GWH Monthly Meeting: Differences Between Secular and Religious Minds

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Religion / Spirituality - Lecture/Discussion

Date & Time: Tuesday, May 14, 2019
7:00 PM-9:00 PM

Suggested Audiences: High School, College, Adult, Elders
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UU Church of Worcester
90 Holden Street
Worcester, MA 01606
Description: Please join Greater Worcester Humanists for our May 14 meeting. Catherine Caldwell-Harris will speak on The Differences Between Secular and Religious Minds. You are welcome to arrive and mingle around 6:30 PM. We will begin the formal meeting at 7 PM.

Are there cognitive and personality styles that tend to go along with belief in God vs. skepticism/atheism?

In recent decades, there has been rapid change in scientific attitudes towards individual differences in personality and cognitive styles. Traditionally in the 20th century, it seemed odd and even obviously incorrect to claim that any one group of people had certain personality traits. Today this is accepted, especially when couched in terms of statistical probabilities. We will discuss stereotypes that audience members may bring up, and how valid they are (e.g., Engineers are logical, artists intuitive). We will then review evidence that personality and cognitive styles contribute to belief in God and our broader understanding of humans' place in the universe.

If religious and secular minds differ, are are short-term artifacts of the recent cultural changes? What are the implications for society and our lives?

Speaker Bio:

Catherine Caldwell-Harris, Associate Professor of Psychology at Boston University, has conducted research in several areas within the cognitive and behavioral sciences, including psycholinguistics, cross-cultural psychology, and individual differences. She notes that everyday observations, as well as research, suggest that causes of individual differences in religious belief are a complex outcome of genetic temperamental predispositions, family upbringing, societal values, and idiosyncratic life experiences. In one of Dr. Caldwell-Harris' studies, atheists reported finding as much meaning in life as did religious persons, but they eschewed terms related to supernaturalism (like 'spiritual'), and focused their moral concerns on the pragmatic here-and-now. Dr. Caldwell-Harris has also studied low religious belief in individuals with Asperger Syndrome. Dr. Caldwell-Harris is developing a new project to study religious doubt in Turkey, a country where she has long conducted research on topics including bilingualism and individualism-collectivism.
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Entered by: Greater Worcester Humanists

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Created: May 13, 2019 at 10:34 AM

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