The Economist: Where angels no longer fear to tread

In the Economist, an article explores how scientists are trying to explain religion. In a project titled “explaining religion” that involves scholars from 14 universities, researchers from many different disciplines are attempting to unravel the biological explanation for religion. The project receives funding from the “New and Emerging Science and Technology” programme of the European Union. The same programme also organizes the Tackling complexity in Science project and I noticed the absence of any ID relevant proposals.

Well, back to real science:

The project has four principal scientific objectives:

  1. To characterize precisely the main elements of the universal religious repertoire and the extent of its variation
  2. To establish the principal causes of the universal religious repertoire
  3. To account for variations in the degree of elaboration (and emphasis) of each element of the repertoire in different religious traditions, contemporaneously and historically
  4. To develop models for simulating future courses of transformation in specified religious systems

These objectives involve ethnographic, historical and psychological research carried out by selected fellows, postgraduate students, and European project partners. Publication of major findings can be found on this website.

From a Christian perspective I find it thrilling that God set in motion a process which evolved in us a sense of religion, bringing His Creation closer to Him. Were Adam and Eve the first humanoids who achieved a religious consciousness? Seems to make a lot of sense and it would resolve the unnecessary conflict between the Bible and the age of the Universe and this earth. From a scientific perspective I find it fascinating how religion may have evolved, showing us a better understanding of our evolutionary history.