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Posted inResearch

Atheists and the common good

Reading Time: 3 minutes Existing studies had shown that the religious were more likely to volunteer than the nonreligious. Religious individuals are thought to be selflessly devoting their time and energy to better the lives of people around them. Perhaps God is not merely good on an individual basis, but also good for society at large.

Dr. Penny Edgell and I were the first researchers to compare the specific patterns of volunteering that atheists and religious individuals demonstrate. Our argument was bulletproof: If religion promotes altruism, then atheists should have comparatively lower levels of volunteering.

Holy hell, were we in for a surprise.

Posted inReligion

Answering Dan Barker’s Easter Challenge

Reading Time: 7 minutes With Easter not far away, I thought it would be instructional to examine the Easter story in some detail, and how the four Gospels seem to contradict one another on crucial details, and whether the different accounts can be harmonized. This situation inspired Dan Barker, a former evangelical Christian preacher, to issue a challenge to […]

Posted inEconomics

Do Biden’s bank bailouts create a ‘moral hazard’?

Reading Time: 3 minutes The Biden administration is insisting its recently announced bailouts of two failed tech-focused banks—Silicon Valley (California) and Signature (New York)—is something else. But experts in previous government interventions to save failing financial institutions, notably those that crashed and burned in the infamous 2008 “Great Recession,” say that’s exactly what this is—a federal bailout. Neil Barofsky, […]

Posted inPsychology

Are you intelligent?

Reading Time: 4 minutes How do you know how intelligent you are? Is intelligence about amassing information or knowing what to do with the information you have? Is intelligence genetic, or can you learn it? How would you measure intelligence? Would you frame a series of questions you know you’ll smash because you have the necessary life experience to win? […]

Posted inReligion

The God of the seismologists

Reading Time: 3 minutes Natural tragedies naturally elicit religious questions. If there is a God, what kind of God permits death by earthquake, as we have seen recently in such catastrophic proportions in Turkey and Syria, with 50,000 dead? This question on suffering and the good God is ancient, but the question on earthquakes and the good God arose […]

Posted inCrime and Punishment

NXIVM: Why are we so endlessly in thrall to deadly cults?

Reading Time: 6 minutes They’re all of one twisted mind. Donald Trump. Scientology. People’s Temple. Branch Davidians. Heaven’s Gate. NXIVM. Every personality cult that ever existed. They all weaponize charisma, weaponize it ruthlessly against innocent people’s often fragile, vulnerable, gullible psyches. Without remorse. ‘The Vow’: A disquieting plunge into the abyss I reacquainted myself with the dangerous, routinely tragic […]

Posted inReligion

Interfaith work needs to include the nonreligious

Reading Time: 4 minutes New York mayor Eric Adams recently objected to the idea of the separation of church and state at an interfaith breakfast event at the New York Public Library. Library President and CEO Anthony Marx offered a welcome that celebrated libraries as places of inclusion, diversity, and freedom of thought. In his speech, the mayor acknowledged […]

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