The conflict between science and religion lies in our brains, researchers say

Source: http://phys.org/news/2016-03-conflict-science-religion-lies-brains.html

The conflict between science and religion may have its origins in the structure of our brains, researchers at Case Western Reserve University and Babson College have found.

Clashes between the use of faith vs. to explain the world around us dates back centuries and is perhaps most visible today in the arguments between evolution and creationism.

To believe in a supernatural god or universal spirit, people appear to suppress the brain network used for and engage the empathetic network, the scientists say. When thinking analytically about the physical world, people appear to do the opposite.

“When there’s a question of faith, from the analytic point of view, it may seem absurd,” said Tony Jack, who led the research. “But, from what we understand about the brain, the leap of faith to belief in the supernatural amounts to pushing aside the critical/analytical way of thinking to help us achieve greater social and emotional insight.”

Jack is an associate professor of philosophy at Case Western Reserve and research director of the university’s Inamori International Center of Ethics and Excellence, which helped sponsor the research.

“A stream of research in cognitive psychology has shown and claims that people who have faith (i.e., are religious or spiritual) are not as smart as others. They actually might claim they are less intelligent.,” said Richard Boyatzis, distinguished university professor and professor of organizational behavior at Case Western Reserve, and a member of Jack’s team.

“Our studies confirmed that statistical relationship, but at the same time showed that people with faith are more prosocial and empathic,” he said.

In a series of eight experiments, the researchers found the more empathetic the person, the more likely he or she is religious.

That finding offers a new explanation for past research showing women tend to hold more religious or spiritual worldviews than men. The gap may be because women have a stronger tendency toward empathetic concern than men.

Atheists, the researchers found, are most closely aligned with psychopaths—not killers, but the vast majority of psychopaths classified as such due to their lack of empathy for others.

The new study is published in the online journal PLOS ONE. The other authors are Jared Friedman, a research assistant and recent graduate in Philosophy and Cognitive Science who will begin his PhD in organizational behavior at Case Western Reserve in the fall, and Scott Taylor, assistant professor of at Babson College.

Brain structure

The research is based on the hypothesis that the human brain has two opposing domains in constant tension. In earlier , Jack ‘s Brain, Mind & Consciousness lab used functional magnetic resonance imaging to show the brain has an analytical network of neurons that enables us to think critically and a social network that enables us to empathize. When presented with a physics problem or ethical dilemma, a healthy brain fires up the appropriate network while suppressing the other.

“Because of the tension between networks, pushing aside a naturalistic world view enables you to delve deeper into the social/emotional side,” Jack explained. “And that may be the key to why beliefs in the supernatural exist throughout the history of cultures. It appeals to an essentially nonmaterial way of understanding the world and our place in it.”

Friedman said, “Having empathy doesn’t mean you necessarily have anti-scientific beliefs. Instead, our results suggest that if we only emphasize analytic reasoning and scientific beliefs, as the New Atheist movement suggests, then we are compromising our ability to cultivate a different type of thinking, namely social/moral insight.”

“These findings,” Friedman continued, “are consistent with the philosophical view, espoused by (Immanuel) Kant, according to which there are two distinct types of truth: empirical and moral.”

Experiments and results

The researchers examined the relationship between belief in God or a universal spirit with measures of analytic thinking and moral concern in eight different experiments, each involving 159 to 527 adults. Consistently through all eight, the more religious the person, the more moral concern they showed. But no cause and effect was established.

They found that both spiritual belief and empathic concern were positively associated with frequency of prayer, meditations and other spiritual or religious practices, but neither were predicted by church dinners or other social contact associated with religious affiliation.

While others theorize that mentalizing—interpreting human behavior in terms of intentional mental states such as needs, desires or purposes—has a positive association with belief, the researchers found none.

Like other studies, these experiments showed that analytic thinking discourages acceptance of spiritual or religious beliefs. But the statistical analysis of data pooled from all eight experiments indicates empathy is more important to religious belief than analytic thinking is for disbelief.

So why can the conflict between science and religion become so strong?

“Because the networks suppress each other, they may create two extremes,” Boyatzis said. “Recognizing that this is how the brain operates, maybe we can create more reason and balance in the national conversations involving science and religion.”

