The Hidden Costs of Automated Thinking | The New YorkerTaken in isolation, oracular answers can generate consistently helpful results. But these systems won’t stay in isolation: as A.I.s gather and ingest the world’s data, they’ll produce data of their own—much of which will be taken up by still other systems. Just as drugs with unknown mechanisms of action sometimes interact, so, too, will debt-laden algorithms.
Sociologists study the impact religion has on child development -- ScienceDailyThey found that third-graders' psychological adjustment and social competence were positively correlated with various religious factors. However, students' performance on reading, math, and science tests were negatively associated with several forms of parental religiosity. The findings suggest that parental religiosity is a mixed blessing that produces significant gains in social psychological development among third-graders while potentially undermining academic performance, particularly in math and science. "Religion emphasizes moral codes designed to instill values such as self-control and social competence," said Bartkowski. "Religious groups' prioritization of these soft skills may come at the expense of academic performance, which is generally diminished for youngsters raised in religious homes when compared with their non-religious peers."
from religion to science, faith to progressSeduced by scientism, distracted by materialism, insulated, like no humans before us, from the vicissitudes of sickness and the ubiquity of early death, the post-Christian West believes instead in something we have called progress — a gradual ascent of mankind toward reason, peace, and prosperity — as a substitute in many ways for our previous monotheism. We have constructed a capitalist system that turns individual selfishness into a collective asset and showers us with earthly goods; we have leveraged science for our own health and comfort. Our ability to extend this material bonanza to more and more people is how we define progress; and progress is what we call meaning. In this respect, Steven Pinker is one of the most religious writers I’ve ever admired. His faith in reason is as complete as any fundamentalist’s belief in God.
Silent Sam at UNC | more arrests after protests | News & ObserverThe Alamance County group discouraged trouble among its members, according to a post on its Facebook page. “We hope and pray for a peaceful and honorable service tomorrow,” the post said. “That being said, there will be a large amount of devilish and ungodly opposition.”
Ask Unorthodox: What Should I Call Really Religious Jews? – Tablet MagazineWhat, then, about haredim? The Hebrew word is lifted from Isaiah, chapter 66: “Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word.” The haredim, then, are those who tremble. In Israel, the word is mainly used by secular Jews to describe their more observant neighbors. It’s not always meant kindly, although the community itself seems to have adopted it, naming one of its leading news sites Behadrei Haredim, or in the rooms of the haredim. So is that word OK? Not really, Shafran replied. “I’m not fond of the word,” he said. “Firstly, it implies that non-haredim are less observant, which isn’t necessarily true. And secondly, while we may shuckle when we daven, we don’t generally tremble (unless the IRS is auditing us).” What word, then? What term to use? “Personally,” said Shafran, “I prefer ‘Orthodox.’ Let prefixes be used by others: centrist, modern, ultra-modern. We’re the original, in no need of a prefix.” Amen to that. And to all our friends, Orthodox and unorthodox alike, Shabbat Shalom.
This is why white evangelicals still support Donald Trump. (It’s not economic anxiety.) - The Washington PostRank-and-file white evangelicals have the most negative attitudes toward immigrants of all U.S. religious groups. That’s true despite the fact that conservative white evangelical leaders strongly favor a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. My research indicates white evangelical conservatism correlates strongly with their perceptions anti-white discrimination, even after taking into account economic status, party, age and region. Fully 50 percent of white evangelical respondents to our 2016 survey reported feeling they face discrimination that’s comparable to, or even higher than, the discrimination they believe Muslim Americans face. Those who hold this perception are more likely to hold conservative attitudes on issues as wide-ranging as climate change, tax policy and health-care reform.
Panpsychism: The idea that everything from spoons to stones are conscious is gaining academic credibility — QuartzConsciousness is a fundamental feature of physical matter; every single particle in existence has an “unimaginably simple” form of consciousness, says Goff. These particles then come together to form more complex forms of consciousness, such as humans’ subjective experiences. This isn’t meant to imply that particles have a coherent worldview or actively think, merely that there’s some inherent subjective experience of consciousness in even the tiniest particle.
Recentering the universeIt was this hierarchy—so central to Western cosmology for so long that, even today, a ten-year-old could intuitively get much of it right—that was challenged by the most famous compendium of all: Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert’s eighteen-thousand-page Encyclopédie. Published between 1751 and 1772, the Encyclopédie was sponsored by neither the Catholic Church nor the French monarchy and was covertly hostile to both. It was intended to secularize as well as to popularize knowledge, and it demonstrated those Enlightenment commitments most radically through its organizational scheme. Rather than being structured, as it were, God-down, with the whole world flowing forth from a divine creator, it was structured human-out, with the world divided according to the different ways in which the mind engages with it: “memory,” “reason,” and “imagination,” or what we might today call history, science and philosophy, and the arts. Like alphabetical order, which effectively democratizes topics by abolishing distinctions based on power and precedent in favor of subjecting them all to the same rule, this new structure had the effect of humbling even the most exalted subjects. In producing the Encyclopédie, Diderot did not look up to the heavens but out toward the future; his goal, he wrote, was “that our descendants, by becoming more learned, may become more virtuous and happier.”
