Faculty Research Day

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While walking around and reading about the research that members of our faculty had conducted in their particular area of expertise, I stumbled upon a display that caught my attention. The Professor whom the display belonged to, John Teehan, who has a PhD in Philosophy and an MA in Psychology, is a Professor of religion here at Hofstra. His study focused mainly on these 5 essential questions:

Why do people believe in God?

Why is religion universal?

How does religion shape behavior?

Why do people commit violence in the name of God?

Can science provide the answers?

In order to answer these questions, Professor Teehan had to further explore the origin of religion. Did God create man or did man create God? That question seems to be the question of the century. According to Professor Teehan, different religions answer that questions differently which create the basis of their religions.

Roman Catholics, for example, believe that God created man and then based on what we learned from the bible, man recreated God.

To answer this question, Professor Teehan decided on a different approach however. He decided that in order to find out the origin of religion we would have to take a look into the origin of our thoughts, the human brain. Taking a look at how the brain works, Professor Teehan explored the idea that the brain is actively trying to find order in the environment which gives rise to the belief in religion. Using science as a means to explain religion, Professor Teehan also took a look at the cognitive bases of the problem of evil. 

Why do people commit violence in the name of God?

He combines his background in Philosophy and Psychology to take a look at empathy, cruelty, and religion from a cognitive perspective. 

Overall I found what he had to say very interesting, to the point where I’m even considering taking his class, to further explore the questions of the universe that might forever go unanswered. 

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