Using both networks

The researchers say humans are built to engage and explore using both networks.

“Far from always conflicting with science, under the right circumstances religious belief may positively promote scientific creativity and insight,” Jack said. “Many of history’s most famous scientists were spiritual or religious. Those noted individuals were intellectually sophisticated enough to see that there is no need for religion and science to come into conflict.”

They refer to Baruch Aba Shalev’s book 100 years of Nobel Prizes, which found that, from 1901 to 2000, 654 Nobel laureates, or nearly 90 percent, belonged to one of 28 religions. The remaining 10.5 percent were atheists, agnostics or freethinkers.

“You can be religious and be a very good scientist,” Jack said.

The researchers agree with the New Atheists that suspension of analytical thinking—at the wrong time—can be dangerous, and point to the historical use of religious differences to persecute or fight wars.

“Although it is simply a distortion of history to pin all conflict on religion,” Jack said. “Non-religious political movements, such as fascism and communism, and quasi-scientific movements, such as eugenics, have also done great harm.”

The researchers suggest, however, that taking a carefully considered leap of religious faith appears be an effective route to promoting emotional insight. Theirs and other studies find that, overall, religious belief is associated with greater compassion, greater social inclusiveness and greater motivation to engage in pro-social actions.

Jack said the conflict can be avoided by remembering simple rules: “Religion has no place telling us about the physical structure of the world; that’s the business of science. Science should inform our ethical reasoning, but it cannot determine what is ethical or tell us how we should construct meaning and purpose in our lives.”

To dig deeper into belief, the researchers are planning studies to learn if individuals who increase their empathy then increase their religious or spiritual belief, or vice versa.

Dr. Asad Q. Ahmed and Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy on Islam and Science

My Notes

Dr. Hoodbhoy

Dr. Hoodbhoy speaks first lamenting the current state of science in the Islamic world. He blames the encroachment of scientific sphere by the religious extremists for hindering the progress of Muslims. He talks about the plethora of pseudo- scientific literature which boosts about recently discovered scientific facts being already alluded to in the earliest sacred texts of Islam and nonsensical claims of stationary earth, using Genie for energy and more.

According to Dr. Hoodbhoy’s account, Ehteram ul Haq Thanvi, a pakistan religious scholar and son of Ehtisham ul Haq Thanvi said to Dr. Hoodbhoy in a conversation that Muslims are behind in science because they don’t read Quran with understanding and western scientists secretly do so to make advancement in science.

Sir Syed Ahmed from subcontinent come up with an approach to keep science and religion separate and allow each to play its due role in society. He realized that if one believes in science and causality, there is no room for miracles and they have to be explained away as allegorical. Sir Syed was severely criticized for all this.

Ghazali is the prime target of Dr. Hoodbhoy’s criticism as the seminal figure who turned things around for worse at a time when Islamic Civilization was at its peak. His attack on rationality, denial of causality and inclination to mystical explanation of natural phenomenon derailed the course of scientific progress of his civilization or so believes Dr. Hoodbhoy.

Dr. Asad Q. Ahmed

Agreeing with the Hoodbhoy about the present abysmal state of science in Muslims countries, Dr. Asad disagrees with everything else he said.

The pseudo-scientific literature is not unique to Islam, it is a global phenomena.

Ghazali was not against rationality, rather his tahafut points out that those who deduce metaphysical truths from logic are not rational enough. Philosophers disagree among themselves in matters of metaphysics because their proofs are not rigorous, as they are when it concerns facts which are susceptible to demonstration. On the other hand, demonstrable phenomena like solar eclipse falls within the realm of science and it would be unwise for religious scholars to argue with philosophers and scientists on these matters.

It was the work of Muslim astronomers after Ghazali who came up with various models of solar system which directly led to the heleo-centric Copernican system.

New Atheist Critiques of Religion (Discussion on The Partially Examined Life)

http://www.partiallyexaminedlife.com/2011/10/11/episode-44-new-atheist-critiques-of-religion/

Discussing selections from Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel C. Dennett.

