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Explaining Atheism



£2.7 million from the John Templeton Foundation

PI: Jonathan Lanman (QUB)

Co-PIs: Lois Lee (Kent), Aiyana Willard (Brunel)

Co-Is: Stephen Bullivant (St. Mary's/Notre Dame Australia), Miguel Farias (Coventry)

Project Manager: Claire Berlyn (QUB)

Programme Website:

Atheism, agnosticism, and other forms of non-belief in God or gods are widespread and growing, raising public debates about the personal and social impacts of non-belief and how to include such perspectives in legal frameworks, education, and public policy. Further, the growth of non-belief, as well as its uneven distribution around the world, raises questions for the scientific study of religion and culture. If beliefs in God or gods are largely the products of evolved human psychology, then how are we to explain the growth and distribution of atheism, agnosticism, and other forms of religious non-belief? What are the main causes of atheism?

With generous funding from the John Templeton Foundation, in collaboration with Queen’s University Belfast (Jon Lanman), Brunel University (Aiyana Willard), University of Kent (Lois Lee), St Mary’s University Twickenham/University of Notre Dame Australia (Stephen Bullivant), and Coventry University (Miguel Farias), Explaining Atheism is the first major research initiative of its kind to examine the causes of atheism across disciplines and across cultures.

For more information on the programme, and to stay up-to-date on our activities and opportunities visit the programme website and follow us on Twitter @ExplainingAthe1or contact us at

This project was made possible through the support of Grant 61928 from the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.