Fundamental Identity

IBCSR is a non-partisan research institute focused on the scientific study of religion, combining:

  • the sciences of brains and bodies (e.g. neuroscience, cognitive psychology, evolutionary biology, medicine),
  • the sciences of culture (e.g. sociology, anthropology, political economy, history), and
  • the computational sciences (e.g. modeling and simulation, semantic network analysis, machine learning, analysis of massive datasets).


IBCSR's mission is three-fold.

  • Research: IBCSR aims to conduct leading-edge research into the biological and cultural foundations and functions of religion.
  • Training: IBCSR aims to train researchers in the bio-cultural study of religion at the very highest level.
  • Outreach: IBCSR aims to reach out to researchers, scholars, and the general public to build professional networks, to share information about the bio-cultural study of religion, to guide effective public policy and medical care, and to deepen the public understanding of religion and spirituality.

Core Values

IBCSR's core values include the following:

  • upholding the highest intellectual standards in all phases of our work;
  • acting ethically toward our business partners and funding sources;
  • maintaining neutrality regarding the ideological promotion or critique of religious traditions, faith communities, and political outlooks;
  • remaining institutionally agile and creative; and
  • maximizing efficiency and productivity by optimizing infrastructure and overhead.


The Institute for the Biocultural Study of Religion was founded by neuroscientist Patrick McNamara and philosopher of religion Wesley J. Wildman. The Institute is a nonprofit corporation under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as of 2007, though its work predates its incorporation (see Past Projects). As of August 20, 2007, it is a public charity with United States federal tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to the Institute are tax deductible.