Should we be religious, or is religion just a bunch of superstitious nonsense that it’s past time for us to outgrow? Does faith lead to ceding to authority and potential violence? Can a reasonable person be religious? We say lots of rude things about these authors, and at times about their targets in this listener-requested episode featuring Mark, Wes, Seth, and Dylan. Read more about the topic.

Buy/read what we did:
-Ch. 1-2 of Harris’s The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason(2004)
-The last three chapters of Hitchens’s God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything(2007)
-Ch. 4, and some of ch. 2, from Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion(2006)
-Ch. 8 (and skimming 3 and 7 to get context) of Dan Dennett’s Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon(2006)
-Chapter 14 of Anthony Kenny’s 2008 book From Empedocles to Wittgenstein: Historical Essays in Philosophy(which we read as a response to Dawkins).

To Explain the World: A Conversation with Steven Weinberg

World Science Festival: In this program, Nobel Prize-winning physicist and revered public intellectual Steven Weinberg speaks about science and history, drawing from his book “To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science.” Beginning with a short account on where science and intellectual thought rank in modern society compared to other modes of thought, Professor Weinberg goes on to paint a new and compelling picture of the development of scientific thought and exploration in a conversation moderated by Peabody Award-winning journalist John Hockenberry.

This program was presented in collaboration with the New-York Historical Society.

Something from Nothing, A conversation with Richard Dawkins & Lawrence Krauss

Krauss discusses the theme of his new book how universe might have come into existence from nothing. Science tells us that vacuum, once thought to be absolutely empty, is teaming with energy. This newly discovered fact could give us the clue why we have something rather than nothing.

Krauss claims that evolution also in a sense created life out of nothing. Where Dawkins sort of disagrees with him as evolution does require the existence of matter in order to get started.

The Great Debate – Can Science Tell Us Right From Wrong?

Source: http://thesciencenetwork.org/programs/the-great-debate

71_250x358

The Great Debate – Can Science Tell Us Right From Wrong?

On November 6th, 2010 a panel of renowned scientists, philosophers, and public intellectuals gathered to discuss what impact evolutionary theory and advances in neuroscience might have on traditional concepts of morality. If human morality is an evolutionary adaptation and if neuroscientists can identify specific brain circuitry governing moral judgment, can scientists determine what is, in fact, right and wrong? The panelists were psychologist Steven Pinker, author Sam Harris, philosopher Patricia Churchland, physicist Lawrence Krauss, philosopher Simon Blackburn, bioethicist Peter Singer and The Science Network’s Roger Bingham.
Recorded live at the Arizona State University Gammage auditorium.
“The Great Debate” was sponsored by the ASU Origins Project in collaboration with the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Center for Law, Science and Innovation; the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge; and The Science Network.

 

The Great Debate Panel

The Great Debate Panel

Speakers: Steven Pinker, Sam Harris, Patricia Churchland, Lawrence Krauss, Simon Blackburn, Peter Singer and Roger Bingham

Run Time: 42 minutes

A lively panel discussion between Sam Harris, Patricia Smith Churchland, Peter Singer, Lawrence Krauss, Simon Blackburn, Steven Pinker, and Roger Bingham. If human morality is an evolutionary adaptation and if neuroscientists can identify specific brain circuitry governing moral judgment, can scientists determine what is, in fact, right and wrong?

 

Sam Harris with an introduction by Roger Bingham

Sam Harris with an introduction by Roger Bingham
Run Time: 19 minutes

Speaker: Sam Harris is the author of the New York Times bestsellers “The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values,” “The End of Faith” and “Letter to a Christian Nation.” “The End of Faith” won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction. Harris has a doctorate in neuroscience from UCLA and a degree in philosophy from Stanford University. He is a co-founder and CEO of Project Reason, a nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society.

Talk: Sam Harries claims that there is no gap between facts and values. Once evolution gave us beings with experience which can vary within the limits of biology,the upshot was morality. Moral Good could simply be defined as the well-being of conscious beings (humans and animals).

 

Patricia Smith Churchland

Patricia Smith Churchland
Run Time: 14 minutes

Speaker: Patricia Smith Churchland is a Professor Emerita of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego. She is also an adjunct faculty member at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Her research focuses on the interface between neuroscience and philosophy. Her books include “Brain-Wise: Studies in Neurophilosophy,” ”Neurophilosophy: Toward a Unified Science of the Mind-Brain” and “On the Contrary: Critical Essays 1987-1997,” with husband Paul M. Churchland. Her newest book, “Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality,” is due out in spring 2011.

