Discussions

On the Turning Tide – Ben Purzycki on This View of Life

On the Turning Tide – Ben Purzycki on This View of Life

This year’s Society for the Scientific Study of Religion meeting in Boston (November 8-10) hosted the 6th consecutive suite of sessions devoted to biological and evolutionary approaches to religion (the BEAR sessions) organized by Jay Feierman. Jay has worked tirelessly to keep the conversation going and this year’s sessions included three sections with presenters whose work represents cutting […]

The Psychology and Cultural Evolution of Religion Predicts Bias in Philosophy of Religion

The Psychology and Cultural Evolution of Religion Predicts Bias in Philosophy of Religion

“What is the first business of philosophy? To part with self-conceit. For it is impossible for anyone to begin to learn what he thinks that he already knows.” —Epictetus, Discourses, Book 2, Ch. 17.

Overcoming Interdisciplinary Stalemates

Overcoming Interdisciplinary Stalemates

A previous generation of historians appears to have grand, often grandiose, ways of describing the Lisbon Earthquake. It “destroyed a firmly fixed image of the divine order on earth” (Seligo 1958, 21), marked “the end of optimism” (McKendrick 1974, 22), “struck the Western world like a thunderbolt, and forever transformed the philosophy of human thought” (Bestermann […]

On Subsistence and the Evolution of Religion

On Subsistence and the Evolution of Religion

In their recent article, Peoples and Marlowe (PM) contribute another piece in the puzzle of the emergence of moralistic Big Gods.  Using data from the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample, PM demonstrate that commitment to High Moral Cop-Gods correlates with pastoralism.   While some have found a relationship between High Gods and water shortage (e.g., Roes and Raymond […]

Database Planning

Database Planning

  On November 14-15 the database working group, consisting of Edward Slingerland, Harvey Whitehouse, Peter Turchin, Mark Collard, and Pieter Francois met on the U Conn campus in Storrs, CT, for an intense, 2-day meeting to finalize the database structure and prioritize goals for the first year. UBC’s database expert, Maria Robinson, flew in to […]

Back to the Future – A Response to Martin and Wiebe

Back to the Future – A Response to Martin and Wiebe

(This piece is a response to Martin and Wiebe’s Religious Studies as a Scientific Discipline: The Persistence of a Delusion, with both the original piece and this response published in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. The full discussion is currently online here.) A Response to Martin and Wiebe Edward Slingerland Canada Research […]

Too Late – Models of Cultural Evolution and Group Selection Have Already Proved Useful

Too Late – Models of Cultural Evolution and Group Selection Have Already Proved Useful

Joseph Henrich Anthropologist and Professor of Psychology and Economics. Canada Research Chair in Culture, Cognition and Coevolution. University of British Columbia. Apprehending the place of “group selection” in evolutionary thinking requires understanding the use of formal mathematical models. Many scientific disciplines, ranging from engineering to ecology, develop mathematical models to study, analyze and understand complex […]