Latest HECC Items
Edward Slingerland – a Professor of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia – claims that recent research suggests that many aspects of a satisfying life – such as happiness and spontaneity – are best pursued indirectly. The early Chinese philosophers knew this, and they wrote extensively about an effortless way of being in the world. We’ve long […]
Benjamin Grant Purzycki & CERC in Nature Belief in moralistic, punitive gods that take an interest in human affairs may have facilitated the expansion of human societies, finds a study published in Nature this week. Several theories have been invoked to explain the expansion of human cooperation and societal complexity, which has been taking place since the origins […]
HECC and CERC are proud to launch the New Science of Religion Series, a video and podcast collaboration with Transliminal Media and funded by UBC and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
At this time of year, many Canadian households are setting up Christmas trees, lighting menorahs, celebrating the birth of Prophet Muhammad, or marking the solstice. And an increasing number of families are observing more than one religious holiday. As UBC psychology professor Ara Norenzayan explains, interfaith families are a part of a diverse society. They […]
Supernatural punishment, in-group biases, and material insecurity: experiments and ethnography from Yasawa, Fiji
Rita Anne McNamara, Ara Norenzayan, and Joseph Henrich “Supernatural punishment, in-group biases, and material insecurity: experiments and ethnography from Yasawa, Fiji.” Religion, Brain & Behavior Vol. 6, Iss. 1, 2016
Warriors among the Kwara’ae, a collection of tribal communities indigenous to the Solomon Islands, sacrificed pigs before battle. The tradition granted the combatants, so the belief went, aid from heroic ancestral spirits—like the mighty A’orama, a fierce fighter in Kwara’ae folklore. For every man who prepared to shed blood, a hog met its end. [more]
Slingerland, Edward. “Big Gods, Historical Explanation, and Bringing Religious Studies Out of the Intellectual Ghetto,” Religion (September 2015).
In January of this year, Anders Petersen folded his nearly 2-meter frame into an airplane seat for a flight from Copenhagen to Vancouver, Canada, crossing two continents on his way to check boxes on a computer screen. It would be a new experience for the religious studies scholar from Aarhus University in Denmark, who, like […]
An ancient Egyptian spent her whole life preparing for the moment when her heart would be weighed. After death, she was escorted before a divine scale. In one pan rested an ostrich feather belonging to Maat, the goddess of social order. The other pan held her heart. The deceased had been buried with a list […]
The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter Humans are a puzzling species. On the one hand, we struggle to survive on our own in the wild, often unable to solve basic problems, like obtaining food, building shelters or avoiding predators. On the other hand, […]