BINGHAMTON, NY – John Teehan, associate professor of religion at Hofstra University, will host a discussion titled, “Empathy, Cruelty, and Religion: An Evolutionary-Cognitive Perspective,” at 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29, in room G-008 of the Academic A building, on the Binghamton University campus. This event is free and open to the public.

Teehan's research focuses on the implications of evolution for morality and religion, and on the moral naturalism of American philosopher and psychologist John Dewey. He explores how evolutionary-cognitive science impacts the philosophy of religion, in particular the problem of evil and the justification of belief.

Cognitive science suggests that religion serves to cultivate man’s evolved moral psychology, a psychology that evolved to address conflicts that stem from the individual’s pursuit of survival and reproductive success as part of a complex social species. This research provides a fresh perspective into the complicated relationship between religion, morality, and violence.

In his discussion, Teehan will present the basics of evolved cognitive models of morality and religion and argue that these mental tools have shaped Judaic and Christian moral traditions. Using cognitive-critical analysis of Biblical moral teachings, insight will be provided as to how these texts can generate both empathetic and cruel behavior.

This discussion is sponsored by the Binghamton University Evolutionary Studies Program (EvoS) and the Department of Judaic Studies.

For additional information, contact Hadassah Head at hhead1@binghamton.edu.