Skip to main content

Gunning Lectures: Religion as worldviews and as ways of life

Monday 19 March:  Studying Religions as Worldviews and Ways of Life

Abstract: Conceptualizing religions as worldviews and ways of life offers a framework for rethinking various problems in the study of religion, including the religious / secular binary in relation to the growing interest in secular and “non-religious” studies; the relationship between indigenous traditions and so-called “world religions” in situations of contact, conquest, and/or global communication; and the challenges inherent in relating biological, cognitive, and cultural processes.  This lecture will be followed by a drinks Reception in Rainy Hall.


Tuesday 20 March: The Evolutionary Foundations of Worldviews

Abstract: Humans are not the only animals with self-and-world modeling capacity and ways of life.  All organisms generate implicit answers to at least some of the big questions and thus construct meaning our of the flow of information from self-and-world.Worldviews, as defined here, build on these shared capacities but require the ability to articulate and reflect on the BQs as well.  If we compare the abilities of primates and humans, we can conceive of these additional abilities as giving humans increasingly sophisticated abilities to appraise events. 


Wednesday 21 March:  The Emergence of New Worldviews and Ways of Life

Abstract: We use multi-level appraisal process to “diagnose” and “discern” the meaning of events, including the “internal events” we think of as “experiences.”  Appraisals of unusual experiences (dreams and visions) and unexpected events (conquest and colonization) can lead to mental and cultural disintegration, at one extreme, and to the emergence of new religious, spiritual, and social movements, on the other.  

These lectures are free and open to the public.