FaithWorld has a new report on the cognitive science of religion (CSR).
The academic study of religion has come a long way from the days when knowledge of scripture, history and a few ancient languages were the main qualifications a scholar needed. Psychology, sociology and other social sciences have been applied to the field for over a century. Over the past 20 years, cognitive science has been edging into the field, especially with the explosion of neuroscience research. Some of the hottest research into religion is now being done with brain scanners searching for data on what happens inside believers’ heads when they pray or feel a special connection to God.
With Ann Taves (my graduate adviser and a historian who in recent years has converted to CSR) as president-elect of the American Academy of Religion, the next year or so should be an interesting time for the field.