Thursday, April 16, 2009

Religion and the brain

Michael Gerson reviews research on the interaction of religion and the brain here.

This study is the most balanced I have yet seen. The author of the study is himself a skeptic, but admits that his research does not disprove the reality of religious experience. Neither does it prove it. How you interpret the findings will undoubtedly be influenced greatly by whether or not you are already religious.

I am just always happy when a skeptical scientist if honest enough to admit that science isn't the end-all of truth. I'll admit it about religious truth, glad to have a reciprocation.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Religion in the public square

There is an interesting point in this article. The authors argue that one of the primary reasons that religion flourished in the United States is that the first amendment introduced competition into the religious community. By removing from the church the explicit support of the state, the constitution force the church to compete amongst itself for people.

This puts a very different spin on the classic complaint about American Christianity: that the variety of denominations is a bad thing by definition. I would contend, in light of Micklethwait and Wooldridge's argument, that this very competition has been the lifeblood of Christianity in America.

Not to say that it is all good. It is one thing to compete as compatriots; it is another to undermine other churches in the pursuit of growth. But to the extent that churches have simply sought for the best way to reach people (both believers and non-believers) then I say - compete on. Just remember, in the end, we're all on the same side.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Tomorrow is the inauguration of our new President, Barack Obama. I am honored and overwhelmed that I live in a country where a transition in power is invariably accomplished without violence. Even though I did not vote for him, beginning tomorrow he is my president, and I will pray for him with the same fervor that I have for those I supported. And it is my supreme desire that he be remembered through history as a great president, for his successes and failure will impact my lives, and the lives of nearly every person on the planet.

Good luck, President Obama.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Earth Hour

Apparently, this March 29 has been set aside by the global warming (or is it "climate change") alarmists for the "Earth Hour". The plan, as I understand it, is for everyone to turn off their lights for one hour (from 8-9 pm) to symbolize that we all can make a difference (if you want to read more, you can read it here).

Of course, turning off our lights for an hour does nothing of the sort. Moving out of the city, and choosing to live without electricity, farming instead of purchasing; these might make a difference. But probably not, as China, India, and some day Africa will more than happily use the resources you give up.

Besides, I am convinced that this is all alarmist hoo-hah. So I propose a different action during Earth Hour. I am going to turn on all the lights at my house, run whatever climate control system is appropriate at maximum comfort levels, and generally use as many resources as I can. My point is to show that one hour of behavior modification is meaningless. No one will notice my action, just like the actions of all the Earth Hour sillies will go unnoticed.

Anyone want to join me?