This is your brain on God: Spiritual experiences activate brain reward circuits -- ScienceDaily"When our study participants were instructed to think about a savior, about being with their families for eternity, about their heavenly rewards, their brains and bodies physically responded," says lead author Michael Ferguson, who carried out the study as a bioengineering graduate student at the University of Utah. Based on fMRI scans, the researchers found that powerful spiritual feelings were reproducibly associated with activation in the nucleus accumbens, a critical brain region for processing reward. Peak activity occurred about 1-3 seconds before participants pushed the button and was replicated in each of the four tasks. As participants were experiencing peak feelings, their hearts beat faster and their breathing deepened. In addition to the brain's reward circuits, the researchers found that spiritual feelings were associated with the medial prefrontal cortex, which is a complex brain region that is activated by tasks involving valuation, judgment and moral reasoning. Spiritual feelings also activated brain regions associated with focused attention.
Thou Shalt Work Out | Outside Onlinehealth-minded Christian pundits have hailed First Baptist as a shining example of what’s possible when religion and fitness unite. In late 2009, the church invested a quarter of a million dollars to renovate its existing 25,000-square-foot rec center, making it a viable alternative to the city’s upscale health clubs. Besides the Group X room—a full-size basketball court where 14 instructors teach pilates, TRX, high-intensity interval training, “Godspeed Spin,” and other classes throughout the week—the facility has two weight rooms with HFB-branded Cybex machines, a cardio room, an indoor track, sprawling locker rooms, a hydromassage bed, and, for good measure, six bowling lanes.
Iowa neighborhoods and churchesTo explain Iowa’s swing state status, Lasley notes that Iowa has had a reputation as a conservative state with values that focus on farm, faith, and family. But in Iowa, those community values also tend to have what Lasley called a “progressive edge”: Iowa has never had segregated schools and in 1851 became the second state to legalize interracial marriage. In 2009, Iowa became the third state to legalize same-sex marriage. “It’s hard to hate someone when you have to live next to them and you depend on them for help and you sit elbow to elbow with them in the pew every Sunday morning,” Birkby says. “This is what has always made Iowa so great. We are great neighbors, because we have to be. Or we were anyway.”
How did Calvinism survive in Hungary?In Hungary the situation is different, due mostly to the semi-independent Transylvanian Principality (1570-1711) and the Ottoman occupation of the central parts of the Kingdom of Hungary (1541-1699). In the principality, the elected princes were either converts to Calvinism, as in the case of János Zsigmond, the first prince of Transylvania (1565-1571), or were already born as Calvinists and were therefore promoters of freedom of religion. In the case of the Ottoman-held territories, Catholic aristocratic families fled north or west into so-called Royal Hungary, and therefore their former serfs could follow their own religious inclinations.
Los Angeles Churches Make Worship...Hip? - The New York Times“What Waze is doing is navigating the scene,” he said, to a chorus of “yeahs” and “mm-hmms.” “It’s taking in all the information, it’s taking in other people’s traffic patterns, it’s taking in, what’s happening that we don’t even know behind the scene, and Waze makes decisions for us that we don’t realize is for our benefit. “What we need to do when we interact with God,” he said, “and he tells us to go somewhere, we need to be like Waze, where we are excited about the journey, to take turns that we didn’t even realize were ahead of us. We’re going to go to places that we weren’t even certain we wanted to go.” Mary Tanagho Ross, a lawyer and longtime Mosaic congregant, said the church’s style of preaching resonates. “I love that I can understand what they’re saying, and I don’t need somebody to interpret that for me,” she said. “It just feels really real, really authentic. I think that’s what people want: authenticity and simplicity.”
The Writer Runner | Runner's WorldThese early minutes are the gray space, the bland miles I have to run through before the prickling starts and the God rhythms pulse in my heart and I have to trick myself into not listening. My therapist says when this happens, it's the first hit of endorphins. It's not God, it's biology, he says. My therapist is not a runner.
How Globalization Fuels Terrorism and FundamentalismIn the past, Ladakhis would rarely identify themselves as Buddhists or Muslims, instead referring to their household or village of origin. But with the heightened competition brought by development, that began to change. Political power, formerly dispersed throughout the villages, became concentrated in bureaucracies controlled by the Muslim-dominated state of Kashmir, of which Ladakh was part. In most countries the group in power tends to favor its own kind, while the rest often suffer discrimination. Ladakh was no exception. Political representation and government jobs—virtually the only jobs available to formally-schooled Ladakhis—disproportionately went to Muslims. Thus ethnic and religious differences—once largely ignored—began to take on a political dimension, causing bitterness and enmity on a scale previously unknown.
