UK researchers will spend $3.7 million probing whether belief in God is a matter of nature or nurture, the Times of London reports. The University of Oxford crew will examine whether faith in a deity conferred an evolutionary advantage, or might be byproduct of other advantageous human characteristics, such as sociability.
The researchers will approach religion via the cognitive sciences, which combine evolutionary biology, neuroscience, linguistics, and computer sciences to examine human behavior, the Times reports. They will not attempt to "prove or disprove any aspect of religion,” one researcher said. The 3-year-study was funded by the John Templeton Foundation, a Pennsylvania nonprofit that supports investigations of "life’s biggest questions."