Research seminar on Cognitive Science of Religion (Helsinki, March 3-4)

Trends and Challenges in the Cognitive Science of Religion
University of Helsinki, March 3-4, 2015

Venue: (note: room has changedFaculty Room Room 531, Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki (Vuorikatu 3, 5th floor)

Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR) emerged in the 1990s to explain regularities of religious phenomena across time and place by using the growing body of knowledge from cognitive and evolutionary sciences. Today it is a pluralistic and interdisciplinary field that focuses on the intuitive mental mechanisms underpinning religious beliefs and behaviours as well as on the interaction of the human mind, social cognition, and cultural environment. CSR applies a wide variety of different theoretical perspectives, for example, from experimental psychology, neurosciences, biology and research on emotions. 

The seminar “Trends and Challenges in the Cognitive Science of Religion” provides a unique opportunity to hear what is going on in the field — and engage in discussion! Responses to papers will be given by scholars from different fields (philosophy of science, biblical studies, comparative religion and the science of religion).

The meeting is organized by the Academy of Finland research project Ritual and the Emergence of Early Christian Religion: A Socio-Cognitive Analysis (REECR), led by Dr. Risto Uro, and the Centre of Excellence in Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions (CSTT), led by Prof. Martti Nissinen, at the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Theology.

Keynote speakers are Prof. Armin W. Geertz (University of Aarhus) and PD Dr. habil. István Czachesz (University of Heidelberg).

Registration for the seminar and workshop is required. Please follow this link to register (deadline: February 23, 2015). Registrants will be sent the abstracts beforehand and coffee and reception are free. Lunch is at one’s own expense.

Tuesday 3 March 2015 (seminar)

9:00–9:45 Armin W. Geertz (University of Aarhus)
10:00–10:45 István Czachesz (University of Heidelberg)
10:45–11:15 Coffee
11:15–13:00 Responses by Aku Visala, Martti Nissinen, Ilkka Pyysiäinen (all University of Helsinki), followed by discussion
13:00–14:30 Lunch
14:30–15:30 Elisa Järnefelt (Coventry University, UK)
Experimental humanities – absurdity or possibility?
15:30–16:00 Coffee
16:00–17:00 Outi Pohjanheimo (University of Helsinki)
Two routes of enrichment of magical thinking
17:00–18:00 Jani Närhi (University of Helsinki)
Afterlife representations and cognition – what can and cannot be inferred from historical data
18:00–20:00 Reception

Wednesday 4 March (REECR and CSTT joint workshop)

10:00–12:00 CSTT, Team 4 “Society and Religion in Late Second Temple Judaism” (Jeremy Penner, University of Helsinki; Jutta Jokiranta, University of Helsinki)
12:00–14:00 Lunch
14:00–16:00 REECR (Rikard Roitto, Stockholm School of Theology)


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