Faith, Diversity, and Science Lecture series

faith, diversity and science graphic

Now in its second year, the Faith, Diversity, and Science lecture series will focus on the theme, “What does It mean to be human?,” throughout the 2022–23 academic year.

Telli Davoodi

Spring Quarter 2023

“Acquisition and function of beliefs and the role of culture”

Telli Davoodi, PhD
Thursday, May 25
4:30 p.m.
Upper Gwinn Commons
This lecture is free, open to the public, and wheelchair accessible.


For this Spring Quarter’s Faith, Diversity, and Science lecture, Dr. Telli Davoodi joins the SPU community via Zoom to present her lecture, “Acquisition and function of beliefs and the role of culture.”

Beliefs are often assumed to be guided by epistemic values such as objectivity, evidentiality, and verifiability. Yet many of our everyday beliefs are guided by emotional or social values that do not represent these canonical epistemic virtues. In this talk, Dr. Davoodi will review work with children and adults from different cultures to discuss the following questions:

  1. Are epistemic qualities unique to scientific beliefs while religious/supernatural beliefs are guided by non-epistemic virtues?
  2. How do epistemic qualities such as evidentiality reinforce emotional value of scientific and religious beliefs?
  3. How does “ignorance” interact with our beliefs in each domain?

Findings from this body of research suggest that there is partial differentiation between religious/supernatural and scientific beliefs in their qualities, how we acquire them, and how they interact with “ignorance.” 

Telli Davoodi, PhD, is a cognitive developmental psychologist by academic training and a senior social science researcher by profession. She uses cross-cultural and developmental research approaches to study social cognition. Her research focuses on the role of the socio-cultural environment in learning, forming beliefs, and reasoning about abstract social constructs, such as gender, nationality, religion, or the idea of ownership.

Psychological and Philosophical Perspectives on Faith and Belief

The Spring Quarter Faith, Diversity, and Science lecture will be part of the May 25 interdisciplinary workshop, Psychological and Philosophical Perspectives on Faith and Belief.

This interdisciplinary one-day workshop will bring together philosophers, psychologists, and theologians to examine knowledge, belief, and religious faith. Visit for more information about that special event.

This lecture series, now in its second year, is cohosted by SPU’s Office of Inclusive Excellence and Biology Department, and sponsored by a grant from the Supporting Structures: Innovative Partnerships to Enhance Bench Science at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) member institutions. The grant is supported by Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford, the UK subsidiary of the CCCU, with funding by the John Templeton Foundation and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust.