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


IBCSR mentioned across the Web

The scientific study of religion may be a young field, but IBCSR is already garnering attention in a wide variety of venues. Just for starters, university psychology and religious studies departments across the country have linked to ScienceOnReligion.org on their websites as a resource for students and faculty. Binghamton University's innovation program in Evolutionary Religious Studies, for example, mentions both the Institute for the Biocultural Study of Religion and the new journal Religion, Brain, & Behavior, which is associated with the Institute, on its website.

IBCSR and the research it disseminates have also been featured in other types of venues. Here are a few examples:

Evolution of Religion, a multidisciplinary collaborative effort to investigate the evolutionary history of religious phenomena.

The Bravewell Collaborative, an organization that researches and advocates for integrative medicine in the United States.

The Boston Globe, metropolitan Boston's leading daily newspaper.

SciLogs, a collection of science blogs by accomplished science writers and researchers.

• The internet staple Wikipedia, which cites IBCSR in a number of articles.

IBCSR Facebook page now operational

March 19, 2012

The Institute for the Biocultural Study of Religion's public outreach effort has expanded to include a Facebook page, "Science On Religion." Please visit us here to "like" our work and follow the latest news in science, religion, and culture.

Inaugural Edition of IBCSR Research Review Released

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Institute for the Biocultural Study of Religion (IBCSR) announces the publication of the inaugural issue of IBCSR Research Review (IRR). IRR briefly annotates and furnishes online information about scientific research articles related to brain, behavior, culture, and religion published in leading journals. It also lists relevant books and articles in press. IRR will be useful to researchers, teachers, students, and journalists whose work relates to the scientific study of religion. It is delivered via email to those who sign up to receive it on IBCSR's website.

The Institute for the Biocultural Study of Religion was founded by Patrick McNamara and Wesley Wildman to conduct research into the biological and cultural functions of religion. To find out more about the Institute, visit www.ibcsr.org. The site functions as a clearinghouse for recent research into and information about religion as a biological and cultural phenomenon. It also houses the web’s richest set of links to organizations and research projects related to the scientific study of religion.

IBCSR is a nonprofit corporation under the laws of the State of Massachusetts, and a public charity with United States federal tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.