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McCauley Talks Religion, Science in Tuesday’s Lecture

Susan Broadbridge
Robert McCauley from Emory University speaks in Bennett Auditorium Tuesday night as part of the lecture series called Philosophical Fridays. -Susan Broadbridge
Robert McCauley from Emory University speaks in Bennett Auditorium Tuesday night as part of the lecture series called Philosophical Fridays. -Susan Broadbridge

Starting a dialogue about religion and science is not unlike walking a tightrope. One slip and you can fall into a river of fallacies and backpedaling. The subjects are two poles in between which many would argue lies no connection at all. But as 100 students took their seats in an auditorium Tuesday night, Robert McCauley approached the microphone to set a few things straight.

In Bennett Auditorium, the Department of Philosophy and Religion, in partnership with the Southern Miss Honors College, Phi Kappa Phi honor society and the Mississippi Humanities Council, introduced guest speaker Robert McCauley of Emory University as a part of an ongoing lecture series called Philosophical Fridays.

McCauley discussed the cognitive aspect to religion’s organic development across the human spectrum and why he believes it is more natural than science.

During his lecture, McCauley emphasized the intersection of science and religion. He opened the talk by discussing what he called “intuitive versus maturational cognition” and later went on to discuss children’s organic development of language and understanding of basic physics.

He afterward conferred about his views on science and inorganic human pursuit.

In the third and final portion of his lecture, McCauley gave a talk on the recentness of science in human history and divulged that religion, being widespread across cultures and even predating humanity as we know it, is a natural development by way of universal human cognition.

He suggested that religion’s popularity can be attributed to its nativity to the human mind.

Following the lecture, attendees had the opportunity to ask McCauley questions and purchase his book, “Why Religion is Natural and Science is Not.”

Students and faculty alike gave McCauley a very warm welcome, applauding at every chance they could. He even made a few book sales.

According to English major Jeremy Childress, a student who attended the lecture, Philosophical Fridays are well worth the attention. “I think I’ve attended every one of them,” Childress said. “They’re actually quite well done.”

McCauley has thus far written five books, two of which have been edited. He has another book on which he has recently started work with another author.

The title of the book is to be ‘Gods in Disorder,’” McCauley said. “What we’re going to be arguing is that, well, we’re defending a position we call ‘ecumenical nationalism.’ That’s to say that religious people aren’t crazy.

McCauley said he has worked in education for 36 years. He is the director of Mind, Brain and Culture at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and is a regular university speaker.

Tuesday evening was the fifth talk he has given this year, and he is scheduled to speak at the University of Texas next week. In January, he gave a lecture at a conference in China.

McCauley’s books can be purchased from his website,, where additional information and his blog can also be found.

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McCauley Talks Religion, Science in Tuesday’s Lecture