The Science of Religion, Spirituality, and Existentialism explores known contours and emerging frontiers, addressing the big question of why religious belief remains such a central feature of the human experience.
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Part 1: Death 1. Dwelling Forever in the House of the Lord: On the Terror Management Function of Religion 2. Death anxiety and religious belief: A critical review 3. Face to Face with Death: The Role of Religion in Coping with Suffering 4. Near-Death Experiences: The Mystical Feeling of "Crossing Over" and Its Impact on Faith and Spirituality
Part 2: Freedom 5. Reactance and spiritual possibilities: An application of psychological reactance theory 6. Understanding the psychology of religion: The contribution of Self Determination Theory 7. A Goals Perspective on Religion and Spirituality 8. Religion and Spirituality, Free Will, and Effective Self-Regulation 9. Authenticity and the True Self in Religion and Spirituality 10. Freedom as a Cross to Bear: Choice-Overload, the Burdens of Freedom, and the Benefits of Constraint
Part 3: Isolation and social identity 11. Social Ostracism, Religion, and Existential Concerns 12. The holy grail of connection: I-sharing, existential isolation, and religion 13. An attachment theory perspective on religion and spirituality 14. A social identity approach to religion: Religiosity at the nexus of personal and collective self 15. Religion and the construction of identity
Part 4: Systems of meaning 16. Truth and significance: A 3N Model (needs, narratives, networks) perspective on religion 17. Existential Uncertainty and Religion 18. Cosmic dad or Cthulhu: Why we will always need (religious) absolutes 19. Religiousness and meaning making following stressful life events 20. Meaning, religious/spiritual struggles, and well-being
Part 5: Mechanisms, variations, and individual differences 21. In His Own Image: An Existential Evolutionary Perspective on the Origins and Function of Religion 22. Fear Not: Religion and Emotion Regulation in Coping with Existential Concerns 23. Existential Givens, Religion, and Neuroscience 24. The Existential implications of individual differences in religious defensive and growth orientations: Fundamentalism, quest religiosity, and intrinsic/extrinsic religiosity 25. Existential Therapy, Religion, and Mindfulness
Part 6: Applications and controversies 26. Science and religion: A rocky relationship shaped by shared psychological functions 27. Of Flesh and Blood: Death, Creatureliness, and Incarnational Ambivalence towards the Divine 28. Religion: More essential (and existential) nutrient than opiate for the masses 29. Politics and Religion: Commutable, Conflicting, and Collaborative Systems for Satisfying the Need for Order 30. The Paradox of Faith: How Existential Concerns Motivate both Prosocial and Antisocial Religious Behaviors 31. Religion and Health: Building Existential Bridges
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.
Clay Routledge Department of Psychology, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND, USA.
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