Writings
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​Childhood Trauma and the Origins of Religious Myth

This on-line article, which is also linked to on the home page of this website, gives a good overview of my current thinking on all the religions and myths I have studied to date. The article ends with a section in which I offer a broad perspective on the connection between childhood trauma and religion. Though written for a general audience, this article is based substantially on my peer-reviewed publications (see below). The title link above takes you to the on-line version. To download as a PDF, click here.

SOURCE: Richard Dawkins Foundation, 2016.

 


 

Paradise Lost: Childhood Punishment and the Myth of Adam's Sin
This peer-reviewed essay discusses the individual's internal psychological responses to corporal punishment in a way that can facilitate psychological self-exploration. For this reason, it may be of particular value to those who are trying to understand and come to grips with their own childhood experiences of coercion and punishment. The essay also clarifies the origins of the sin-punishment dynamic in Judeo-Christian religion. 

SOURCE: Chapter in Kille, Andrew D., and Daschke, D., eds. A Cry Instead of Justice: The Bible and Cultures of Violence in Psychological Perspective. Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies; volume 499. T&T Clark: New York, 2010, pp. 19-41.
Note: This essay presumes a familiarity with the biblical story of Adam and Eve; if you want to review that story, this page provides a variety of translations.

 


 

 

The Shaping of New Testament Narrative and Salvation Teachings by Painful Childhood Experience

This 25,000-word peer-reviewed article is my most detailed scholarly publication to date. The primary focus is Christianity, in particular Christian origins and early Christianity. In the "Exploratory Excursus" that forms the final section of the article, I also discuss other religions.

SOURCEArchive for the Psychology of Religion, volume 33, no. 1, 2011, pp. 1-54.

Note: If you print this article, I recommend changing the print-menu setting from "Actual Size" to "Fit" or "Fit to Printable Area." Making this change will enlarge the very small footnotes and render the article more readable.

 


 

Religious Behavior as a Reflection of Childhood Corporal Punishment

This peer-reviewed essay explores the role of trauma-induced behavioral repetition in religious ritual, sacrament, and ethics. It focuses on the eucharist, baptism, and the ethical advocacy of innocent suffering in Christianity (e.g., the prescription to follow Christ). This essay builds on ideas developed more fully in my other articles and chapters, so it is best to approach it after reading some of my other writings.

SOURCE: Chapter in Feierman, Jay R., ed. The Biology of Religious Behavior: The Evolutionary Origins of Faith and Religion, Praeger: Westport, 2009, pp. 89-105.​

 


​How Childhood Trauma Created Christian Myth—And Why It Matters to Atheists

As the title suggests, I wrote this article specifically for atheists, in particular those who identify with the "new atheist" movement. The main presentation on Christianity overlaps extensively with that in my other writings. What is novel is the concluding section, in which, among tother things, I offer an irenic perspective on the shared humanity of atheists and theists, which focuses on the frequency of painful childhood experiences among both groups. The title-link above takes you to the on-line version; you can also download a manuscript PDFA German translation of this article also is available both on-line and as a PDF.

SOURCE: Richard Dawkins Foundation, 2016

 



What the History of Childhood Reveals about New Testament Origins and the Psychology of Christian Belief

The substance of this relatively brief article, which was my first publication, overlaps with the longer and more refined argument I subsequently made in the above-linked article from Archive for the Psychology of Religion. Though the article stands up well overall, it heavily emphasizes the role of Roman pagan childrearing practices and says little about Jewish childrearing practices; were I to write the article now, I would provide a more balanced emphasis.
SOURCE: CSER Review, Volume 2, no. 1, 2008.​

 



Book in Progress

I am currently writing a book on childhood trauma and religion. If you'd like to be notified when it is published, please submit your email address using the form on the About page.​​



Personal Myths

Many of the same trauma-related psychological processes evident in myths can play out in circumstances that are not overtly or obviously mythical. As an intriguing example, consider my review of Long Strange Trip, a remarkable documentary on Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead.