Paul Robertson

“Religion and Science” explores the kinds of truth-claims that religions make, and how evolutionary psychology can explain why these types of religious truth-claims seem intuitive, powerful, and insightful. Evolutionary psychology has shown how ancient, survivalist pressures shaped our cognition in shared, species-wide ways. Our evolved, shared cognitive processes in turn have laid the groundwork for cross-cultural, religious truth-claims such as (1) the existence of superhuman agents, (2) the interest and investment of these supernatural agents in human affairs, (3) religion’s role in moral policing, and (4) beliefs in extra-scientific sources of authority. In this project, students will be applying evolutionary theories from cognitive science to case studies on different cultures’ religions, to explore how non-scientific truth claims occur and why they tend to persist or even out-compete scientific views of truth.