Posts Tagged ‘religion’

“Jedi” Religion Most Popular Alternative Faith In England

December 12th, 2012 12:57 admin View Comments

United Kingdom

Census numbers show that 176,632 people in England and Wales ask themselves, “What would Yoda do?” Although the number of people who list their religion as “Jedi” has dropped by more than 50% in the past 10 years, It remains the most popular “alternative” faith in England. From the article: “The new figures reveal that the lightsabre-wielding disciples are only behind Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Buddhism in the popularity stakes, excluding non-religious people and people who did not answer.”

Source: “Jedi” Religion Most Popular Alternative Faith In England

Dr. Richard Dawkins On Education, ‘Innocence of Muslims,’ and Rep. Paul Broun

October 25th, 2012 10:20 admin View Comments


In this video interview (with transcript), Dr. Richard Dawkins discusses religious exceptionalism with regard to the teaching of evolution, and the chilling effect of fundamentalism on the production of scientists and engineers. He says, “I can think of no other reason why, of all the scientific facts that people might disagree with or disbelieve, [evolution] is the one they pick on. Physics gets through OK. Chemistry gets through Ok. But not biology/geology, and I think it’s got to be because of religion.” He also addresses the recent comments from Rep. Paul Broun, who denounced evolution and the Big Bang theory as “lies straight from the pit of hell,” and the recent Innocence of Muslims video that led to unrest in various parts of the world. “Freedom of speech is something that Islamic theocracies simply do not understand. They don’t get it. They’re so used to living in a theocracy, that they presume that if a film is released in the United States, the United States Government must be behind it! How could it be otherwise? So, they need to be educated that, actually, some countries do have freedom of speech and government is not responsible for what any idiot may do in the way of making a video.” He also has some very insightful comments about religion as one of the most arbitrary labels by which people divide themselves when involved in conflict. Hit the link below for the video.

Source: Dr. Richard Dawkins On Education, ‘Innocence of Muslims,’ and Rep. Paul Broun

Ask Richard Dawkins About Evolution, Religion, and Science Education

October 18th, 2012 10:13 admin View Comments


Richard Dawkins is an author and an evolutionary biologist. For 13 years, he held the Simonyi Professorship at the University of Oxford. His 1976 book The Selfish Gene helped popularize the gene-centric view of evolution and coined the word “meme.” Several other of his books, including Climbing Mount Improbable, River Out of Eden, and The Greatest Show on Earth have helped to explain aspects of evolution in a way non-scientists can more easily understand. Dawkins is a frequent opponent of creationism and intelligent design, and he generated widespread controversy and debate in 2006 with The God Delusion, a book that subjected common religious beliefs to unyielding scientific scrutiny. He wrote, “One of the truly bad effects of religion is that it teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.” Most recently, Dawkins wrote The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True, a graphic book that aims to introduce kids to science. He’s also recently begun a video series titled “Sex, Death, and the Meaning of Life” about how our world would look without religion. Mr. Dawkins has graciously agreed to answer some questions for us. Post your suggestions in the comments below, but please limit yourself to one question per post. We’ll post his responses sometime next week.

Source: Ask Richard Dawkins About Evolution, Religion, and Science Education

Einstein Letter Critical of Religion To Be Auctioned On EBay

October 14th, 2012 10:03 admin View Comments


cheesecake23 writes “In an admirably concise piece in The Atlantic, Rebecca J. Rosen summarizes Einstein’s subtle views on religion and profound respect for the inexplicable, along with the news that a letter handwritten by the legendary scientist that describes the Bible as a ‘collection of honorable, but still primitive legends’ and ‘pretty childish’ will be auctioned off on eBay over the next two weeks. Bidding will begin at $3 million.”

Source: Einstein Letter Critical of Religion To Be Auctioned On EBay

Belief In Hell Predicts a Country’s Crime Rates Better Than Other Factors

June 19th, 2012 06:17 admin View Comments


An anonymous reader writes “Religion is often thought of as psychological defense against bad behavior, but researchers have recently found that the effect of religion on pro-social behaviors may actually be driven by the belief in hell and supernatural punishment rather than faith in heaven and spiritual benevolence. In a large analysis of 26 years of data consisting of 143,197 people in 67 countries, psychologists found significantly lower crime rates in societies where many people believe in hell compared to those where more people believed in heaven.”

Source: Belief In Hell Predicts a Country’s Crime Rates Better Than Other Factors

No, Folks, File Sharing is Not a Religion

May 10th, 2012 05:01 admin View Comments

The U.S. Constitution, enacted in 1787, guarantees freedom of religion for its citizens. Sweden’s Constitution Act, passed in 1974, grants the same freedom, but having been ratified in the electronic age, explicitly extends the right to express that freedom in “transmissions” and “recordings.” Now a Swedish group is trying to take advantage of the law by declaring file sharing a religion and seeking legal safe harbor by declaring copyright violation a sacrament. 

