The Science of Religion
About this courseSkip About this course
Drawing on new scientific advances, this religion course examines foundational questions about the nature of religious belief and practice.
The course is based on the idea that religion is a naturalistic phenomenon — meaning it can be studied and better understood using the tools of science. Religious belief and practice emerge naturally from the structure of human psychology, and have an important impact on the structure of societies, the way groups relate to each other, and the ability of human beings to cooperate effectively.
Topics to be covered will include traditional and contemporary theories of religion, with a special emphasis on cultural evolutionary models.
The initial production of this MOOC was partially funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada Partnership Grant on ‘The Evolution of Religion and Morality’ (PI: Edward Slingerland), and represents one of this grant’s major knowledge mobilization and research dissemination initiatives. Its maintenance and update has received additional support from a generous donation from the John Templeton Foundation. We also recognize the contribution of The Templeton World Charity (Project title: "The Science of Religion: A Massively Open Online Course”)
At a glance
What you'll learnSkip What you'll learn
- Evolutionary and cognitive scientific approaches to the study of religion
- The origins of religion, and its role in human life
- How religion relates to morality, spirituality and atheism
- The role of religion in current events and conflict hotspots around the world
- The role religion may have played in the origin of civilization