American Secularism: Seven Questions

In our interview series, “Seven Questions,” we ask some very smart people about what inspires them and how their latest work enhances our understanding of the sacred in cultural life. For this segment, we solicited responses from Joseph O. Baker and Buster G. Smith, co-authors of American Secularism: Cultural Contours of Nonreligious Belief Systems (New York University Press, 2015). 1. What sparked the idea for writing this book? In delving deeper into the sociology of religion as a subfield, we were struck by an interesting split in the discipline. On the one hand you have numerous classic texts on theory, […]

Orientations, Comparison, History

This is a three-part conversation. Kathryn Lofton and Tomoko Masuzawa, two of the leading lights in the study of religion, cover a variety of topics, including secularism, critical theory, history, comparison and more within the field. It is an engaging and wide-ranging conversation, for your enjoyment and illumination.

An Interview with Frans de Waal Part 3: Science & Religion

This is part 3 of our series of interviews with Frans de Waal. Check out part 1 and part 2 of our interview series. Frans de Waal is an eminent primatologist renowned not only for his many publications in scientific journals, but also for several widely read books, including Chimpanzee Politics and, more recently, The Bonobo and the Atheist. In the latter work, Professor de Waal explores how non-human primates, even in the absence of anything we might call “religion,” have a profound capacity for empathy and social cohesion in a way that may serve as a basis for morality in the case of humans. Speaking […]

An Interview with Frans de Waal Part 2: Freud, Biology of Morality, and a Secular Ethics

This is part 2 of our series of interviews with Frans de Waal. Check out part 1 of our interview here. Frans de Waal is an eminent primatologist renowned not only for his many publications in scientific journals, but also for several widely read books, including Chimpanzee Politics and, more recently, The Bonobo and the Atheist. In the latter work, Professor de Waal explores how non-human primates, even in the absence of anything we might call “religion,” have a profound capacity for empathy and social cohesion in a way that may serve as a basis for morality in the case of humans. Speaking with […]