Have you ever helped to crowdfund a rap album? How about a rap album that communicates SCIENCE? Or an ANIMATED rap album about the scientific study of RELIGION? Well, that's what I'm working on right now, with the help of some friends.
You can listen to two songs here, but I have eight songs finished, and backers of this campaign can download all eight right away, as a sneak preview of the album.
1) "Religion Evolves"
2) "Big Gods"
The Rap Guide to Religion is my unique brand of 'peer reviewed rap' bringing together hip-hop, comedy, and evolutionary behavioural sciences, striving to make sense of nature's most unpredictable primate: us! I'm performing The Rap Guide to Religion at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, but only a few thousand people will come to the live show, so I'm Kickstarting this animated rap album in order to share the material with as wide an audience as possible.
So what's the current scientific thinking on religious beliefs? Do they provide an evolutionary benefit, or are they nothing but a virus of the mind as Richard Dawkins says?
Theologians and philosophers have sought the meaning and purpose of life for thousands of years, often finding it in religion. Then Darwin's theory of evolution turned the world upside down. The supernatural was discarded as the source of answers to the natural world and replaced by the blind force of evolution. And now, with decades of scientific research on hand, we can finally make sense of religion using the tools of evolutionary thinking.
The field is called "Evolutionary Religious Studies" and I'm using my talent and love of rap and science to share this research with a wide audience by recording a rap album on the subject. I'm also teaming up with an amazing group of animators and illustrators led by Dave Anderson from http://bloodsausage.co.uk to create a series of animated shorts (approximately 20 minutes long in total) based on the album, so we can make the songs maximally entertaining and accessible. Check out a sample of Dave's animation work below.
I think these ideas can provide a unifying view that heals some of the rifts between the world's religions and between believers and nonbelievers. The evolutionary view of life includes all of us, and is filled with insights into the human condition, including our "belief instincts." Whether you are an atheist or a devoted believer, The Rap Guide to Religion will leave you with a wealth of fresh insights on religion and human nature.
Science and religion are old adversaries, offering competing explanations of the world. This project will show that, in a way, they are fully compatible, but only once we understand religion as a product of naturalistic forces amenable to scientific investigation.
Help us explore this exciting subject in a daring and original format, support the creation of something extraordinary, get exclusive rewards, back our campaign to share a simple but profound message with the world: religion evolves!
Risks and challenges
My previous project was The Rap Guide to Evolution, which makes this something of a sequel. "Evolution" has toured the world, played off-Broadway, and generally been a pretty big hit (we recently sold out the Sydney Opera House). That project was also made into a rap album and a series of music videos that teachers now use for getting students into the subject, available online at: http://www.rapguidetoevolution.co.uk
I have already written and recorded demo versions of eight songs for the album, and the music production team and animators are already signed up and ready to go. I'm confident – with your help – that we can successfully fulfill this project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (40 days)