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Dr. Justin L Barrett

  • 06 Apr 2018
  • 5:30 PM
  • 07 Apr 2018
  • 1:00 PM
  • Hoag Auditorium Dahlonega, GA


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Dr. Justin L Barrett

Justin L. Barrett joined the School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary 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 currently the chief project developer for the Office for Science, Theology, and Religion Initiatives (STAR) and, as of January 2018, also serves as acting dean of the School of Psychology. An experimental psychologist, Dr. Barrett taught for five years in Oxford University’s School of Anthropology, and is best known for his research on religion.

While at Oxford, Professor Barrett helped establish and became the director of the Centre for Anthropology and Mind, and the Institute for Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology. Early in his academic career, Professor Barrett served as an assistant professor of psychology at Calvin College and was a research investigator and visiting professor at the Institute of Social Research and the Culture and Cognition Program at the University of Michigan.

Lecture 1: Naturally Explaining the Supernatural: What is Cognitive Science of Religion?

One of the most important new trends in the scholarly study of religious thought and action is the cognitive science of religion (CSR). In this lecture, Dr. 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 that many forms of religious thought may be conceptual “paths of least resistance” for humans.

Lecture 2: Do Explanations of Religion Explain 
It Away? Philosophical Implications of Cognitive Science of Religion 

The cognitive science of religion (CSR) appears to be making progress in explaining why it is that people hold certain types of religious beliefs. If these explanations prove to be successful, and explicit mention of supernatural realities are not part of the explanations, do these explanations undermine justification for religious beliefs and commitments? Dr. Barrett presents and discusses several arguments against religious belief from findings and theories in CSR. 

Lecture 3: How Cognitive Science of Religion Presents New Resources for Christian Theology 

Christian theology has long operated without reference to scientific findings, but the times are changing. Theological treatments of, for instance, the nature of human beings and divine revelation may be helpfully informed by scientific insights. In this lecture, Dr. Barrett argues for this thesis through examples drawn from cognitive science of religion and evolutionary psychology. For instance, it appears that science agrees that humans have something like a natural “sense of the divine” but perhaps differs importantly from Jean Calvin’s view of the sensus divinitatis

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