2010 ESSSAT Prizes

The European Society for the Study of Science and Theology, ESSSAT, in 2010 has awarded its biennial ESSSAT Prize for Research to Dr. Aku Visala for his philosophical analysis of cognitive theories of religion.

ESSSAT is a scholarly society of scientists, theologians, philosophers and scholars in religious studies. The ESSSAT Research Prize will be presented at the thirteenth European Conference on Science and Theology, which will be held in Edinburgh on April 7-11, 2010.

The prize has been awarded to Dr. Aku Visala for his study Religion Explained? A Philosophical Analysis of the Cognitive Science of Religion, which he recently defended as his doctoral thesis at the University of Helsinki. Cognitive theories of religion draw on the analysis of our evolved cognitive faculties in order to understand religion. The jury found that Visala deals with a major current development of substantial complexity. His writing displays a strong grasp of relevant literature, also from neighboring fields. The work engages the issues in a mature way, coming up with well considered criticisms of others and an analysis of his own. Last but not least, the work is well written and focused.

Aku Visala is currently visiting fellow with the Center for Anthropology and Mind, Oxford University, UK. Though the evaluation of the various works submitted was on the basis of their merits by themselves, it is a happy coincidence that the theme of the upcoming conference in Edinburgh, Is Religion Natural?, aligns very well with the topic of the thesis of Aku Visala.

Additional info
On ESSSAT and the conference: www.ESSSAT.org 
Contact e-mail for Aku Visala: aku.visala@anthro.ox.ac.uk