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October 1, 2019

Translucent Anatomical 3d rendering of person facing away with multicolored lights emanating from their mindResearchers from Arizona State University have launched a new project to explore how we reconcile our search for spirituality in a secular age of technoscientific advancements.

Titled “Beyond Secularization: A New Approach to Religion, Science and Technology,” the interdisciplinary initiative has received a $1.7 million grant from the Templeton Religion Trust and has the potential to revolutionize how we understand the intersection of religion, science and technology in public life. It will establish a collaboratory that will include graduate students, postdocs and faculty who will develop and advance new research methods and understandings over the next several years.

“There is a pretty widespread assumption that as scientific knowledge and technological capacity increase, religion retreats to the background. And yet, if you look at how people think and talk, things are a lot messier,” said Ben Herlbut, an associate professor in the School of Life Sciences and co-principal investigator in the project. “Understanding that is important for how we think about the relationships between science, technology and religion in contemporary public life.”

Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, a Regents Professor, director of Jewish studies and another co-investigator agrees. According to her, the project is unique in that it aims to pose new questions and engage new methods to understand the interplay between religion, science and technology. She said, “We need to develop deeper ways to understand how these domains operate in our public life, and to do so, we must engage new disciplines that previously have not been applied to this field of inquiry.”

Tirosh-Samuelson is also a member of the leadership team at ASU's Environmental Humanities Initiative