We are all teachers. Or at least we should be.

Internet comments and opinion pieces show that we’re all pretty impatient with those who disagree with us. But if we as a culture are going to begin to solve our problems, rather than merely sit around feeling superior to those who are trying to solve them badly, we are going to have to forget about just respecting one another. Instead, we are going to have to become teachers. Read more

Religion makes you prejudiced. God doesn’t.

Some kinds of religious priming makes people more prejudiced against minorities. Others seem to make people LESS prejudiced. What gives? New research from the University of Illinois suggests that the difference might be between God and religion. Read more

What’s the Point of the Humanities? A Response to Pinker and Wieseltier

Science is sexy, confident, and universally adored—the star quarterback of our intellectual culture. But the glamour of science is largely due to the technological power it produces, and power is not an intrinsic good—it is only good when it is tempered by wisdom and wielded to achieve noble ends. This is why we should value the humanities. Read more

Russell Brand is wrong about Western religions

What Brand forgets – or, more likely, has never learned, because no one teaches this stuff in school – is that tradition, religion, and culture are humanity’s most basic biological and cultural tools for achieving balanced relationships between and within societies. As linguistic and cultural animals, we require conventions, continuity, and tradition in order not only to make sense of the world, but to to fine-tune all aspects of our relationship to it. Read more

Trust issues? The answer might be rhythm

Why do religions have rituals like bowing or praying in time with a group? Recent research from New Zealand shows that moving or chanting in sync helps people act more generously – especially if they’ve worked hard to stay in time with each other. Read more

A friendly reminder: Science isn’t reality. Reality is reality.

The complementary opposite of science isn’t religion, but embodiment. Despite their incredible effectiveness, scientific models and ideas are not reality. Only reality is reality. So stop trying to capture the entire world with theories, and get in your body instead. Read more

Why Are There Atheists?

Certain aspects of personality orientation may naturally lead some people to religious belief and others to nonbelief; compared with religious believers atheists tend to be less social, more individualistic, and less socially conforming. At the same time, atheists’ characteristic suspicion of authority and skepticism of tradition may make them the natural choice for producing novel and creative solutions to problems. Read more

Civil Religion: It’s What America Needs

As political battles reach new heights, and the fabric of the nation seems stretched to its breaking point, civic religion – responsible, earnest, and humble, fully aware of our tarnished history – might be exactly what we need. Read more

Why conservatives hate Obamacare

Conservatives worry that offloading social responsibilities to an impersonal, systemic platform will corrode the collective bonds of daily, local life. But they aren’t very good at expressing this fear, and progressives aren’t very good at understanding it. Read more

Ritual reduces life’s noise-to-signal ratio

Our world is filled with unspoken social conventions that transform messy, continuous information into clearer, binary data. Ritual is one of them. Anthropologist Roy Rappaport claimed that ritual, the “cybernetics of the holy,” simplifies and streamlines social information so that there’s less noise in the signal of culture. Read more

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