Talk: There is one end of the spectrum where it is easy to make value judgments based on facts, but there are scenarios where it is much more difficult. Having more facts might help but in some cases it is just a difference in value rather than facts. For instance, interventionist approach to do good which might actually make the situation worse, academic arrogance might lead to silliness etc..

 

Peter Singer

Peter Singer

Run Time: 14 minutes

Speaker: Peter Singer is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. He is also a Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. Singer first became well-known internationally after the publication of “Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals.” His latest books include “The Life You Can Save: How to Do Your Part to End World Poverty” and “The Life You Can Save: Acting now to end world poverty.” Singer was the founding president of the International Association of Bioethics, and with Helga Kuhse, founding co-editor of the journal Bioethics. Outside academic life, he is the co-founder and president of The Great Ape Project, an international effort to obtain basic rights for chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans. He is also president of Animal Rights International.

Talk: Peter makes the case the science can’t tell us right from wrong, though it does provide us with information which helps in making moral decisions. If Darwin is right, than it is a proof that might is right, one said. But we as humans don’t want to stick to the moral inclinations which are a result of evolution, rather we want to transcend them. Moreover, science cannot give us moral premises.

 

Lawrence Krauss

Lawrence Krauss

Run Time: 14 minutes

Speaker: Lawrence Krauss is a Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Department of Physics in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He also is director of the ASU Origins Project. He is the only physicist to have received the highest awards from all three major U.S. professional physics societies. His popular publications include “The Physics of Star Trek,” “Quintessence,” “Atom,” “Hiding in the Mirror,” and due out in 2011, “Quantum Man: Richard Feynman’s Life in Science” and “A Universe from Nothing.”

Talk: It is not possible to tell right from wrong without science, because it provides the crucial information required to make these decisions and it is the only method to explore the actual world. We can ask actual questions like does putting a woman in bag makes her more happy and get answers.

 

Simon Blackburn

Simon Blackburn

Run Time: 12 minutes

Speaker: Simon Blackburn is the Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Trinity College. He is also a visiting distinguished research professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Blackburn has written extensively on the philosophy of mind, language and psychology. Among his latest works are “Practical Tortoise Raising and Other Philosophical Essays,” “The Big Questions: Philosophy” and “How to Read Hume.”

Talk: Science can inform us in making moral judgments but it cannot answer our moral questions. It can’t tell us whether Buddha is right in giving up all desires. It can’t tell whether to take our kids to holiday or denote to save lives in Africa.

 

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

Run Time: 12 minutes

Speaker: Steven Pinker is Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard. His research is on visual cognition and the psychology of language. Among his books are “The Language Instinct,” “How the Mind Works” and “The Blank Slate.” He has been named Humanist of the Year, and is listed in Foreign Policy and Prospect magazine’s “The World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals” and in Time magazine’s “The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today.” His latest book is “The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature.”

Talk: Religion cannot tell us right from wrong. Dogma, scripture, authority or subjective certainty are pathetic reasons to believe in something to be good. Such dogma has caused a lot of suffering like human sacrifice prevalent in religious societies, witch hunt, harsh punishments for petty crimes etc.. Reasoning tells us what’s right and wrong, which is not part of science as the term is generally understood, but could be included in science if we take a broad definition.

Last four hundred years of history shows us that there is definite in progress morality due to the raise of science.

‘Science, Faith and Religion’ dialogue at World Science Festival 2009

Source: http://www.worldsciencefestival.com/programs/science_faith_religion/

Date: Saturday, June 13, 2009
Time: 03:00 PM-04:00 PM
Venue: Tishman Auditorium at The New School
Moderator: Bill Blakemore
Participants: Colin McGinn, Kenneth Miller, Lawrence M. Krauss, Guy Consolmagno

Public debate, pitting atheist against believer, typically yields a polarized picture. Might a more nuanced conversation that transcends simplistic assertions, and weaves insights from physics, biology, and psychology provide a more fruitful exchange of ideas? Bill Blakemore hosts scientists Lawrence Krauss, Ken Miller and Guy Consolmagno, and philosopher Colin McGinn to find out.

