2012 James Martineau Memorial Lecture


Does the Scientific Study of Religion Cast Doubt on Belief in God?

Start Date

30th Oct 2012 6:00pm

End Date

30th Oct 2012 7:30pm


Sir Raymond Ferrall Centre, Lecture Theatre 5, Newnham campus

RSVP / Contact Information

Enquiries: Dr Graham Wood - 6324 3920. RSVP: Email or phone 6226 2521

The 2012 James Martineau Memorial Lecture

will be presented by

Joshua C. Thurow

Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas at San Antonio

"Does the Scientific Study of Religion Cast Doubt on Belief in God?"


Cognitive scientists, anthropologists, and evolutionary theorists have developed sophisticated and testable theories of why humans believe in gods and other invisible beings. Should these theories, which are purely naturalistic, lead believers in God to doubt their beliefs and instead suspect that it is nature and not God that explains why they believe? After surveying some of the recent theories, I shall argue that believers in God may be entirely rational in holding their religious beliefs even with full knowledge of these theories, although they may need to reject some common reasons for believing in God.

About the speaker:

Joshua C. Thurow (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin - Madison, USA) is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at San Antonio (USA) who specializes in epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of religion. He has published essays in several journals and edited volumes; one of his essays on the cognitive science of religion recently appeared in the International Journal for Philosophy of Religion. In 2009 he received a grant from the Cognition, Religion, and Theology Project at Oxford University to engage in research on the cognitive science of religion.

 This lecture will also be presented in Hobart on Wednesday 31 October - view details.

The James Martineau Memorial lecture is sponsored by the School of Philosophy and is supported by a bequest from Tasmanian educator Samuel Lovell. The lecture enhances public engagement with questions of moral philosophy and the philosophy of religion.