Routledge at TWU: Psychology of Religion in a Secular World

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FREE PUBLIC EVENT: TWU: Science, Faith, & Human Flourishing and the CSCA present a lecture by Clay Routledge (Professor of Psychology, North Dakota State University).


Clay Routledge
"The Wandering Spiritual Mind: Psychology of Religion in a Secular World"

Tuesday | 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm | Northwest Building (Auditorium), Trinity Western University

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The Wandering Spiritual Mind: Psychology of Religion in a Secular World

Public polls indicate that the Western world is becoming decreasingly religious. Today, compared to past generations, fewer people in the West believe in God, claim a religion, indicate religion is important to their daily lives, and attend religious services. Though these trends reveal changing attitudes and behaviors related to traditional religious identities and beliefs, they say little about the religious nature of humans. A growing body of behavioral science research suggests that many common views about the psychology of religion are wrong. Most people, including those who do not perceive themselves as religious, engage in religious-like thinking and behavior, particularly when grappling with existential questions about death and meaning. However, emerging research suggests that alternative religious-like beliefs and practices may not be successfully meeting people’s social and existential needs and poses the question of whether science-centered secular culture can thrive without protecting a space for the sacred.

Dr. Clay Routledge is a behavioral scientist, writer, and professor of psychology at North Dakota State University. Much of his work focuses on the human need to find and maintain meaning in life. More specifically, his research examines individual differences in the need for meaning, the underlying cognitive processes involved in meaning-making, the different ways people seek and maintain meaning, and how the presence or absence of meaning influences health, wellbeing, self-control, and goal pursuit. Dr. Routledge is an award-winning scholar who has published over 100 academic papers and co-edited two books. He authored the books Nostalgia: A Psychological Resource and Supernatural: Death, Meaning, and the Power of the Invisible World.  He was also the lead author for the TED-Ed animated lesson Why Do We Feel Nostalgia? His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, John Templeton Foundation, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and Charles Koch Foundation. Dr. Routledge writes a monthly column for Quillette Magazine and his writing has also appeared in The New York Times, National Review, The Wall Street Journal, and Scientific American. He frequently serves as a public speaker and guest on popular podcasts and radio and television programs. His work is regularly featured in diverse media outlets such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Men’s Health, Vox, Huffington Post, The Guardian, BBC News, CBS News, CBC News, and CNN. You can find out more about Dr. Routledge’s work at

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