Psychologising and Neurologising about Religion: Facts, Fallacies and the Future - Professor Malcolm Jeeves - Gresham College Lectures

The original Boyle Lectures took place annually between 1692 and 1732. Funded by a bequest in the Will of the Hon Robert Boyle, the lectures featured distinguished preachers who were asked to consider the relationship between the new natural philosophy and the Christian religion. Revived in 2004, the new Boyle Lectures address the same challenges today. What psychologists were doing for religion at the beginning of the 20th century, neuroscientists are doing at the beginning of the 21st century. Then, as now, reactions were varied. Some were alarmed and felt that the very foundations of religion were being undermined, some saw the possibility of new insights into religion, some had no doubt that religion could now be explained away as ""nothing but"" a set of psychological crutches. Similar reactions are evident today as the neural substrates of different aspects of religious practices and experience are investigated. In both instances, had we learned the lessons from the past, more balanced and constructive evaluations would have emerged. I shall review some of the scientific evidence for new insights into religion from specialisations in psychology such as evolutionary psychology where rapid advances are being made, and I shall also review the increasing evidence for what may be called the neuroscience of religion. I shall offer both assessments and anticipations. Lecturer: Professor Malcolm Jeeves, CBE, FRSE Malcolm Jeeves is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of St Andrews, and was formerly President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland's national Academy of science and letters. He was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1992 for his services to science and to psychology in Britain. He established the department of psychology at St Andrews University, and his research interests centre around cognitive psychology and neuropsychology. Responder: The Revd Dr Fraser Watts Fraser Watts was ordained in 1990 and is now Vicar-Chaplain of St Edward, King and Martyr, in Cambridge. In 1994 he became the Starbridge Lecturer in Theology and the Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge and is now Reader in Theology and Science and Fellow and Director of Studies at Queens¹ College. He has been Director of the Psychology and Christianity Project in the Centre for Advanced Religious and Theological Studies since its foundation in 1996. He was the founding editor of the journal Cognition and Emotion, and has served as the President of the British Psychological Society. All our lectures are available for free download from the Gresham College website, in video, audio or text formats: Gresham College professors and guest speakers have been giving free public lectures in central London since 1597. This tradition continues today and you can attend any of our lectures, or watch or listen to them on our website. Website: Twitter: Facebook:

More episodes of Gresham College

Featured episodes in Learning

Gresham College

Gresham College exists for the sole purpose of disseminating knowledge to the public through free lectures. This four century old tradition continues today with three or more lectures a week being made available for free download from our website: