Guest Post: A Hominin By Any Other Name (Would Be Just As Wise)

man-in-the-mountain-1396693-1280x960 Kristin Smith freeimages
by Kristin Smith, freeimages

If you were asked to define the entire human species with one word, what would it be? Think about it. Tricky, isn’t it? When Linnaeus formalised the scientific method of naming species in the 18th-century, he settled on ‘wise’ as our defining characteristic. He called us Homo sapiens, literally meaning ‘wise man’. Was he right to do so? Is that what God created us to be? Continue reading

What does social science bring to the science and religion discussion? A conversation with Faraday Institute researcher, Caroline Tee

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Books by Jules Hawk. Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

How can we understand some of the social and cultural factors that influence our attitudes to science and religion? This is one of the questions that social anthropologist Caroline Tee is asking as she begins to study the ways in which Christian and Muslim scientists interpret their scriptures. In this month’s podcast (transcript below) Ruth Bancewicz met up with Caroline at the Faraday Institute, to catch up with the latest on her research and find out what motivates her in her research. Continue reading

Cara Wall Scheffler: What anthropology can tell us about the origins of religious behaviour

Before I report back on Mark Harris’s second Faraday course lecture, which was on the Bible and human origins*, I want to think about the science behind this subject. At the same course, the biological anthropologist Cara Wall-Scheffler spoke on Anthropology and the Origins of Religion. I’ll reflect on Continue reading

Religion and Mental Health

Jesper Noer, http://www.sxc.hu/
© Jesper Noer, http://www.sxc.hu/

How do mental heath professionals understand their patients’ religious beliefs? This was the question that Professor Simon Dein asked at a seminar at the Faraday Institute this week. Dein is a consultant psychiatrist, lecturer in anthropology and medicine, and founding editor of the journal Mental Health, Religion and Culture.

Dein comes from a Jewish background. He is comfortable talking about religion, and interested in its effects on mental health. He has worked for many years with patients from a variety of faith backgrounds (Jewish, Christian, Muslim and others), and has found that a clinical method that recognises a patient’s beliefs is far more effective than a secular approach.

As a clinician, Dein didn’t make any comment on whether he thought any of his patients’ beliefs were true or not. He was honest about the fact that he doesn’t believe in God Continue reading