Archive for the ‘Religion/ Spirituality’ Category

St Augustine, Harry Potter and the definition of evil

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I found this amazing lecture while researching the issue of the church and pop culture for my college small group.


Written by neehi

July 26, 2010 at 8:12 pm

God of the Gaps

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I’d go to this guy’s church every Sunday AND Friday nights.

I like how he speaks like a minister….how he was “called” to do what he does, how he “did not have a choice”….using the same language as people who claim to be called by God to religious service.

I have read articles that there is a ‘God gene’ sort of thing where parts of the brain in certain individuals get more activity, response (and reward?) with religious thought that is akin to the activity that occurs in the brain of a drug user.  Some people are simply wired to think and feel about God more than others.  So I think that part of the brain  in De Grasse Tyson would be shooting off fireworks when he thinks about science and the cosmos.  I hope someone DOES do that experiment on him.  I feel similar….an excitement or almost religious fervor where you want to share this amazing information with others.  I guess I am hardwired like my mother after all!

I’m sure Neil has his critics, but I do love what he does for bringing science to the public at large.  He does a good job at breaking down barriers and prejudices…stating how even the most brilliant minds in the world went to “Creative Design” when they ran out of explanations…, don’t call your mother an idiot when she does it.   : D

Written by alisap

July 11, 2010 at 9:36 am

Washing Away Sins – Whether You Know it or Not

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I am intrigued by the pervasive practice of baptism and ritual purity throughout religious history, around the world.

Before the Christian baptism that remains popular in Western culture there were ancient Babylonian and Egyptian baptism practices.  The Greek Mystery religions included baptismal rites.  For Judaism and Islam ritual cleansing has historically been of great importance as is the case with Hindu praxis as well.  A new study, however, appears to demonstrate that the psychological benefits of washing can effect an individual even when they are not consciously performing a ritual cleansing.

Spike W. S. Lee, a psychology researcher at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and his partner Norbert Schwarz devised a test in which they lead individuals participating in the study to make a decision the participant would not be happy with.  Following the decision some of the subjects washed their hands, while others did not.  The majority of those who washed their hands exhibited behavior that suggested they were at peace with having chosen something they did not like, whereas those who did not wash exhibited the expected behavior of justifying their negative choice.

The researchers admit that there are a lot of questions still to be explored in the study, but the initial results suggest that even when the cleansing is not done as a conscious act of washing away mistakes, people enjoy the psychological benefit of the ritual.

For more details on the study, check out  Nell Greenfieldboyce’s  report at

Written by Aaron Nee

May 7, 2010 at 9:57 am

Televised Evening With The Dead

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A while back Derren Brown hosted a televised séance on the UK’s Channel 4.  Unfortunately for those of us in the US, Channel 4’s content can be hard to come by.  Most of the time we have to hope someone will post the show on YouTube or Google Video.  Lucky for us, someone has done just that.  Derren Brown’s séance is available to view in its entirety on YouTube, so catch it before it is removed.

An outspoken skeptic of all things paranormal, Brown has on more than one occasion recreated miracles and psychic wonders using, “Psychology, misdirection, magic and showmanship.”  Despite stating openly that he was using psychological manipulation, cold reading and other trickery, the séance participants managed to get royally spooked, as did viewers who called into the show testifying to paranormal happenings in their home while watching the séance.

In the tradition of master magician James Randi, Derren Brown uses his skills to demonstrate how the frauds work their wonders, or at least shows that the marvels can be recreated without appear to the supernatural.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Written by Aaron Nee

April 21, 2010 at 1:20 pm

The Politics of Homosexuality

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At a Princeton Lecture event Andrew Sullivan,  author and former editor of The New Republic, reprised his article, “The Polotics of Homosexuality”.  The Nation called Sullivan’s article “the most influential article of the decade on gay rights.” Sullivan has written numerous popular books and articles on the subject of homosexuality and gay rights.  As a very thoughtful, articulate, openly gay, Roman Catholic conservative, Andrew brings an interesting perspective to the contemporary conversation on homosexuality.

The lecture is well worth a listen.

George F. R. Ellis on science, ethics, and more

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One of the few things that comes close to the inspiration of sitting back and gazing at the stars above is sitting back and listening to a cosmologist talk about the same.  Earlier today I came across the marvelous George F. R. Ellis speaking at the 2008 Legacy of Einstein event.  Ellis’ views on the universe and ethics is thought provoking to say the least.

We’ve linked to George Ellis content in the past and I am happy to have come across more Ellis audio on the web.  Enjoy.

Written by Aaron Nee

March 6, 2010 at 1:35 am

James Dobson admits the so-far defeat of the Religious Right

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This article and the next couple I’m going to post are especially interesting when considered together.

This is my first post… I’ve been meaning to start, but have been forgetting. Hope I’m doing it right.

Written by mnjhunt

April 13, 2009 at 9:47 pm