Religion, Brain and Behavior 7 (4):366-370 (2017)

Joshua Myers
New York University
The proposals gathered under the rubric of “Hilbert Problems” (HPs) demonstrate the progress, the disciplinary maturity, and the distinctive analytical potential of bio-cultural approaches to the study of religion. The HPs identify and investigate the ubiquitous evolutionary, cognitive, and neural processes that undergird the disparate array of religious phenomena. Many of the proposals offer fresh perspectives on conventional components of religion by connecting the study of religion to disciplines as diverse as psychiatry, semiotics, and statistics. In these ways, the HPs demonstrate the naturalness of religion in the evolution of the human species. This short commentary briefly explores the issues of the definition of religion, religion and morality, the naturalistic basis for religious hermeneutics, and tradition-centered research and suggests ways in which the humanities can inform and enrich bio-cultural approaches. It proposes that collaboration between science and the humanities can advance research and help illuminate religion’s relevance to humanity’s lived experience.
Keywords religion  cognitive science of religion  definition of religion
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