Dr. Harold J. Ellens' “Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality" Series of Praeger Publishers, Greenwood Press, and Debbie Carvalko, Acquisitions Editor. The series of 3 volumes, edited by Patrick McNamara, with contributions by McNamara and Wesley Wildman, feature essays by over 36 experts on the topic of neuropsychological and evolutionary approaches to religious behaviors, beliefs, and experiences. The volumes offer "innovative ideas, provocative considerations, and useful beginnings" for understanding the neuropsychology and evolutionary psychology of religion. For more information, see Where God and Science Meet.

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