Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Religion and Politics

Monday, May 9th, 2011 by JEL

How’s that for a combustible post title? Feeling a little feisty this morning, I thought I’d stir up the pot. I’m a little late to this piece from David Barash over at The Chronicle of Higher Education’s website. He did indeed publish it on April Fool’s Day, but he assures everyone there is at least some seriousness to his argument. Which is, devout people should be excluded from politics. There, the lightning is striking all over the place!

In response to a radio talk show caller who said “I don’t really care what religion [a presidential candidate] might be, I just want a president who prays,” Barash writes:

“But how about, instead, a president who reads: briefing papers, and maybe some detailed, complex, and even occasionally contradictory and nuanced analyses of alternative courses of action and their likely consequences? Someone whose views are reason and reality-based, founded on good, hard thought instead of theological doctrine? Instead of someone who prays, what about someone who thinks?”

Perhaps the two sides are not mutually exclusive?

Morality and Religion

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010 by JEL

There’s a new article in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences that explores the link (and distinctions) between morality and religion. As Dr. Marc Hauser, one of the authors of the article, says:

“For some, there is no morality without religion, while others see religion as merely one way of expressing one’s moral intuitions.”

For years, the debate surrounding the origins of religion has been split into two camps. One camp believes that religion evolved as a way for non-related individuals to cooperate and live together. The other thinks religion emerged as a “by-product of pre-existing cognitive capacities.”

Dr. Hauser and co-author Dr. Ilkka Pyysiainen reviewed a number of moral psychology studies and found that people of varying religious backgrounds (including no religious background) showed no difference in making moral judgements. In other words, people knew the basics of right and wrong intuitively and were making their moral decisions independent of religious affiliation (or lack thereof).

The good doctors claim that this research supports the-religion-as-a-by-product camp, though I admit much of their argument goes swooping over my head. You can read their full article here.

Searching for Religion

Thursday, January 28th, 2010 by JEL

People search for religion in many ways. They sample different neighborhood churches. They survey friends and try to find some overlap. They read books. And think. And, I guess, they also use the Internet. It’s hard to imagine looking for life meaning in the search box at Google or Yahoo!, but there are advertisers betting their dollars that some people will.

I was on Yahoo! News earlier today, poking through the news, feeling sad about Howard Zinn and J.D. Salinger, and almost randomly typed in “religion” in the box. I wasn’t interested in the natural search results, but instead, the sponsored (paid for) results. They were:

I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting clip art. The last one is very mysterious. It takes you to a site called Jesus 2020 and I’m not sure to what the year refers. The whole goal seemed to get you to click the big yellow “YES” button. I did not. The copyright belongs to “Global Media Outreach” which sounds kind of scary.

A New Religion?

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 by JEL

Black Sabbath. Iron Maiden. Metallica. Judas Priest. Motorhead. Saxon. Do these names mean anything to you? Could you perhaps find them in your CD collection? Then you finally might have the outlet you’ve been searching for.

The UK, like the US, is currently conducting their nationwide census. Rock magazine Metal Hammer has launched a campaign encouraging devotees of the music genre to enter “heavy metal” as their religion in the census. Their Facebook fan page already has 10,000 followers. Please note the category of this post before registering any alarm.