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The Science of Religion, Spirituality, and Existentialism

  • ID: 4850232
  • Book
  • 500 Pages
  • Elsevier Science and Technology
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The Science of Religion, Spirituality, and Existentialism presents in-depth analysis of the core psychological drivers of religion and religious-like concepts, beliefs, identities, and practices. The book is organized around four key existential themes-death, freedom, isolation, and meaning. Leading scholars cover multiple levels of analysis (motivational forces, social and cultural forces, individual differences, cognitive and neuroscientific mechanisms, and physical and mental health outcomes). Not only does the book explore the contours and frontiers of the existential science of religion, but it also helps answer the big question of why religious belief remains such a central feature of the human experience.

  • Examines how faith can stem from basic cognitive and emotional processes
  • Discusses the cause and consequences of individual and cultural differences in religion and spirituality
  • Applies religious motivation to art, creativity, science, nature, and social justice, war, terrorism, and well-being
  • Covers concepts such as theory of mind, dual processing, concept acquisition, and emotion regulation
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1. The awareness of death and religious/spiritual belief: TMT
2. Explicit death anxiety and religious belief
3. Face to face with death: Coping with direct, concrete threat
4. Near-death experience: The mystical feeling of "crossing over” and its impact on faith and spirituality
5. Reactance and spiritual possibilities
6. Freedom as a Cross to bear: Choice-overload, decision fatigue, burdens of responsibility, and trust in God and religion
7. A self-determined soul: The role of autonomy in religious life
8. A goals perspective on religion and spirituality
9. Religion, free will, and effective self-regulation
10. Religion and the illusion of free will
11. Social exclusion, loneliness, and religion
12. I-sharing as a window to the soul
13. Religion, close relationships, and attachment to god
14. Religious groups: Identity, entitativity, belonging, and conflict
15. Religion and the epistemic need to know
16. Religion as a shared reality
17. Uncertainty, identity, and religious system justification
18. Religion and meaning-maintenance in everyday life
19. Spiritual meaning-making and stressful life events
20. Meaning, religious/spiritual struggles, and well-being
21. Evolution in the existential science of religion
22. Cognition in the existential science of religion
23. Emotion and emotion regulation in the existential science of religion
24. Morality in the existential science of religion
25. Existential neuroscience of religion: A broad view
26. Individual differences in religious defensiveness and growth-orientations
27. Existential unbelief: Spirituality, agnosticism, atheism
28. Existential concerns and religious modes of mindfulness
29. Global expressions and cultural variations
30. Creative expression and religion
31. Religion, progress, and science
32. Nature, women, and purity
33. Church and state: God, government, and social justice
34. Existential concern, religious belief, and aggressive and prosocial behavior
35. Existential concerns, religious faith, and physical and mental health
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Vail III, Kenneth E.
Dr. Kenneth Vail is a psychological scientist and professor at Cleveland State University, and director of the Social Psychology & Existential Attitudes Research (SPEAR) Laboratory. He completed his BA in psychology at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and his MA and PhD at the University of Missouri. His research is focused on motivation and the self, broadly, investigating the cultural and personal consequences of the human existential condition. Much of this research touches on the consequences of humans' awareness of their own mortality, autonomy, and choice freedom, and the influence of these existential concerns on cultural activity (e.g., politics, religion), personal growth, and both physical health (e.g., nutrition, carcinogenic behavior) and mental health (e.g., PTSD). He has published dozens of research articles and scholarly chapters, and co-edited special issues of journals such as Religion, Brain, & Behavior and Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. Some of his research findings have been featured in national and international news outlets including The Atlantic, Pacific Standard, Live Science, TEDx, Telegraph UK, and the Times of India, and he has contributed to notable volumes such as: Science and the World's Religions; The Psychology of Meaning; The Experience of Meaning in Life; Advances in Motivation Science; and the Handbook of Terror Management Theory and Research. At Cleveland State University, Dr. Vail has earned awards (e.g., Golden Apple Award; Outstanding Teaching Awards) for his work teaching and mentoring across a variety of domains in psychological science. For more information, visit: csuohio.edu/sciences/spear-lab.
Routledge, Clay
Dr. Clay Routledge is a behavioral scientist, writer, consultant, and professor of psychology at North Dakota State University. Much of his work focuses on the human need to find and maintain meaning in life . More specifically, using a range of empirical methods, his research examines the underlying cognitive processes involved in meaning-making, the different ways people seek meaning, and how the presence or absence of meaning influences physical and psychological health, self-control, goal pursuit, and social and community engagement. Dr. Routledge has published over 100 academic papers and co-edited three books. He authored the books Nostalgia: A Psychological Resource and Supernatural: Death, Meaning, and the Power of the Invisible World. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, John Templeton Foundation, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and Charles Koch Foundation. Dr. Routledge regularly writes for media outlets such as Scientific American, National Review, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. He is also a nonresident scholar for the Baylor Institute for the Studies of Religion and a senior fellow at the Institute for Family Studies. Dr. Routledge frequently serves as a business consultant, public speaker, and guest on popular podcasts and radio and television programs. His work is also regularly featured in diverse media outlets such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Men's Health, Variety, Forbes, Vox, Huffington Post, The Guardian, BBC News, CBS News, CBC News, and CNN. You can find out more about Dr. Routledge's work at clayroutledge.com.
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