Category Archives: religion

AP/NORC poll: Most religious Americans see a message from God in the coronavirus pandemic

In one way things haven’t changed since the Middle Ages: the onset of a pandemic leads people to search for a greater meaning, usually involving the wrath of a god. So, for instance, the Black Death was blamed on a lack of piety (penitentes arose), the perfidy of the Jews, and so on. Now, in […]

A world survey: Do we need God to be moral?

A new study by the Pew organization (click on screenshot below or get full pdf here) surveyed 38,436 people in 34 countries across the globe, asking them questions about how important God or religion is to them and—today’s topic)—do you really need God to be moral.  The methods included both face to face and phone […]

Has science made religion useless?

The Big Think seems obsessed with the relationship between science and religion.  I can’t think of how many posts I’ve done about their interviewees discussing this issue. The 14-minute video below features a number of prominent people weighing in on the question, “Has science made religion useless?” That’s a question different from, “Is there a […]

What is the value of theology?

Dan Barker, co-President of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, cleverly defined theology as a “subject without an object”.  That presupposes that there is no evidence for the “subject”: gods, prophets like Jesus, and so on, and I think most of us agree with that. So does the Oxford English Dictionary, which gives this as a […]

Pinker gets flak for tweeting about the “malignant delusion of the afterlife”, deletes tweet but defends himself here

I don’t really follow Twitter, but sometimes it makes news when a prominent person deletes a tweet, as when Nikole Hannah-Jones of the New York Times’s 1619 project deleted several tweets, including one drawing a distinction between being “politically black” and “racially black.” That made news, as did the tweet below issued about two weeks […]

Religion doesn’t improve society: more evidence

Religion is often touted as essential as a kind of secular glue, keeping society moral and empathic. Indeed, some say that even if there isn’t any evidence for a God, we should promote belief anyway because of its salutary side effects—the “spandrels” of belief. This “belief in belief” trope, as Dennett calls it, is counteracted […]

Nicholas Kristof still struggling about whether he’s a Christian; queries evasive evangelical writer

For some reason that I don’t understand, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has published column after column in which he asks theologians and other religionists about what they really believe. Do they believe Jesus was resurrected? Did he really perform miracles? As I wrote about his last column in April: For a long time, New […]

Young people continue to abandon religion in America

Nate Silver’s site FiveThirtyEight is famous for accurate election forecasts, though it ruined its record in 2016 by giving Hillary Clinton a 71% chance of winning. Well, to be fair, that was a close one, and at any rate today’s report is not about politics but religion. And it’s not even the site’s own poll, […]

Nick Spencer returns to defend religion in Prospect magazine

Does the ubiquity and supposed beneficial effect of religion constitute evidence for God? Well, at least one intellectual (and I use the term loosely) thinks so. Reader Michael sent me a link to Nick Spencer’s favorable review in Prospect of Stephen Asma’s 2018 book Why We Need Religion (click on screenshot below). Michael added this: “Maybe […]

New Pew survey shows that Americans are rapidly becoming less Christian and more secular

The Pew Organization conducted surveys for their Religious Landscape Studies in 2007 and 2014, assessing the religiosity, non-religiosity, beliefs, and churchgoing habits of Americans. They continued these surveys last year and this year, though on a more restricted scale. Nevertheless, the new Pew Survey, whose summary you can see by clicking on the screenshot below […]