Thomas J. Coleman III

Thomas J. Coleman III

Visiting Professor
B.S., M.S., The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Ph.D. candidate, Coventry University (UK), Brain, Belief, and Behavior Lab
Office: 2115 Au Sable Hall
Phone: 616-331-8514
Personal website / curriculum vitae:
Co-host of The Unlikely Academics Podcast:

Current Semester Schedule


Social, Cognitive, Personality

Courses Taught

PSY 101 – Introductory Psychology

PSY 300 – Research Methods in Psychology

Research Interests

My research interests and publications are eclectic. I combine scholarship from cognitive science, sociology, evolutionary psychology, philosophy of science, and philosophy of mind to study the origins, development, and maintenance of religious and nonreligious worldviews. In conjunction with several collaborators, my current research focuses on three areas: 1) Identifying and measuring components of nonreligious worldviews; 2) Computer simulated models of the cognitive processes and social dynamics leading to belief and nonbelief in supernatural agents; 3) Investigating how and why moral motivations are stereotypically attributed to religious, as opposed to nonreligious factors. 

Selected Publications

(These publications and others can be downloaded for personal use through my webpage at

Coleman, T. J., III, Bartlett, J. E., Holcombe, J. M., Swanson, S. B., Atkinson, A. R., Silver, C. F., & Hood, R. W. Jr., (in press). Absorption, Mentalizing, and Mysticism: Sensing the presence of the divine. Journal for the Cognitive Science of Religion.

Coleman, T. J. III., & Jong, J. (in press). Counting the Nonreligious: A critical survey of new measures. In A. L. Ai, K. A. Harris, and P. Wink (Eds.) Assessing spirituality and Religion in a Diversified World: Beyond Mainstream Perspective. Springer

Ambasciano, L. & Coleman, T. J. III. (2019). History as a Canceled Problem? Hilbert Lists, du Bois-Reymond’s Enigmas, and the Scientific Study of Religion. Journal for the American Academy of Religion. doi: 10.1093/jaarel/lfz001

Coleman, T. J. III, Jong, J., Van Mulukom, V. (2018). What are religious beliefs?. [editorial] Contemporary Pragmatism. (15) 3, pp. 279-283 doi:10.1163/18758185-01503001

Coleman, T.J. III, Hood, R. W. Jr., & Streib, H. (2018). An Introduction to Atheism, Agnosticism, & Non-Religious Worldviews. [editorial] Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. 10 (3) doi: 10.1037/rel0000213

Speed, D., Coleman, T. J. III, & Langston, J. (2018). What Do You Mean, “What Does It All Mean?” Atheism, Nonreligion, and Life Meaning. SAGE Open, 8(1), 215824401775423. doi: 10.1177/2158244017754238

Sevinç, K., Coleman, T. J. III, & Hood, R. W. Jr., (2018). Non-belief: An Islamic perspective. Secularism & Nonreligion. doi: 10.5334/snr.111

Arrowood, R. B., Coleman, T. J. III, Swanson, S. B., Hood, R. W. Jr., & Cox, C. R., (2018). Death, Quest, and Self-Esteem: Re-examining the role of self-esteem and religion following mortality salience. Religion, Brain & Behavior. doi: 10.1080/2153599X.2016.1238843

Langston, J., Speed, D., & Coleman, T. J. III. (2018). Predicting age of atheism: Credibility enhancing displays and religious importance, choice, and conflict in family upbringing. Religion, Brain & Behavior. doi: 10.1080/2153599X.2018.1502678

Coleman, T. J. III, Hood Jr., R., & Shook, J. (2015). An Introduction to Atheism, Secularity, and Science. [editorial] Science, Religion and Culture, 2(3), 1-14. doi: 10.17582/journal.src/2015/

Silver, C. F., Coleman, T. J. III, Hood, R. W. Jr., & Holcombe, J. M., (2014). The Six Types of Nonbelief: A qualitative and quantitative study of type and narrative. Mental Health, Religion & Culture. 17 (10), pp. 990-1001. doi: 10.1080/13674676.2014.987743

Coleman, T. J. III, Silver, C. F., & Holcombe, J. (2013). Focusing on Horizontal Transcendence: much more than a “non-belief”. Essays in The Philosophy of Humanism. 21 (2), pp. 1-18. doi: 10.1558/eph.v21i2.1