Understanding Religion

Though we can't prove the existence of one (or many) god(s), we can provide evidence for the power of religion. For good or for evil, faith factors into our everyday functioning: We've evolved to believe. Religion can help us make sense of our world, provide motivation, and bind us together. Nevertheless, structured belief has its drawbacks. So keep your mind open when dealing with dogma.

Recent posts on Religion

Are Female Misogynists on the Rise?

By Jen Kim on October 25, 2016 in Valley Girl With a Brain
Has the Trump campaign made women turn on each other?

The Dark Side of Oxytocin

Normally thought of as purely positive in its effects, oxytocin is also implicated in religion, nationalism, and xenophobia.
Wikimedia Commons

Open or Closed Sexual Relationships?

What do we know about consensual non-monogamous relationships? This study is a first step.

Are Americans Really Becoming Less Religious?

By Clay Routledge Ph.D. on October 23, 2016 in More Than Mortal
Are Americans becoming more secular or just finding new ways to explore spiritual questions and beliefs?

Can Putting a Price on a Kidney Save Lives?

The idea of putting a value on a human organ seems bizarre—and even unconscionable. But I suggest those intuitions do us more harm than good.

Why Are Scientists So Close-Minded?

By David Ludden Ph.D. on October 07, 2016 in Talking Apes
The more you learn about the brain, the more you question the religious teachings of your childhood.
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The Danger of Claiming That Rights Come From God

By David Niose on October 06, 2016 in Our Humanity, Naturally
To many, there's an appeal to the argument that rights come from God. But freedom is much more secure if we realize that rights flow from humanity progress.

Can You Be Secular and Still Love Jesus?

By Phil Zuckerman Ph.D. on October 04, 2016 in The Secular Life
Can one admire Jesus, even if you don't believe that he's the Son of God?

The Impact of Devotional Practices on Religious Belief

Although purely devotional practices seem to reinforce explicit religious beliefs, they seem to have little effect on either implicit religious representations or their influence.

The 6 Most Common Prejudices in the Dating World

By Seth Meyers Psy.D. on October 03, 2016 in Insight Is 20/20
Some common prejudices in dating are obvious and others are hard to spot. Here are the most common prejudices that exist in the dating world.

You Can Be Fired for Wearing Dreadlocks

A federal court and court of appeals held that an Alabama company had the right to rescind its offer of employment to an African American woman who insisted on wearing dreadlocks.

Dancing With the Standing Rock Sioux

By Kimerer LaMothe Ph.D. on September 30, 2016 in What a Body Knows
Why dance when you are protesting the construction of an oil pipeline?

Trump's Appeal to White, Christian America

By Nathan A Heflick Ph.D. on September 30, 2016 in The Big Questions
Can nueroscience research provide clues into the support of Donald Trump among White, religious people in America?

Is Buddhist Enlightenment Evolving to Become More Communal?

By Dale Wright on September 30, 2016 in Buddhist Enlightenment
That there are good reasons to conclude that the meaning of "enlightenment" in Buddhism is evolving beyond individual spirituality toward deeper communal sensibilities.

Can a Relationship Survive After Betrayal?

By Randi Gunther Ph.D. on September 30, 2016 in Rediscovering Love
Even when a relationship seems healthy and unassailable, they can fall prey to a betrayal that cannot be easily predicted or explained.

I Think, Therefore I'll Die

By Steve Stankevicius M.D. on September 28, 2016 in The Skeptical Shrink
For many, the afterlife offers the quintessential form of closing the eyes and blocking the ears. But for people like myself who do not subscribe to the stories, what are we to do?

Oxytocin, Spirituality, and the Biology of Feeling Connected

By Christopher Bergland on September 28, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
A groundbreaking new study from Duke University has identified a link between oxytocin and feelings of spiritual connectedness.

The Glory of Doubt

By Hank Davis on September 27, 2016 in Caveman Logic
It takes courage and integrity to express Doubt. Faith is not always a virtue. In fact, it may be a central human failing and we should stop glorifying it.

The Prejudice That Infects Both the Alt-Right and Far Left

By Peter Glick Ph.D. on September 26, 2016 in The Enquiry
Why do anti-Semitic conspiracy theories persist and why does this prejudice infect opposite ends of the political spectrum?
Source: Akio Yamada, used with permission

The role of nonjudgment in mindfulness

By Joey Fung Ph.D. on September 24, 2016 in Mindful Being
Can we judge our thoughts without judging our selves?

Does It Take Faith to Be an Atheist?

By Phil Zuckerman Ph.D. on September 22, 2016 in The Secular Life
People often claim that it takes more faith to be an atheist than a believer. This is incorrect.

What Does It Take to Be Happy?

By David Ludden Ph.D. on September 21, 2016 in Talking Apes
For ages, philosophers have debated the meaning of happiness. Now, the science of happiness tells us how to achieve it.

Pagan Perfection

By Matthew J Rossano Ph.D. on September 16, 2016 in Seeking Perfection
When humans thrive, the effort of daily life increasingly approaches a joyful ease.


By Graham Collier on September 15, 2016 in The Consciousness Question
Such is the journey of human consciousness.

God Is Watching You

By Mark van Vugt Ph.D. on September 15, 2016 in Naturally Selected
Is God our Big Brother who watches over us to make sure we do not do anything bad or foolish?

Calm-onomics: The Everyday Economics of Stress Prevention

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on September 06, 2016 in Ambigamy
Life is an inherently anxious affair. This creates high demand for ways to keep anxiety at bay. Here's a behavioral-economic analysis of demand for and supply of ways to stay calm.

Did Religion Evolve to Benefit the Weak or the Powerful?

Who benefits most from religion? You may think you know, but these three observations will make you reconsider.

Ironic Faith: A Healthy Coping Strategy

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on September 02, 2016 in Ambigamy
An eye-opening trip to Indonesia teaches radical co-existence through ironic, stress-reducing faith.

How is the Creative Process an Act of Faith?

By Kimerer LaMothe Ph.D. on August 31, 2016 in What a Body Knows
Sometimes, in the process of making art, an obstacle is the path, and creativity is an act of faith.

Losing Our Faith

By Phil Zuckerman Ph.D. on August 29, 2016 in The Secular Life
The latest Pew survey shows why many Americans are leaving religion: they lost their faith in God