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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connor Wood thinks we should always be humble about what we believe – even if we’re experts. The history of science shows why. Read more

New research shows that intense rituals can forge strong tribal identities – but also help people overcome tribal barriers. How does this affect our modern attitude toward religion? Read more

Last week, Connor Wood claimed that religion and creativity were often incompatible. In response to dozens of critiques and comments, this post picks apart the argument further and, data in hand, supports the original claim – with some qualifications. Read more

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