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Being Religious

Guest Speaker: Dr. Mladen Turk, Associate Professor, Niebuhr Distinguished Chair, Dept. of Religious Studies, Elmhurst College

In this talk Dr. Turk will discuss how religions have promoted survival and cultural development by fostering morality, meaning-making, and group cohesion, using symbol, ritual, story, and hard-to-fake signs of commitment.  In his book, Being Religious: Cognitive and Evolutionary Theories in Historical Perspective, from which he is taking his talk, he expounds on understanding religion as a complex interplay of various capacities arising from and influencing our biological and cultural makeup.  Our religious behaviors can influence our relationship towards each other and towards our environment in significant ways.  He shows how some aspects of complex religious behaviors can be understood better in light of human cognition and evolutionary biology.

Mladen Turk holds the Niebuhr Distinguished Chair at Elmhurst College. He received his Master of Philosophy from the University of Bergen (Norway), his Master of Theology from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and his Ph.D. from that same school of theology.  His area of specialization is religion and science with special focus on scientific theories of religion and methodology of the study of religion.  He teaches broadly in the areas of history of Christianity in 19th and 20th century and religious traditions of South Asia.  Mladen studied philosophy, ethnology, Indology (the academic study of the history and cultures, languages, and literature of the Indian) and theology in Zagreb, Croatia, before obtaining the above mentioned degrees.  He leads students overseas for month long courses to study religions of India.  In addition to the above mentioned book, he has published a textbook in philosophy, Logic: Exercises and Solutions, 2nd edition (1995).