I’m a frequent contributor to the C.S.T. program on Colombia’s news channel NTN24; and yesterday, my producer there asked me to contribute a comment on the subject of the Church of Kopimism.  To be completely honest with everyone, I had not heard of it before she shared a link.

The Web site of the international headquarters for the church (kopimistsamfundet) explains the loophole it attempts to exploit this way: Since illicit file sharing may be, in at least one sense, a transgression, the transmission of the knowledge of that transgression may be, at one level, a confession. Thus if the operators of the services receiving such confessions treat them with absolute secrecy (I suppose not all information wants to be free), then those operators are entitled to special protection under Swedish law as priests.

If you’re thinking what I was thinking… well, first of all, shame on you.  Second, someone did try to obtain priestly protection for, um, that too, to no avail.

Interior of the Church of St. Petri, Malmo, Sweden I could stop here and say, “Well, isn’t that just ridiculous” and move on to the next thing to ridicule.  But my NTN24 producer knew my background on the blending of technology and religion, and asked me to take it one step further. So I wrote the following few paragraphs, in an essay I presented for C.S.T. host Mónica Fonseca this morning:

First, briefly, allow me to speak as someone involved in the information technology field:  There is nothing about copyright violation that can be cleansed and purified by declaring it a religion. I could go next door right now and saw down my neighbor’s trees. If I tell the police I did this in the act of spiritual revelation, that does not somehow make it legal or even right.

As someone who has learned a few things about the law as a journalist, I can say this: In the United States and Canada, and most other countries I can name, you can’t just declare yourself a religion for tax purposes.

Most important – and I hope your viewers will permit me to do this – I should like to speak as a Christian. I find it sad that any group of people should find it necessary to desecrate the beliefs of millions, including myself, simply to justify, in their own minds, a guilty obsession. The Church of Kopimism declares the act of copying and redistributing digital information to be sacrament. If indeed the distribution of digital information is holy, then I would make it my life’s mission to make certain that every act of transmission I made was infused with only the purest wisdom and the greatest knowledge. Somehow, I suspect that what the Kopimists spend their time copying is something less than revelation.

True religion, I believe, should be that which gives you strength and wisdom and power when all else fails. At this moment, there are thousands of Colombians who remain homeless after the waves of devastating floods took all their possessions and some of their family. I sincerely doubt that any of these people today are praying for the return of Megaupload to save them from their misery. Praying for them should not require electricity. God is the source of all power when every other source has failed. I would hate to have to depend for my personal strength upon any power source that a human being or an act of nature can turn off.

Cathedral image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Source: No, Folks, File Sharing is Not a Religion

Filesharing Now an Official Religion In Sweden

January 4th, 2012 01:43 admin View Comments


bs0d3 writes Kopimism is now an official religion in Sweden. Kopimi beliefs originated with the Swedish group called Piratbyran who believed that everything should be shared freely online without restrictions from copyright. Leader Isak Gerson, has recently had some disagreements with the Swedish Pirate Party where many people disagree with all religions.” Here’s the official website for the “Missionary Church of Kopimism.”

Source: Filesharing Now an Official Religion In Sweden

Amazon Patents Deducing Religion From Gift Wrap

December 25th, 2011 12:36 admin View Comments

Christmas Cheer

theodp writes “If you’re the giver or recipient of presents gift-wrapped by Amazon, you may want to take a gander at U.S. Patent No. 8,060,463, granted to Amazon last month for Mining of User Event Data to Identify Users with Common Interests. Among other things, Amazon explains the invention can be used to identify recipients of gifts as Christian or Jewish based on wrapping paper. From the patent: ‘The gift wrap used by such other users when purchasing gifts for this user, such as when the gift wrap evidences the user’s religion (in the case of Christmas or Hanukkah gift wrap, for example.)’”

Source: Amazon Patents Deducing Religion From Gift Wrap

Technology in Real Life: In Praise of the “C” Word

December 25th, 2011 12:15 admin View Comments

Christ child by DLJ (150 px).jpgYou should write more what you feel, I’ve been told. Be more open about yourself, Scott. If you want to engage people, to build a community, to get people talking in comments, and bring more people into your social circle, you need to be more open, more accessible, more of a personality. Show people your soft side, your heart. What do you really believe, Scott M. Fulton, III, besides your insistence on using Roman numerals in your name? You talk about issues that have six or seven sides to them, but you don’t tell people where you stand. How do you expect people to engage with you if you don’t engage with them?

Well, okay, if you insist. I am a Christian.

The first chance you get, you go there?

This is the most personally identifiable information in our portfolio that we don’t often share with one another, the part that some people say defines who they are, the part that classifies what it is we believe. To be fair, religion is the most divisive issue of our time. So perhaps the reason we tend to withdraw that element of ourselves from the public discourse is for fear that we may alienate ourselves from the rest of the world. We do want to be mindful of others’ feelings.

