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We can characterize approaches that concern themselves with both religion and science in terms of the questions they ask, the presuppositions they bring to their research, the methods that they use to study religion, and the range of scientific topics that they typically engage.


  1. Questions: We can distinguish between two broad kinds of questions that inform scholarly research: (1) Questions about how religion and science have related, are related, or should relate. How, for example, can or should religious and scientific perspectives on topics, such as human origins, human nature (anthropology), or cosmology relate in the present? How have religion and scientific perspectives on various topics been related in the past? Questions such as these generally fall under the heading of science and religion. (2) Questions about how religion can be or has been understood scientifically. How might we best understand religion scientifically, e.g. from the standpoint of biology, evolution, human development, cognitive processes, social interactions, and cultural developments? How has religion been understood scientifically in the past? Questions such as these generally fall under the heading of the scientific study of religion (or science of religion).


  2. Methods and presuppositions: Researchers and programs that focus on how science and religion are or should be related typically emphasize the importance of dialogue between scientific and religious / philosophical perspectives. Students typically are trained in philosophical and/or theological methods of reflection and expected to acquire familiarity with a range of religious, philosophical, and scientific perspectives. Researchers and programs that focus on the scientific study of religion typically adopt the naturalistic presuppositions of scientific study more generally and utilize one or more empirical methods for studying religion (e.g., experimental, survey, ethnographic, and/or historical). Researchers and programs that emphasize the history of either science and religion or the scientific study of religion utilize historical methods and may engage critical theoretical perspectives that have emerged from science studies.


  3. Range of scientific topics: We can distinguish between religion-based programs that engage a wide range of scientific topics, e.g., cosmology, geology, evolution, and cognitive sciences, and those that are more focused on the mind and its development.


The training in the study of religion differs within the science of religion programs, depending on their disciplinary base:

Programmes with a base religious studies that emphasize historical and ethnographic methods, emphasize theory and method in the study of religion, and provide in depth training in an area or tradition with accompanying language study, e.g. UCSB, Aarhus.

Programmes with a base in area studies, history, or anthropology that support the study of religion often without explicit support for thinking about theory and method in the study of religion more generally, e.g. British Columbia (Asian Studies), Belfast (Anthro/Psych) and Oxford (Anthropology).

Programmes with a base in sociology or psychology that support the study of religion from a particular methodological perspective, e.g., ethnographic, survey, experimental, again typically without explicit support for either thinking about theory and method in the study of religion in-depth study of particular areas or traditions, e.g., British Columbia (psychology), Santa Barbara (psychology).



Science and Religion

Science of Religion


Journals & Reviews

Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science

Theology and Science

Studies in Science and Theology

Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith

Journal of Cognition and Culture

Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

Religion, Brain, & Behavior

The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion

IBCSR Research Review


Centres & Websites

Center for Theology and Natural Sciences (Berkeley)

Zygon Center for Religion and Science (Chicago)

Ian Ramsay Centre for Science and Religion (University of Oxford)

Metanexus Institute (Bryn Mawr, PA)

Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, University of Notre Dame

The Institute on Religion in an Age of Science

Centre for Anthropology and Mind (Oxford)

Religion, Cognition, and Culture Research Unit (Aarhus)

Center for Human Evolution, Cognition, and Culture (British Columbia)

Sage Center for the Study of the Mind (Santa Barbara)

Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture (Emory)

Institute for the Biocultural Study of Religion (Boston)

Evolutionary Religious Studies Website (SUNY Binghamton)


Programmes

Science and Religion, Faculty of Theology, University of Oxford

Psychology and Religion, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge

Science & Religion Emphasis in Track IV, Division of Religious and Theological Studies, Boston University

Religion and Psychology, Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley)

Religion, Ethics, and Philosophy, Department of Religion, Florida State University

History and Philosophy of Science, University of Notre Dame

Anthropology and Mind Emphasis, Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford

Religious Cognition Emphasis, Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, University of Cambridge

Science of Religion Emphasis in Track IV, Division of Religious and Theological Studies, Boston University

Institute of Cognition and Culture, Queen’s University (Belfast)

Cognition and Culture Emphasis, Department of the Studiesdy of Religion, University of Aarhus

Cognitive Science Emphasis, Department of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia

Cognitive Science Emphasis in Department of Religious Studies, University of California at Santa Barbara


Associations

AAAS, Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion Program

European Society for the Study of Science and Theology

International Society for Science and Religion

Religion, Science, and Technology (Unit of AAR)

Philosophy of Religion (Unit of AAR)

International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religion (IACSR)

Society for the Scientific Study of Religion

Psychology of Religion (Division 36 of APA)

Psychological Anthropology (Division of AAA)

Cognitive Science of Religion Consultation (Unit of AAR)


Features

Tend to be located in or connected to divinity schools or philosophy programs

Tend to emphasize a wide range of scientific topics

Tend to be located in secular universities

Tend to emphasize mind or cognition







This section provides information on programmes, journals, and conferences that focus on the scientific study of religion (i.e., science of religion) as it relates to cognition (or more broadly the brain, mind, culture interface) utilizing a range of empirical methodologies (e.g., experimental, ethnographic, historical).