Practicing Safe Sects: Having "The Talk" About Religious Reproduction

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 - 4:00pm


Williams Hall

Where do gods come from - and why do people keep them around? Supernatural agent conceptions are born in human minds (and borne in human groups) as a result of evolved cognitive and coalitional biases that over-detect human-like forms in nature and over-protect ingroup-favoring norms in society. While religious reproduction helped our ancestors survive in the Upper Paleolithic, these biases all too easily reinforce superstitious beliefs and violent behaviors that are no longer adaptive in our pluralistic, ecologically fragile, global environment. Today, by utilizing big-data/deep-learning computational techniques and constructing philosophically precise and empirically validated social simulations, we can now study the mechanisms that lead people to engage in unsafe sects
Dr. LeRon Shults, Professor of Theology and Philosophy at the University of Agder in Kristiansand, Norway
Senior Fellow at the Institute for the Bio-Cultural Study of Religion (Boston)

Religion Studies Department
Cognitive Sciences Program

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