New Course for the second semester 2007/2008

BST 322: The New Science of Religion

An Introduction to the Comparative Religion

This is a new course introduced by the Department of Pali and Buddhist Studies, University of Peradeniya , for third year students as an optional course. Dr. William Grassie who joined the Department as a Senior Fulbright fellow teaches the course.

Course content

This course will introduce students to the scientific study of religious and spiritual phenomena. Diverse theoretical and methodological debates will be examined. Starting with a survey of 19 th and 20 th century psychology, sociology, and economics of religion, the course will then turn to contemporary debates within evolutionary psychology, the cognitive neurosciences, and medical sciences, about the nature and effect of religious and spiritual phenomena.

Recommended Readings :

  1. Hufford, David J. (2005) An Analysis of the Field of Spiritual, Religion, and Helath. Metanexus Online, DOI:
  2. Newberg, Andrew (2005) Field Analysis of the Neuroscientific Study of Religious and Spiritual Phenomena. Metanexus online, DOI:
  3. Pals, Daniel L. (1996). Seven Theories of Religion. New York , Oxford University Press.
  4. Sloan, Richard P. (2005) Field Analysis of the Literature on Religion, Spirituality, and Health. Metanexus Online, DOI:
  5. Smith, Huston (1991). The World's Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions. San Francisco , Harper San Francisco
  6. Wilson, David Sloan (2002). Darwin 's Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society. Chicago . The University of Chicago Press.

Dr. William Grassie at Peradeniya

Dr. William Grassie is serving as a Senior Fulbright Fellow in the Department of Pali and Buddhist Studies at the University of Peradeniya in 2008. Grassie is founder and emeritus executive director of the Metanexus Institute on Religion and Science. Metanexus currently works with some 400 partners at universities in 43 countries . Grassie received his doctorate in religion from Temple University in 1994 and his BA from Middlebury College in 1979. Grassie has taught in a variety of positions at Temple University , Swarthmore College , and the University of Pennsylvania . Prior to graduate school, Grassie worked for ten years in international relations and conflict resolution in Washington , D.C; Jerusalem , Israel ; Berlin , Germany ; and Philadelphia . He is the recipient of a number of academic awards and grants from the American Friends Service Committee, the Roothbert Fellowship, and the John Templeton Foundation. For more information, go to