Scientific study into religious belief launched

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Oxford researchers have received a £1.9 million grant for the development of the study of the cognitive science of religion – a scientific approach to why humans believe in God and other issues around the nature and origin of religious belief.

The award has been made by the John Templeton Foudation to the Oxford Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion and the Centre for Anthropology and Mind. It will be used to draw together and promote the latest scientific ideas about the meaning of religion and its origin in the human mind.

The cognitive sciences include all aspects of the study of the mind and intelligence, ranging across fields as diverse as evolutionary biology, neuroscience, linguistics and computer sciences. They offer a complex set of tools for looking at the full range of human behaviour.

Dr Justin Barrett, a psychologist who has been at the forefront of the development of the cognitive science of religion, will be playing a lead role in the new study. He said: ‘Cognitive science can help to explain the origin and nature of human religion. For example, developmental psychology has been instrumental in determining that belief in religion seems to be an integral part of human nature – it is found across all cultures and is something that we grasp from a young age.

‘The cognitive science of religion allows us to take a subtler approach to questions such as the alleged divisiveness of religion – looking at whether the conflicts associated with religion are a product of human nature itself.’

'The next step therefore is to look at some of the detailed questions – which religious beliefs are most common, and most natural for the human mind to grasp. The exciting questions in this field are in the details – how does the mind vary in its response to different forms of religion, such as polytheism and monotheism for example, and what is the relationships between religion and evolutionary biology – is religion a part of the selection process that has helped us survive or merely a by-product of evolution?’

Professor Roger Trigg, Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Theology Faculty and Co-Principal Investigator for the study, said: ‘Religion has played an important role in public life over the last few years and the debate about the origin of religion, and how it fits into the human mind has intensified. This study will not prove or disprove any aspect of religion, it will allow us to have a more intelligent and informed debate and to support this with a vastly expanded and improved supply of evidence – particularly the quantitative skills which tend to be less common amongst theologians.’

The grant will also provide training for scholars to build up scientific and quantitative skills and support a number of seminars and workshops. A large part of the award, £800,000, will be used to run a ‘small grant competition’ providing 41 grants to support work by a range of scholars carrying out diverse individual research projects that will be the building blocks of the further development of the field.

Source: By University Of Oxford

Comments

Submitted by Mong H Tan, PhD (not verified) on
RE: Science must understand (but not fear or mock) Religion, and vice versa! I would like to congratulate the qualified Oxford researchers for their endeavors well undertaken; and forever scientifically and rationally, mute the irrational anti-religious Scientism of their colleague’s as expressed in Richard Dawkins’ 2006 book “The God Delusion”—whose abusive use of Darwinism as his personal “hysterical atheism” is unconscionable, by any scholarly standards, let alone scientific, philosophical, or critical in pursuit of religious matters! Author “Decoding Scientism” (work in progress since July 2007).

Submitted by Your Name (not verified) on
Good beginning, but I must tell you that there is still need to understand the differance between humans believe in God as an evolutional and actual belief in God given by God by Jesus Christ phenomenon. As a physicist I have a scientific solution for the process of transformation from human's to God's state. So there is an physics explanation of Jesus Christ experience, crossing death and bad influence from others. To understand and get positive scientific result I have resolved important bible story, that makes further christian facts and predictions clear and resolved. Please read it below: "For correct understanding of Christian religion and all that is connected with christianity it is necessary to interpret truly bible history about Adam and Eve which are Jesus Christ's ancestors. Talks that Eve was seduced of serpent, an animal in common understanding, are only fables as well that Eve has eaten a fruit of a tree - fruit in common understanding. Well-known, that people live on the Earth not one ten thousand years and it is undisputable. The valid solution of bible stories about Adam and Eve is following: Approximately 7 thousand years ago in area of Iraq and Kuwait lived people, similarly to as people lived in historical civilizations known to us. That small society is named in the bible as the garden. The God "has spread" this garden, having collected from nearby settlements of such people which would live harmoniously and happily. The God has chosen the man from the environment of these people and has generated him on the God’s image and similarity. This formation consists from biofield influence and the voice reference. For Adam has been choosen the wife from the environment of local girls. For reason they love each other and kept in pair, the god has guided at Adam a dream, has taken from him a piece of biofield substance and has enclosed it to Eve. After, she became Adam’s wife. Adam and Eve were created from people whom the God names by words "dust of the earth" or "earth," which mean “material” for the god’s creations. The God also names the creations as trees, and a generality of creations as a garden. In the Eden garden (paradise) there was planted the tree of a life – creation, which associates with beauty and surplus of a quality biofield. This tree of a life was in pair i.e. as the man and the woman and played key role in the society (“was in the middle of the paradise”). Also, in the paradise there was, so called, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, about which the God spoke Adam and Eve that they did not eat from that tree. This tree mean a man and (or) woman which are associated with serpent. This tree was formed by the anti- angel, which appeared during the God’s creation. It was stronger and could do much harm to Adam and Eve, which were not been strengthened yet. “The serpent” tree has seduced Eve, that is: it was artful and strong man, which has entered into communication and interaction with Eve. After that, Eve got bad biofield influence and passed it to Adam. After Eve and Adam's sin, the God has damned them both and the serpent. Adam and Eve have been expelled from the paradise, which really means they have gone to Adam’s origin settlement. The God had been put an angel, who closed to Adam road to a tree of a life, that is: did not give Adam and its descendants to be on top of a life of a society, but "to process the earth" which will yield to Adam thorny fruits, that is it is difficult to earn for itself a worthy place in a society. Later the God watched Adam and Eve's descendants. It kept best of them, down to Jesus Christ's birth, which started new creation, leading to establishment of strong and nice man&woman with everlasting life. So, all the living being history is an interaction between the God, people and nature. We are the God’s creation subject and also we are sub-creators. This is mutual process. At this stage of history people stand very close to the God, which will dramatically change their life. Phenomena such as “everlasting life”, “God”, “Jesus Christ”, “religion” must be definitly resolved. Petro Nepyivoda Ukraine freeuk@ukr.net +380-501538591"

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