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Mountain Top Lecture Series discusses cognitive science of religion April 6-7

Mountain Top Lecture Series discusses cognitive science of religion April 6-7
Dr. Justin L. Barrett will present three lectures on the cognitive science of religion as part of the Mountain Top Lecture Series April 6-7 at the Hoag Auditorium on the UNG Dahlonega Campus.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) and Mountain Top Lectures are co-hosting a series of three lectures featuring Dr. Justin L. Barrett on April 6-7 at the Hoag Student Center Auditorium on UNG’s Dahlonega Campus.

Barrett joined the School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, in 2011 as Thrive Professor of Developmental Science and served as director of the Thrive Center for Human Development from 2011 to 2014. He is the chief project developer for the Office for Science, Theology and Religion Initiatives and acting dean of the School of Psychology.

An experimental psychologist, Barrett taught for five years in Oxford University’s School of Anthropology. While at Oxford, Barrett helped establish and became the director of the Centre for Anthropology and Mind, and the Institute for Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology.

The series begins with a reception in the Great Room at the Hoag Student Center from 5:30-6:45 p.m. Friday, April 6, with the first lecture at 7 p.m. in Hoag Auditorium.

During the first lecture, "Naturally Explaining the Supernatural: What is Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR)?" Barrett explains what CSR is and reviews CSR's "naturalness thesis": that by virtue of the way human minds ordinarily develop, humans are naturally receptive to religious thought. This area of science suggests many forms of religious thought may be conceptual "paths of least resistance" for humans.

At 9 a.m. Saturday, April 7, Barrett will present his second lecture: "Do Explanations of Religion Explain It Away? Philosophical Implications of Cognitive Science of Religion." Barrett posits that CSR is making progress in explaining why people hold certain types of religious beliefs. Barrett presents and discusses several arguments against religious belief from findings and theories in CSR.

Barrett's third lecture, "How Cognitive Science of Religion Presents New Resources for Christian Theology," begins at 11 a.m. Barrett believes Christian theology has long operated without reference to scientific findings. Theological treatments of the nature of human beings and divine revelation may be informed by scientific insights, and Barrett forwards this thesis through examples drawn from CSR and evolutionary psychology.

"Scientists and science educators need to recognize that religion is not going away. It seems to be a fundamental, intrinsic part of our very humanity," Barrett said. "We need to understand how it's going to continue to shape the way people behave, their identification, their communities, and how it's going to form a valuable part of our society going forward."

Mountain Top Lectures is an organization that has presented lectures on theology, spirituality and science to the north Georgia community since 2010. In that time, Mountain Top Lectures has hosted some of the most prominent authors and speakers on religion such as Dr. Amy Jill Levine, Dr. Marcus Borg, Dr. Robin Meyers, Dr. Bart Ehrman, Dr. Brian McLaren, Bishop John Shelby Spong, and Rabbi Rami Shapiro. 

Mountain Top Lectures are free for UNG students, faculty and staff, and $60 for the general public. For more information about the event and to register, visit the website.

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