IBCSR Awarded Major Grant from John Templeton Foundation

Network SimulationThe Institute for the Bio-Cultural Study of Religion (IBCSR) has been awarded a $2 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation (templeton.org) for a three-year project in computer modeling and simulation for the scientific understanding of religion. Dr. Wesley J. Wildman, a leading expert on using agent-based and system-dynamics models to investigate religion, is the principle investigator (PI) for the project, which will expand on the Institute's already-running Simulating Religion Project and its publications. The Templeton Foundation’s support of the Modeling Religion Project will further that research, using a variety of types of models and complex virtual minds to investigate the role religion may have played in transformational shifts in civilizational form, such as the move from hunting and gathering to settled agriculture, the shift from early civilizations to the Axial Age, and the transition to modernity. The project will also create a platform for modeling and simulation accessible to non-programmers, and will invest resources in explaining the value of simulation and modeling for a wider audience through outreach efforts and a documentary film.

IBCSR and RBB mentioned at This View of Life

The Institute for the Bio-Cultural Study of Religion and the journal Religion, Brian & Behavior have both received attention over at evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson's online magazine This View of Life. Reporting on the recent November 2013 meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion in Boston, anthropologists Ben Purzycki and John Shaver give their take on recent developments in the evolutionary and biological study of religion – including research published in RBB and conducted under the aegis of IBCSR. Check out the blog post here.

IBCSR Awarded Major Research Grant

The Institute for the Bio-Cultural Study of Religion (IBCSR) has been awarded a $1.7 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation (www.templeton.org ) to investigate the neurological basis of religious cognition. The principle investigators, Dr. Patrick McNamara and Dr. Wesley Wildman, have extensive experience researching the neuroscience of religious experience. This new project will further that research and help launch to the new scientific field of the cognitive neuroscience of religion.

In partnership with the Boston VA Medical Center, the project will assess various forms of religious cognition in an array of healthy and clinical populations in order to identify the brain regions most consistently involved in religious ideas, prayers, mediations and reflections. These new insights will also help clinical populations use their personal religious resources to cope with their illness.

Drs. McNamara and Wildman have compiled a team of international scholars, neuroscientists, and religion scholars to assist in the project. These  researchers are being trained in the latest scientific methods for studying religious ideas and practices.

More information about their findings will be forthcoming as the research progresses. 



To learn more about this project, please contact:


Dr. Patrick McNamara, Principle Investigator

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Office: (857)-364-4405


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