 

Moderator

bill_blakemore

ABC News Correspondent

Bill Blakemore became a reporter for ABC News 44 years ago, covering a wide variety of stories. He spearheaded ABC’s coverage of global warming, traveling from the tropics to polar regions to report on its impacts, dangers and possible remedies. Overseas, he has covered a dozen wars or major conflicts including the Black September, Bangladesh, 1973 Arab-Israeli, Iranian and Beirut Civil Wars, as well as the Iraq wars (from Baghdad), and the Afghan/Taliban war. On 9/11, he reached Ground Zero before the towers fell. He was ABC’s Rome bureau chief 1978-1984, traveled extensively with John Paul II and wrote several documentaries and the Encyclopaedia Britannica article about him. Since 1984, he’s been based in New York, where he also served as education correspondent. He began focusing on biodiversity, extinctions and global warming in 2004, as well as the emerging sciences of play behavior and animal intelligence, and hosted ABC’s Nature’s Edge until 2012. He has won most major broadcast journalism awards. He currently writes and lectures on the journalistic profession, the “Many Psychologies of Global Warming,” and the cinematic art of Stanley Kubrick.

Participants

colin_mcginn

Philosopher

Colin McGinn is a professor and Cooper Fellow at University of Miami. In 2006, he joined the UM philosophy department, having taught previously at University of London, University of Oxford, and Rutgers University. He was the recipient of the John Locke Prize at Oxford University in 1973. His research interests are in philosophy of mind, philosophy of body, philosophy of language, philosophical logic, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of physics, philosophy of film and literature, ethics, metaphilosophy, philosophy of sport, and Wittgenstein. He has published many articles, and is the author of 20 books, including: Mental Content; The Problem of Consciousness; The Character of Mind; Ethics, Evil and Fiction; The Mysterious Flame; Logical Properties; Consciousness and Its Objects; Mindsight: Image, Dream, Meaning; and Shakespeare’s Philosophy.

kenneth_miller

Cell Biologist

Kenneth R. Miller is Professor of Biology and Royce Family Professor for Teaching Excellence at Brown University. A cell biologist, he serves as an advisor on life sciences to the NewsHour, a daily PBS television program on news and public affairs, and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Miller is coauthor, with Joseph S. Levine, of high school and college biology textbooks used by millions of students nationwide. In 2005 he served as lead witness in the trial on evolution and intelligent design in Dover, Pennsylvania. His popular book, Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground between God and Evolution, addresses the scientific status of evolutionary theory and its relationship to religious views of nature. His latest book, Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul addresses the continuing struggle over how evolution is to be understood in American society. His honors include the Presidential Citation of the American Institute of Biological Science (2005), the Public Service Award of the American Society for Cell Biology, the Distinguished Service Award of the National Association of Biology teachers (2008), and most recently, the AAAS Public Understanding of Science and Technology Award (2008).

lawrence_krauss

Theoretical Physicist, Cosmologist, and Author

Internationally known theoretical physicist and best-selling author Lawrence Krauss has focused his research on the intersection of cosmology and elementary particle physics. Krauss’s work addresses questions about the origin of matter in the universe, Einstein’s theory of general relativity, astrophysics, the future of the universe and the properties and description of the dark energy that is thought to account for most of the universe’s present energy content.

A fervent advocate for science literacy, Krauss has written nine books for a general audience, including the bestseller The Physics of Star Trek, and most recently A Universe from Nothing, which appeared in January of 2012. He was recently awarded the National Science Board’s 2012 Public Service Award for his contributions to public understanding of science. Krauss is Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Director of the ASU Origins Project at Arizona State University.

guy_consolmagno

Astronomer

Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ, earned undergraduate and masters’ degrees from MIT, and a Ph. D. in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona. He was a researcher at Harvard and MIT, served in the US Peace Corps (Kenya), and taught university physics at Lafayette College, Pennsylvania, before entering the Jesuits in 1989.

At the Vatican Observatory since 1993, his research explores connections between meteorites, asteroids, and the evolution of small solar system bodies. He observes asteroids, moons, and Kuiper Belt comets with the Vatican’s 1.8 meter telescope in Arizona, and curates the Vatican meteorite collection in Castel Gandolfo. Along with more than 100 scientific publications, he is the author of a number of popular books including Turn Left at Orion (with Dan Davis), Brother Astronomer, and God’s Mechanics, and editor of a popular account of astronomy and the Vatican, Let Stars Delight.

Dr. Consolmagno served as chair of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society; is past president of Commission 16 (Planets and Satellites) of the International Astronomical Union, and presently serves as secretary of its Division III (Planetary Systems Sciences) as well as sitting on the IAU Working Group on Planetary System Nomenclature.

Faith and Science 2008 – Dialogue at World Science Festival

Source: http://www.worldsciencefestival.com/programs/faith_and_science_2008/

Date: Saturday, May 31, 2008
Time: 03:30 PM-05:00 PM
Venue: NYU Kimmel Center, Eisner & Lubin Auditorium
Participants: Bill Blakemore, Lorenzo Albacete, Nina Azari, Paul Bloom, William Phillips

Prominent clashes — both historical and contemporary — have led to the widely held conclusion that science and religion are fundamentally incompatible. Yet, many scientists practice a traditional faith, having found a way to accommodate both scientific inquiry and religious teaching in their belief system. Other scientists are bringing science to bear on the phenomenon of religion and spiritual belief — neuroscientists are studying what happens in the brain during religious experiences, while anthropologists are investigating how religion is linked to cooperation and community. This program provided an intimate look at what scientists have to say about their religious beliefs and what might be revealed by scientific studies of spirituality.

This program is part of The Big Idea Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.

Participants

bill_blakemore

ABC News Correspondent

Bill Blakemore became a reporter for ABC News 44 years ago, covering a wide variety of stories. He spearheaded ABC’s coverage of global warming, traveling from the tropics to polar regions to report on its impacts, dangers and possible remedies. Overseas, he has covered a dozen wars or major conflicts including the Black September, Bangladesh, 1973 Arab-Israeli, Iranian and Beirut Civil Wars, as well as the Iraq wars (from Baghdad), and the Afghan/Taliban war. On 9/11, he reached Ground Zero before the towers fell. He was ABC’s Rome bureau chief 1978-1984, traveled extensively with John Paul II and wrote several documentaries and the Encyclopaedia Britannica article about him. Since 1984, he’s been based in New York, where he also served as education correspondent. He began focusing on biodiversity, extinctions and global warming in 2004, as well as the emerging sciences of play behavior and animal intelligence, and hosted ABC’s Nature’s Edge until 2012. He has won most major broadcast journalism awards. He currently writes and lectures on the journalistic profession, the “Many Psychologies of Global Warming,” and the cinematic art of Stanley Kubrick.

lorenzo_albacete

Roman-Catholic Priest

Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete is a Roman Catholic priest, theologian, physicist and author. A frequent contributor to The New York Times, he is one of the leaders in the United States for the international Catholic movement Communion and Liberation and is on the Board of Advisors of the Crossroads Cultural Center.

nina_azari

Psychologist

Nina Azari specializes in cognitive neuroscience and the psychology of religion. She uses traditional psychological methods as well as cutting-edge medical imaging technology to explore religious experiences, consciousness, belief and perception in her subjects. Azari is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

paul_bloom

Psychologist

Paul Bloom’s research explores how children and adults understand the physical and social world, with special focus on morality, religion, fiction, and art. A professor of psychology at Yale University, Bloom has written for scientific journals such as Nature and Science, but also for publications with more general circulation, such as The New York Times, the Guardian, and the Atlantic. He is the author or editor of four books, including How Children Learn the Meanings of Words, Descartes’ Baby, and, most recently, How Pleasure Works. He is currently writing a book about the developmental origins of good and evil.

william_phillips

Physicist and Nobel Laureate in in Physics

Nobel Prize-winning physicist William Phillips is a professor at the University of Maryland and leads the Laser Cooling and Trapping Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. His research on manipulating atoms with laser light has led to more accurate atomic clocks and a more fundamental understanding of light-matter interactions.