Institutional religion needs institutions

It is a common assertion to state Christianity helped maintain the continuity of Classical civilization down to the Medieval era, through the “Dark Age” of Europe after the Fall of Rome. A more extreme position is that Christianity was a necessary condition for the maintenance of this civilizational tradition. I recall once reading an alternative […] Continue reading

The Fellowship Instinct

Religiosity is moderately heritable—25 to 45% according to twin studies (Bouchard, 2004; Lewis and Bates, 2013). These figures are of course underestimates, since any noise in the data gets classified as ‘non-genetic’ variability. So the estimates would be higher if we could measure religiosity better. But what does it mean to be religious? Does it […] Continue reading

Moderate Muslims are moderate in some things

Bangladesh bloggers: Clear pattern to killings: Since then, the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appears to have reached an accommodation with Hefajat. The Islamist group has confined itself to the madrassa premises and the government has put five bloggers in jail for allegedly hurting the religious feelings of Muslims. The government now appears to […] Continue reading

Religious freedom is an illusion, and Christians shall bow

One of the most influential books for me in trying to understand how the American system has operated in relation to “religious freedom” is Winnifred Fallers Sullivan’s The Impossibility of Religious Freedom. A lawyer, she recounts how the legal framework of balancing religious freedom and the conformity to law expected by the state arose in […] Continue reading

God is an effect, not the first cause

One of the first things that the author of 2002′s Religion Explained had to address is the fact that everyone thinks they have the “explanation” for religion. Unlike quantum physics, or even population genetics, people think they “get” religion, and have a pretty good intuition and understanding of the phenomenon with any scholarly inquiry. Most […] Continue reading

What is Europe’s anti-Semitism problem about?

In Slate, Europe Has a Serious Anti-Semitism Problem, and It’s Not All About Israel: A recent Anti-Defamation League survey found that 24 percent of the French population and 21 percent of the German population harbor some anti-Semitic attitudes. A recent study of anti-Semitic letters received by Germany’s main Jewish organization found that 60 percent of the hate mail came from […] Continue reading

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