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The Human Sentience Project

Three papers were published Feb. 12, 2018, as a set, 
"Evolution of Religious Capacity in the Genus Homo" 
in Zygon; Journal of Religion and Science 53(1), based
on human genomics, neuroscience, & cognitive science.

Visit us on Twitter, and to access our new book, 
Space Science and Astronomy Theatre (2017), 
click here for soft cover or e-book.

Our Mission
We ask… What is so special about the way humans think? 

The Human Sentience Project is interdisciplinary, addressing fundamental questions at the intersection of Science, Art, and Religion. Yet, it relies fully on the latest findings in the social and physical sciences, so our work changes as the findings in cognitive science, archaeology, and paleobiology change. Said another way, the Human Sentience Project asks "Questions at the Borderlines of Science, Art, and Religion."

The Human Sentience Project looks for answers, starting with a foundation in anthropology and moving through existing findings from archaeology, evolutionary biology, cognitive psychology, neuroscience,
philosophy, and theology, to extrapolate the underpinnings of human thinking in Science, Religion, and Art – what we call the Advanced Domains of Thought (although there are others, such as Sport and Cuisine). 

Our most recent project is entitled, The Origin of Religious Capacity in the Genus Homo. This involves fascinating details on our ancient ape ancestral population that thrived in the Miocene, and presents a biological model for the evolution of religious capacity (religious thinking) to complement our model on the evolution of moral capacity in Homo erectus. We were gratified that our set of three papers with this title (and subtitled "Origins and Building Blocks," "Cognitive Time Sequence," and "Trait Complexity in Action through Compassion") will be published as a specical section in Zygon 53(1), March 2018. 

A 2016/2017 project was The Human Hearth and the Dawn of Morality. It was recently published in Zygon; Journal of Religion and Science. We presented an early version to colleagues in Krakow. It includes a model of how the first moral systems may have evolved in an earlier member of our genus Homo. A follow-up paper is now out, Human Phenotypic Morality and the Biological Basis for Knowing Good.

One of our ongoing projects is to develop a full formulation of the Emotional Brain Hypothesis. We began with a paper for a meeting of the European Society for the Study of Science and Religion (ESSSAT), in Assisi, Italy, 2014. The preliminary concept paper has been published as: Rappaport, Margaret Boone, and Christopher Corbally. 2016. The Emotional Brain Hypothesis: Emotional, Social, and Religious Vetting in the Evolution of Rational Decision Making and Scientific Modeling. Issues in Science and Religion: Do Emotions Shape the World? New York: Springer Publishing. Click on this icon to see the conference paper.

In 2015 we published our first proposal for what we call Matrix Thinkingª, and how it may have helped our hominin ancestors survive. It is derived from the theoretical concepts of Enhanced Working Memory¹, the human Socio-Cognitive Niche and Deep Social Mind², and in a context of the Social Brain Hypothesis³. We look at the Actual Functions of modern man’s adaptations with a view toward their Proper Functions in early man‡.  

A paper on our model of Matrix Thinking (click here) appeared in March 2015, as "Matrix Thinking: An Adaptation at the Foundation of Human Science, Religion, and Art," in Zygon 50(1):84-112. 

Our Goals
The Human Sentience Project has some very practical goals.
  • Development of new formats and innovative approaches for education of youth, adults, and the public, including, for example:  dramatic and comedic skits, interpretive dialogues, video presentations, web-based materials, and workbooks. One of the latest formats we have used is the panoramic poster, showing a wide sweep of evolutionary processes behind our "Advanced Domains of Thought" (Science, Religion, and Art). Click here for a poster example.
Chris Corbally, and Margaret Boone Rappaport
Founders of the Human Sentience Project LLC, Chris Corbally & Margaret Boone Rappaport,
in costume for the Astronomy Skit,
"The Cassiopeian Supernova of A.D. 3054, or, Good News Travels Fast"
Performed at the Hayden Planetarium,
American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York, on July 8, 2013,
for the Eighth International Conference on the Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena.
  • Public education on common questions about evolutionary science and religion, and how to reconcile existing conflicts in the minds of many.  Public education on the commonalities of Science, Religion, and Art – the Advanced Domains of Thought for sentient beings on Earth.
  • Public speaking, in order to generate good discussion among individuals from a wide variety of disciplines who share an interest in human sentience and its origins.
  • Research and analysis of existing evidence for human sentience in the archaeological record, as well as evidence from laboratory testing in cognitive psychology, cognitive archaeology, and the cognitive study of religion.

  • Introduction of Matrix Thinking in the above formats. Since Matrix Thinking in Science, Religion, and Art helped early hominins adjust to their changing environment, a better understanding of it will help us adjust to our changing world.  The use of Matrix Thinking becomes a “Wellspring of New Knowledge for Our Coming Global Society.”

    ª  “Matrix Thinking” is also a term also used in management training by Roger LaSalle, who contrasts it with “linear thinking.”  This is not the meaning we use, instead relying on a context of evolutionary biology, archaeology, and the cognitive sciences.
    Click "Bibliography," to the left, for the following full citations.
    ¹  Wynn and Coolidge, 2011.
    ²  Whiten and Erdal, 2012.
    ³  Dunbar, 2009; Stringer 2012.
    ‡  Fiddick and Barrett, 2001.
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