Press

Wealth May Have Driven the Rise of Today’s Religions – CERC in Science

Wealth May Have Driven the Rise of Today’s Religions – CERC in Science

Today’s most popular religions all have one thing in common: a focus on morality. But the gods didn’t always care whether you are a bad person. Researchers have long puzzled over when and why religions moved away from a singular focus on ritual and began to encourage traits such as self-discipline, restraint, and asceticism. Now, […]

Pain Really Does Make Us Gain – Dimitris Xygalatas in the New Yorker

Pain Really Does Make Us Gain – Dimitris Xygalatas in the New Yorker

Last year, Dimitris Xygalatas, the head of the experimental anthropology lab at the University of Connecticut, decided to conduct a curious experiment in Mauritius, during the annual Thaipusam festival, a celebration of the Hindu god Murugan. For the ten days prior to the festival, devotees abstain from meat and sex. As the festival begins, they […]

Michael Muthukrishna awarded SSHRC Storyteller Final Five

Michael Muthukrishna awarded SSHRC Storyteller Final Five

As Vanier scholar, a Liu scholar and technical director of The University of British Columbia’s Database of Religious History, Brisbane, Australia’s Michael Muthukrishna is interested in applying cultural evolution research to public policy. His work explores how cultures emerge over time from the interactions of individuals, who are, in turn, shaped by the emerging cultures […]

Trial by Fire – Dimitris Xygalatas in Aeon Magazine

Trial by Fire – Dimitris Xygalatas in Aeon Magazine

On the Day of Ashura, Shia Muslims around the world gather to mourn the Imam, Husayn ibn Ali, and his defeat in the battle of Karbala (in present-day Iraq) in 680AD. They slash their heads and backs using swords or iron chains with blades until the streets are covered in blood. Every Good Friday, Catholics in […]

Do Anthropologists Consider the Ice Bucket Challenge an Extreme Ritual – Dimitris Xygalatas in Vice Magazine

Do Anthropologists Consider the Ice Bucket Challenge an Extreme Ritual – Dimitris Xygalatas in Vice Magazine

On October 2, the ALS Association announced that they would be spending the first $21.7 million of the more than $115 million raised from the Ice Bucket Challenge as they continue to search for ways to treat and cure ALS. While people like bioethicist Peter Singer may complain about Americans’ emotional giving habits, the challenge’s financial success is indisputable. Still, the question […]

Decoding a World of Religion – CERC in UC Observer

Decoding a World of Religion – CERC in UC Observer

They are among the most vexing philosophical questions to confront anyone who has given serious thought to the role of religion in society: Does religious faith, on balance, make humans more moral in their everyday lives? Do some religions promote co-operation better than others? And how did relatively young faiths like Christianity and Islam each […]

Interview with Dr. Edward Slingerland in Religio Magazine

Interview with Dr. Edward Slingerland in Religio Magazine

Dr. Edward Slingerland, professor of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, and author of a new book, Trying Not to Try: The Art and Science of Spontaneity is a self-described atheist, but also the leader of a $3-million, six-year project called “The Evolution of Religion and Morality.” This project brings together scholars from […]

To avoid stereotyping, forget being ‘colour blind’ – HECC in the Vancouver Sun

To avoid stereotyping, forget being ‘colour blind’ – HECC in the Vancouver Sun

Some academic are realizing that recognizing, understanding cultural differences is true path to getting along in multicultural society – By Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun Columnist [more]

Kiss me, I’m an atheist – CERC on Al Jazeera

Kiss me, I’m an atheist – CERC on Al Jazeera

In Pope Francis’ Christmas address, he extended a surprise olive branch to atheists. But the reach was backhanded. “I invite even nonbelievers to desire peace,” he offered. Even nonbelievers? How magnanimous. Religious tolerance has increased dramatically over the last few decades, at least in the United States. But one group remains behind the pack: atheists. A […]

What Scientific Idea is Ready for Retirement – HECC members on Edge.org

What Scientific Idea is Ready for Retirement – HECC members on Edge.org

Unlike rock stars, scientific ideas do not usually burn out. They fade away and outlast their usefulness. This is what motivated a new survey of 166 scientists and intellectuals, asking which ideas ought to be “retired” from science, not quite because they are wrong, but because they are old and ineffective, like nature versus nurture, […]