Changing Minds: Religion and Cognition Through the Ages

Edited by I. Czachesz and T. Biró

Changing Minds (cover image)

This volume addresses the problem of change and continuity in religious traditions from the perspective of cognitive science. Relying on the rapidly growing body of scientific knowledge about the human mind, the authors examine cross-culturally recurrent religious phenomena and specific reli-gious traditions, in an attempt to explain why religions change dynamically whilst still exhibiting high degrees of continuity. The volume contributes to our understanding of how social and cultural phenomena emerge from mental processes taking place in the brains of many individuals.

The cognitive turn in the humanities entails not only a new, biologically grounded view of human phenomena, but also novel questions and methods. Some of the chapters, written by philosophers and linguists, discuss what the study of religion can learn from other disciplines that have already undertaken the cognitive turn. Anthropologists and psychologists of religion build bridges from different areas within the cognitive sciences to very specific issues of religion; they thus pave the way for Biblical scholars and theologians who are embracing the new cognitive method.

First International Workshop on the Cognitive Study of Religious Texts

Place: Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen
Oude Boteringestraat 38

Date: 3-4 March 2010

Conference website...

Mind, Society, and Tradition in Auckland

During the 2008 International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, to be held on 6-11 July 2008 in Auckland, New Zealand, the programme unit organises two sessions. The first session will be focusing on altruism, morality, and cooperation in Biblical Literature and Biblical Religions from the perspective of the cognitive science of religion and/or social scientific theory. We are inviting proposals for the second session, dealing with social-scientific and/or cognitive approaches in the study of biblical texts and traditions.

First EXREL project conference

The Centre will host the first conference of the European NEST project Explaining Religion between 1-3 February, 2008. Two other conferences will take place in 2009 and 2010.


Mind, Society, and Tradition

(New program unit for the SBL International Meetings)

Chairs: István Czachesz & Risto Uro

This program unit aims to initiate a dialogue and cross-disciplinary theory forming in biblical studies between social-scientific methods and the so-called cognitive science of religion. The cognitive science of religion is a new multidisciplinary field that has emerged in the 1990s. It is interested in cross-culturally recurrent patterns in religious thought, experience, and practice, explaining these regularities in terms of the architecture of the human mind. This field has opened up new ways of understanding religiosity as well as the emergence and development of religious movements, sometimes challenging established theories in classical anthropology and comparative religion. These developments have potential relevance to biblical studies.

The program unit welcomes papers using either traditional social-scientific or new cognitive approaches, or their combination. Of particular interest are studies focusing on interaction between mind and society, cognition and culture, as well as on the transmission of religious knowledge. Relevant theories and areas include memory studies, social identity theory, evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, ritual theories, models of counterintuitiveness, theory of mind, social cognition, emotion, and religious experience.

Visit the SBL Call for Papers page to propose a paper for the 2008 Meeting in Vienna, New Zealand.

The Archive for Religion and Cognition is online!

Please visit the ARC website and submit your papers, pre-prints and other materials that are related to the Cognitive Science of Religion.

Explaining Religion

The EC Project Explaining Religion explores the universal religious repertoire.

Participating institutions include the University of Oxford, Queen's University (Belfast), University of Aarhus, University of Groningen, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (Paris), University of Salzburg, University of Zurich, New Bulgarian University, and Brunel University.

The Centre will host three conferences of the programme between 2008 and 2010.

For more information, please visit the EXREL project website.

International Workshop on Religion and Cognition

Place: University of Groningen (The Netherlands)

Date: 6th-7th April 2006

Conference website...