Science and religion

God and Man at University

{josquote}The authors conclude that it is not science, per se, that erodes belief, but an education grounded in post-modernist thought.{/josquote}

A new working paper published by the National Bureau for Economic Research in the US produces some interesting findings about religiosity and university education, among which is this:

Being a humanities or a social science major has a statistically significant negative effect on religiosity — measured by either religious attendance and how important students consider the importance of religion in their lives. The impact appears to be strongest in the social sciences [compared with the humanities and physical sciences]

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Follow-up comments by Barney Leith

Good God Talk on Evolution

Christianity Today has a magnificent interview with Francis Collins that exemplifies the Baha'i teaching of the harmony between religion and science. It's a long interview but definitely worth reading. As a social scientist in training I found this a refreshing and thoughtful discussion.

It begins with some background on Collins and then the interviewer asking a question and him responding:

The former director of the Human Genome Project, one of the most ambitious ventures in the history of science, Francis Collins recently launched the BioLogos Foundation, which "promotes the search for truth in both the natural and spiritual realms seeking harmony between these different perspectives." Collins gave a personal account of the harmony between faith and science in his book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, published in 2006. Karl Giberson spoke with Collins during a conference at Azusa Pacific University.

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Love and Marriage Go Together Like a Horse and Carriage - But Who Rides a Carriage Anymore?

In order to combat declining rates the American government is funding an advertising campaign to encourage young people to get married. This US Today article has quite a bit of interesting tidbits in it (including a funny little chart at the bottom of different young adult attitudes towards marriage. The general gist ought to be familiar if you’ve read this blog for a while - most young Americans want to get married, have pretty high expectations for the success of their future marriage, but feel frustrated about how to go about finding a partner. Major shifts in life-course trajectories, changing gender norms, and the emergence of ‘young adulthood’ as a viable developmental period are all culprits. The argument for doing this is pretty standard.

Research suggests a bevy of benefits for those who marry, including better health, greater wealth and more happiness for the couple, and improved well-being for children.

{josquote}...if you only live with one person and then eventually marry that person, you are significantly less likely to get a divorce than if you had never lived with them.{/josquote}

There is something else going on, though, and this article made me think of two papers I’ve seen recently, both of which add growing evidence to an argument that the link between marriage and happiness/health isn’t nearly as strong as it used to be. First, here is the abstract from the paper “The Times They Are a Changin': Marital Status and Health Differentials from 1972 to 2003” by Hui Liu and Debra Umberson which appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior:

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The Afterlife Hypothesis Tested

Pete Hulme

Is it just a question of faith?

An earlier post I made ended with a question: why should the existence or not of an afterlife matter to you if you don’t believe it, even if it matters to me who does. Why on earth should you consider believing what I believe?

Let’s see if we can make some progress on that one.

Some people believe there is an afterlife and I am now one of them, though it was one of the more difficult things I had to accept when I investigated the spiritual life. After all why should beings so imperfect have an immortal soul? We hardly seemed entitled to such a privilege. To be honest, as a former atheist, I found it easier to believe in God than in an immortal soul.

The Bahá’í Faith is clear on the issue:

The soul is not a combination of elements, it is not composed of many atoms, it is of one indivisible substance and therefore eternal. It is entirely out of the order of the physical creation; it is immortal!
(’Abdu’l-Bahá: Paris Talks: pages 90-91)

It is also clear that how we live now will affect the kind of afterlife we have. This is to do with how well we have fed our souls. When our spirit goes from the narrow womb of this world to the vast expanses of the next we will need all our spiritual faculties in the best possible order if we are to cope.

And just as, if human life in the womb were limited to that uterine world, existence there would be nonsensical, irrelevant — so too if the life of this world, the deeds here done and their fruitage, did not come forth in the world beyond, the whole process would be irrational and foolish.
(Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: No. 156)

I needed help with coming to terms with this improbable hypothesis and found it hard to take it simply on trust, though I did try.

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