Another reason is because religion unto itself is too often cast as something foreign to rational thinking, as something antiquated, outmoded, unrelated to a society geared more towards technology, science, and the realm of evident fact. In a world of cause and effect, some say, there should be an inviolable bond between what we observe and what we know. If we have not observed it, Carl Sagan once explained, we should not claim to know it.

Put another way, all faith is silly. During NPR’s eulogy last week for the outspoken atheist Christopher Hitchens, the point was made that he could not be forced to believe in anything supernatural. The idea that everything can be made explicable, that it can be translated into something our minds can accept as rational, and that nothing supernatural exists, has become an ideal claimed by individuals who disclaim the existence of God – who say that fact denies faith.

This is the fundamental class division from which the whole discussion of reality tends to break down. It may be the entire reason so many of us refrain from wearing our religion on our sleeves. The thought of accepting something as real that we cannot explain, seems about as sane, sober, and rational as clapping to show you believe in fairies and making Tinker-bell glow.

And yet this is the fallacy about faith that I’m afraid Hitchens never came to realize as a fallacy: that faith is contrary to knowledge. Or, borrowing Douglas Adams’ beautiful treatise from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, if proof denies faith, then soon God disappears in a puff of logic. I have absolute faith that everything Christ has demonstrated, including what that does not appear to lend itself to an absolute cause, can, and eventually will, be explained in a manner that renders it undeniably natural. I too do not believe in the supernatural. I do believe in the unknown, but not the unknowable.

Well then, say some of my friends, you’re not really a Christian. My response to that is a little roundabout, so I beg your indulgence.

Kingdom of Christ (corrected).JPG

Faith is the new proof

Earlier this month, researchers at the CERN laboratory in Switzerland announced their progress toward the discovery, and eventual confirmation, of the existence of a subatomic particle called the Higgs boson – and which Web headlines characterize as the “God Particle.” Folks have lost track of how it got that nickname in the first place. The boson is the category of subatomic matter to which the photon (light) also belongs; and the idea that a boson of some sort exists with the properties of the theoretical Higgs (H0) was theorized before anyone came up with a theory for why it might exist in the first place. This was because the characteristics of particles that have been observed (or, more accurately, whose side-effects validate that only certain particles with these expected characteristics could be the cause) could be arranged on a chart with certain perfect symmetries. H0 would fit on this chart in a way that completes the symmetry.

The demonstrations revealed figures that were generally consistent with what scientists were expecting – evidence of interactions that could be attributed to the presence of H0, though possibly to something else. I watched this feed from CERN while keeping one eye on a running feed of tweets from observers. Many of these folks were shocked, and a few even openly disgusted, with the idea that researchers could appear so excited about the evidence they uncovered, while being unable to conclusively announce that H0 had been observed. What were these people smoking, one tweeter asked? How could anyone be so excited by mere side-effects in the absence of facts?

The answer, for me, is simple. The evolution of science has come full circle. Only to a very limited extent is it possible to state with scientific certainty that something exists or does not exist. Ever since quantum theory, and especially the contribution of Werner Heisenberg, we are only capable of making certain statements in terms of probability. And with respect to the causes of those things which are only probable rather than factual, we can only render as speculation.

And that speculation seems fanciful, whimsical, often bizarre. The Higgs boson theory speaks of an exclusive level of interaction between things that are neither particles nor waves, but whose by-products are mass, which we then attribute to things through a process that was once considered absolute association, but which may in reality be coincidence. No single explanation of what might be going on appears, on the surface, to sound anything less than supernatural.

Yet we know this cannot be truth – that at some level, at some eventual state we may inevitably discover, everything we see now can and will be explained. Science has come around, absorbing as an active ingredient that which some still claim to be a foreign object: Science has embraced faith.

Faith is the understanding that we can know what we cannot yet explain. And since physics will always be vital to how we empower our future generations, we will need to incorporate faith for us to incorporate what we perceive, without the words to define it yet, as knowledge. Faith takes many paths. But all paths have a common symmetry, something that gives them variety and yet leads them to the same point. While faith may be the thing that appears to divide us, it may yet bridge the gaps between us. And while there may never be a common starting point toward faith, I believe Christ has taught us that any starting point one chooses may lead to that greater goal.

My starting point begins like this: I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord. And like every other train of thought I get lost on, it goes on forever and ever.

Painting: “Kingdom of Christ” by Maria DeLaJuen, approx. 1986

Source: Technology in Real Life: In Praise of the “C” Word

Science and Religion Can and Do Mix, Mostly

September 28th, 2011 09:34 admin View Comments


coondoggie writes “An interesting study by Rice University recently found that in one of the one of the more voracious social (and increasingly political) battlegrounds, science v. religion there is more common ground that most folks believe. In fact, according to the study, only 15% of scientists at major US research universities see religion and science as always in conflict.”

Source: Science and Religion Can and Do Mix, Mostly