Religion and Philosophy

Helping hands while traveling. Illustration By George Wylesol (AFAR Magazine)

What’s the most uncomfortable you’ve ever been on a trip? Anu Taranath is a social justice facilitator and teacher, used to having difficult conversations about race, identity and privilege. She says those are issues that come up all the time when Americans travel abroad.More

The many realities

How do you know what’s real? Start with your senses — if you can see, touch, hear or taste something, it’s real — right? Not necessarily, according to cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman and neurologist Suzanne O’Sullivan.More

"The Tradition" book cover design by Phil Kovacevich

Jericho Brown is an award-winning poet who has been working with religious language for a long time. His poems have titles like "1 Corinthians 13:11" and "Hebrews 13." His book "The Tradition" continues to mine Brown's childhood in the church.More

lonely plant

Once you acknowledge that plants are intelligent and sentient beings, moral questions quickly follow. Should they have rights? How can we think of plants as "persons"? Plant scientist Matt Hall sorts out these ideas with Steve.More

earth from space

Lidia Yuknavitch’s apocalyptic novel “The Book of Joan” is one of the most stunning examples of climate fiction. It’s the story of a near-future where Earth is decimated and the last few survivors are stranded out in space.More

alchemical recipes

Pamela Smith's science history students spend a semester taking medieval alchemical recipes and re-creating them in a lab.More

pyramid

Alchemists believed that if they could transform matter, why not also the spirit, or the self? That last part is what’s attracting new followers today, like Sara Durn.More

meditation

Andrew Newberg is a pioneer in neurotheology. He says brain scans can show the neural signature of spiritual experience.More

Experience the divine

Jeff Schloss is an evolutionary biologist. He’s also Christian. As a scientist, he’s trying to develop an evolutionary theory for the origins of religion. But he says science can’t explain everything about religion.More

lightning

Ancient humans lived as hunter-gatherers, with animistic religions. So why did people start to believe in Big Gods? University of British Columbia psychologist Ara Norenzayan has a theory. More

Chimpanzee

African chimps store caches of big rocks to throw at certain trees. And some scientists wonder, are those trees sacred to them?More

Budding hope

Hope can seem saccharine. Bland. Trite. But talking about hope with Andre Willis, a philosopher of religion, might make you realize you're not thinking big enough when you think about what hope means.More

Clocks and clocks and clocks

Mathematical cosmologist Brian Swimme talks to Steve Paulson about the nature of time and the human obsession with clock time.More

Clock

He’s one of the most frenetically productive, wired guys on the planet, but digital media theorist Douglas Rushkoff is backing away from the clock.More

Ross Gay

In a dark world, poet Ross Gay recommends "stacking delights." Share what you love, he says — not what you hate.More

raven

Years ago, the philosopher David Abram was a sleight-of-hand magician who wanted to learn from the "traditional magicians" of Asia. So he apprenticed with a powerful shaman in Nepal, who seemed to have the ability to transform into a raven.More

field hockey witch

The 1980s were a golden age for witches. Women everywhere started covens. Among them, the girls field hockey team at Danvers High School in Massachusetts. At least, that’s how Quan Barry imagines it in her recent novel, “We Ride Upon Sticks.”More

witches

Archaeologist Chris Gosden has written a global history of magic, from the Ice Age to the internet. He told Steve Paulson he’s come to believe our own culture would be healthier and happier if we took magic more seriously.More

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