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

Ritual creates tribes…and tribalism

In a lot of ways religion is a Catch-22. It primes us to be strongly bonded to the people around us, which is one of the single biggest predictors of personal happiness, health, and life satisfaction. But the stronger our tribes get, the more outsiders look like enemies. The solution to this Catch-22 is to learn as much as we possibly can about religion, ritual, and their place in human life. Read more

Calling an End to the Culture Wars

Connor Wood argues that conservative and liberal thought are both invaluable: conservatives are experts on how to build and maintain small communities, while liberals focus best on big-picture and abstract problems. Do we need both to survive? Read more

Steven Pinker: Stop bashing religion. You’re hurting science.

If you force people to choose between traditional meaning and objective knowledge, they will choose meaning – and I don’t blame them. So, Dr. Pinker, please, get off your smug horse and stop bashing religion, spiritual beliefs, and traditions when advocating science. Our descendants will thank you. Read more

The “Religion vs. Creativity” Debate Rages On

Even in the most integrated, holistic community, where everyone shares the same basic cosmological assumptions, some people are going to be more willing to rock the boat and generate new ideas than others.…In a large-scale, cosmopolitan culture like our own, novelty-seekers don’t necessarily have an intact web of culture to keep them engaged, and they may be more likely to fall victim to the kinds of self-destructive behavior that tightly-knit communities work against: alcoholism, drug abuse, and reading Charles Bukowski. Read more

Social Capital (and Religion?) Helped the Spread of Nazism

Areas of Germany with high social integration and social capital saw a much quicker expansion of the Nazi party. What does this mean for religion? Read more

Why IS liberal Protestantism dying, anyway?

Liberal Protestant churches are losing members left and right, while conservative churches are doing just fine. But why? Connor Wood thinks it’s because liberal churches refuse to be strict, and refuse to demand real, costly investment from their members. Read more