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God and Machine at Juniata: Professor to Talk on Computer Modeling and Religion

(Posted September 29, 2008)

Donald Braxton, Good Professor of Religion

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Donald Braxton, professor of religion at Juniata College, will give a talk on "God From the Machine: Understanding Religious Behavior Using Computers" at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday Oct. 8 in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science on the Juniata campus.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The talk is part of the Bookend Seminar series, which features afternoon lectures each month by Juniata College faculty.

Braxton's talk will detail his recent research and work on developing computer modeling tools to help explain religious behavior. Next year, Braxton, as part of a sabbatical, will travel to the University of Aarhus in Denmark to work as a research fellow with a team of religion scholars, computer scientists, neuroscientists, computer scientists and anthropologists.

His talk will address some of the aspects of religion that can be constructed as a computer model. Some of these religious aspects include: frequency of supernatural experiences, the consequences of displaying the dead in public, and how representations of gods influence altruism.

Braxton came to Juniata in 2002 from Capitol University in Columbus, Ohio, where he was associate professor of religion. He earned a bachelor's degree in religion and political science from Wittenberg University in 1986. He went on to earn a master's degree (divinity) in 1987 and a doctorate in Christian ethics in 1993, both from the University of Chicago. He is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

From 1991 to 1994, Braxton was visiting assistant professor of religion at St Norbert College in De Pere, Wis. He joined the faculty at Capitol University in 1995.

He is a member of the American Academy of Religion, Institute for Religion in the Age of Science, the Society of Christian Ethics, and the Midatlantic International Academy of Religion, and the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.