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Cognitive science gaining ground in U.S. academic religion studies

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.

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2 comments on “Cognitive science gaining ground in U.S. academic religion studies

  1. Interesting that you say Ann has “converted” to CSR. A funny choice of wording that is more than a little indicative of how some of see this emerging branch of study.

  2. Re: the Faithworld article. Guthrie’s book was one of the items on the reading list for the first graduate course on theory of religion that I took at Duke. I don’t remember how it was received by the class in 2002 or so.

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