Daniel Dennett and the Scientific Study of Religion

Posted: 10 de June de 2011 by Fernando Furtado in Event

Daniel Dennett and the Scientific Study of Religion

A Celebration of the Fifth Anniversary of Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon


LOCATION: Center for Inquiry, 1310 Sweet Home Road, Amherst, New York

DATES: Friday (evening) and Saturday (day), December 2–3, 2011

Scheduled Speakers: Daniel Dennett (Tufts University, Boston), Pascal Boyer (Washington University, Saint Louis), Andrew Newberg (Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia), Azim Sheriff (University of Oregon), Eugene Taylor (Harvard Medical School), Wesley Wildman (Boston University School of Theology)



Daniel Dennett’s 2006 book Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon is a bold vision of religion as an entirely natural phenomena, amenable to study by the various social, behavioral, and cognitive sciences. This conference’s theme is the further pursuit of the scientific study of religion, along the major lines elaborated by Dennett together with pioneering research that is presently advancing this important interdisciplinary effort.


• Deadline: September 1, 2010. Early submissions will be eligible for an early decision.
• Papers between 3,000 and 5,000 words. Include a 100-word abstract at the beginning.
• Send paper as an attachment to an email to John Shook at jshook@centerforinquiry.net

• Details about the conference will be updated at http://www.centerforinquiry/research
• Questions about conference logistics may be directed to John Shook, jshook@centerforinquiry.net




Dr. Pascal Boyer is Henry Luce Professor of Individual and Collective Memory at Washington University in St. Louis. He teaches in the Psychology and Anthropology departments. Boyer is a leading investigator in naturalistic explanations of religion. His book Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought has been a leading text in the study of religion for a decade.


Dr. Daniel Dennett is Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University and Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts. Among his many books relating to science and religion are Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? (with Alvin Plantinga, 2011); Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomena(2006); Freedom Evolves (2003); and Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (1995).


Dr. Andrew Newberg is Director of Research at the Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Medical College. He is also Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His work attempts to better understand the nature of religious and spiritual practices and experiences. This has been compiled into his latest book, Principles of Neurotheology, which reviews the important principles and foundations of neurotheology.


Dr. Azim Shariff is Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon. His research encompasses cultural and evolutionary psychology, society and personality, religion, and morality. Some of his research is done with collaborator Ara Norenzayan, and a recent article of theirs is “Mean Gods Make Good People” (Shariff & Norenzayan, 2011).


Dr. Eugene Taylor is a historian and philosopher of psychology. He is Lecturer in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Senior Psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and he also is on the faculty of Saybrook University. He is internationally known for his work on the American philosopher-psychologist, William James.


Dr. Wesley Wildman is Associate Professor of Philosophy, Theology, and Ethics at Boston University’s School of Theology. He is Founding Director of the Institute for the Biocultural Study of Religion. His recent book is Religious Philosophy as Multidisciplinary Comparative Inquiry: Envisioning a Future for the Philosophy of Religion, and another book is forthcoming, titled Religious and Spiritual Experiences.


John Shook


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