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.