Field of Science

How fear and anxiety leads to more religion - a presentation

On Saturday I gave a presentation in Bournemouth to the Dorset Humanists, on the topic 'Fear and God'. In the talk I review many of the studies I've covered on this blog, looking at how and why fear and anxiety provoke religious responses, and the link between unstable and dangerous societies with greater levels of religion. I also look at some of the consequences of the anxiolytic effects of religion on behaviour.

The talk is aimed at a general, non-scientific audience (although it does cover a lot of science), so if you're looking for an easy to digest introduction to this topic, then you might find this interesting! The talk itself runs for 50 minutes, with another 20 minutes of questions at the end.

Creative Commons License This article by Tom Rees was first published on Epiphenom. It is licensed under Creative Commons.


  1. Thanks for the video, Tom. I'll watch it later today. Keep up the good work with the Blog.

    Buck, from Texas

  2. Interesting, bookmarked as ref & listening.

    Good walk through. But ~ 40 min in there is mentioning of brain parts 'that we share with reptiles'. FWIW, the 'triune brain' is unfavored (rejected) nowadays:

    "Though embraced by some psychiatrists and at least one leading affective neuroscience researcher,[2] the model never won wide acceptance among comparative neurobiologists and neurophysiologists. Comparative evolutionary neuroanatomists currently regard its claims about brain evolution to be outdated.[3] ...

    ... the triune brain hypothesis was based on what is now recognized as a faulty interpretation of the anatomical organization and evolution of the vertebrate brain."

  3. Damn, that was all the rage in my undergrad days. Still, that was 20 years ago!

  4. In the Q and A, What was the name of the fellow you mentioned who was projecting where we're headed? I couldn't quite make it out. Thanks for a great presentation, and wonderful blog.

  5. Actually, I'm glad that bit was unclear. What I said was Gerald Kaufman (!), although I meant to say Eric Kaufman.

    His book is well worth reading, if you're interested in demographic trends in religion. My review of his book is here, and I covered his research into Europe's future here.

  6. Hi Tom,
    Stephen Cave has a new book 'Immortality: The quest to live forever and how it drives civilisation'.

    Four immortality narratives: 1) staying alive, 2) resurrection, 3) soul, 4) legacy

    These four narratives may help to explain our fear about dying ... and gods.


Markup Key:
- <b>bold</b> = bold
- <i>italic</i> = italic
- <a href="">FoS</a> = FoS