Studying Life's Big Questions

Biology professor Jeffrey Schloss has received two grants to study issues related to science and faith. He is exploring “Organic Embodiment of Transcendent Moral Commitments” with faculty from three other institutions through a $20,000 Science and Transcendence Advanced Research Series grant. His work examines how religious worship affects the human bonding hormone, oxytocin, which acts in the brain to support attachment between mothers and infants, husbands and wives, and even social cooperation. “Religious faith has been criticized as destructive to human well-being by a number of prominent scientists recently while other studies have found benefits to faith,” Schloss says. “But nobody has explored possible causes, which is what we’re interested in. Are we built biologically to flourish when worshiping?” The team will publicize its research to promote a positive view of the relationship between faith and biological science.

Schloss also received a $97,000 grant from the John Templeton Foundation to support an 18-month project, “Evolutionary Theory, Religious Belief, and Life’s Big Questions,” that supports a book, a series of talks and articles, and an international conference to be held in Santa Barbara.

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