New York Times Asks: Should Atheists Pray?

Now that we’re seeing a rise in godless congregations, the New York Times asked some people whether atheists should pray, what the point of prayer is, and whether it’s beneficial.

One of the panelists happened to be me.

Another panelist happened to be Deepak Chopra.

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On Twitter, Atheists Swear a Lot More Than Christians Do

I recently posted about a study done by University of Illinois psychologist Ryan Ritter (published in Social Psychological and Personality Science) in which his team compared atheists and Christians on Twitter to discern any differences. You can see my analysis of the paper here.

One of the visuals I mentioned was this one:

I thought that was fascinating. According to the graphic, Christians used the word “know” 211 times per 100,000 words, compared to 198 times per 100,000 words for atheists. Meanwhile, atheists used “thought” more than Christians did (59 times per 100,000 words compared to 44 times per 100,000 words, respectively).

We don’t have context for those words, but it’s interesting to consider why this might be the case. (More on that in a moment!)

Ritter has now created visualizations allowing us to see where there are other language differences between the two groups, and these are even more entertaining than the previous image.

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Jessica Ahlquist Talks About the Support from the Atheist Community

Jessica Ahlquist recently filmed a segment for Chris Johnson‘s multimedia book about atheists and what gives them joy and meaning in life.

In the segment below, she talks about the time she went from her school where she was picked on for being a vocal atheist to the Reason Rally where she was admired for the exact same trait:

(via The Atheist Book) [Read more...]

In Anticipation of the Next Natural Disaster…

(In response to this article) [Read more...]

Girl Slaves of Catholic Magdalene Asylums to Receive Compensation, but Not from the Church

Twenty years ago, shock washed over Ireland. After the Catholic Church sold a parcel of a North Dublin convent’s grounds to a commercial developer, and the construction dig began, 155 bodies were discovered in unmarked graves. The place had been a Magdalene asylum for “wayward girls.” Apparently, inmates who met an early end had been buried in secret — many without a death certificate, without notification of parents or other family, and all without the dignity of even the simplest grave marker.

Initially conceived as rehabilitation centers for prostitutes, the Magdalene asylums — also known as the Magdalene Laundries for the “women’s work” slave labor expected of the inhabitants — eventually grew into houses of horror. The girls, some not even teens, were forced to work seven days a week, without pay. The short-term treatment intended by the founders eventually gave way to long-term incarceration. Though conditions varied from one asylum to the next, a strict code of silence was in place for most of the day throughout the Magdalene system. Long prayer sessions were mandatory.

Worse, for over a hundred years, beatings and sexual abuse are thought to have been endemic.

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