Why running can be prayer | USCatholic.orgLike running, prayer is a discipline that takes repeated practice. I have noticed that if I don’t pray one night, it is more difficult to return the next night. I can fill those minutes with so many other activities: watching television, scrolling endlessly on my phone, worrying about the future. Jesuit Joe Simmons writes, “When I fall away from running—or for that matter, from praying—I feel out of sorts and lazy; alien to my best self.” To say that I have made writing and prayer habitual actions is not to devalue their significance. Rather, when something becomes habit, it becomes part of our skin and soul. I run to run faster; I pray to pray better.
Seventh Day Adventismthey also hold many false and strange doctrines. Among these are the following: (a) the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon; (b) the pope is the Antichrist; (c) in the last days, Sunday worship will be "the mark of the beast"; (d) there is a future millennium in which the devil will roam the earth while Christians are with Christ in heaven; (e) the soul sleeps between death and resurrection; and (f) on the last day, after a limited period of punishment in hell, the wicked will be annihilated and cease to exist rather than be eternally damned. (For rebuttals of many of these ideas, see the Catholic Answers tracts, The Antichrist, The Hell There Is, Hunting the Whore of Babylon, The Whore of Babylon, and Sabbath or Sunday?)
How to understand ‘biblical inerrantists’But the most revealing part of this document is the main section not-at-all-pretentiously titled “Articles of Affirmation and Denial.” This section will teach you everything you need to know about this bunch of would-be authorities. The 19 — excuse me, XIX (Roman numerals are more imperially authoritative) — “articles” each includes a raw assertion followed by a related denial. Those denials are the important bit. Read them. But as you do, replace the phrase “We Deny that …” in each of those articles with the phrase “We Fear that …” Or, better yet, “We Have a Terrifying, Gnawing Suspicion that …” Or even “We Lie Awake at Night Desperately Wishing We Had Some Substantial and Convincing Response to the Claim that …”
America's religious divideGiven the power of right-wing religiosity in this country it’s not surprising that there should be a very fierce atheist and rationalist countermovement. I am actually one of these people who really likes watching those YouTube videos with titles like, “Christopher Hitchens owns idiotic Texan religionist” or whatever. I actually watch that stuff and enjoy it. But when I drift down to the comments section, I’m always amazed anew that there are quite so many atheists in this country, and that they are quite so completely fanatical. That is to say, if you are unwise enough, as I have been, to write a sort of plague on both their houses type of piece, in which you are mildly critical of certain elements of the new atheism as well as being fairly obviously critical of religiosity, you get no quarter from the atheistic camp.
Dylan learned about rock from Billy GrahamWhen I was growing up, Billy Graham was very popular. He was the greatest preacher and evangelist of my time — that guy could save souls and did. I went to two or three of his rallies in the ’50s or ’60s. This guy was like rock ’n’ roll personified — volatile, explosive. He had the hair, the tone, the elocution — when he spoke, he brought the storm down. Clouds parted. Souls got saved, sometimes 30- or 40,000 of them. If you ever went to a Billy Graham rally back then, you were changed forever. There’s never been a preacher like him. He could fill football stadiums before anybody. He could fill Giants Stadium more than even the Giants football team. Seems like a long time ago. Long before Mick Jagger sang his first note or Bruce strapped on his first guitar — that’s some of the part of rock ’n’ roll that I retained. I had to. I saw Billy Graham in the flesh and heard him loud and clear.
‘You can’t insult the faith of others': Pope on Charlie Hebdo
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Newspaper Edits Female World Leaders Out of Charlie Hebdo March | Mediaite
Rules for Jewish conversion in fluxNot long ago, Israel passed legislation that intended to make Jewish conversions less difficult. The bill’s final form, however, gave the chief rabbinate control over the approval of all conversion certificates; this compromise will result only in more bureaucratic mix-ups and disagreements about the converts’ legitimacy — and their right to invoke the Law of Return, by which countless Jews have found safe haven and refuge in Israel.The Rabbinical Council of America, which oversees Orthodox conversions, strictly adheres to the chief rabbinate’s standards. For example, unmarried conversion candidates are often required to refrain from dating until their conversion is approved, a process that can take years. Many candidates are required to move to Orthodox neighborhoods and enroll their children in full-time private Jewish day schools — a formidable financial obstacle.
A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Being Jewish - The AtlanticOrthodox Judaism generally requires the most hours of an adherent's time, while Reform Judaism generally requires quite a lot less of an adherent's time. Therefore, based on income alone (which makes a person's time more or less valuable), “we would expect the members of Orthodox congregations to have the lowest wage rates and the members of Reform congregations to have the highest wage rates,” with Conservative Jews somewhere in the middle. And since education correlates well to income, we’d expect college and advanced degrees to be similarly-sorted throughout the denominations. Sure enough, Chiswick writes, “This pattern was clearly apparent by the mid-20th century.”
Despite the ample statistical analysis, the study hits a few stumbling blocks. Firstly it only takes into account analytical intelligence, disregarding creative and emotional intelligence. Moreover, it could be argued the study is not representative, as over 87 per cent of the participants involved in the various studies were from the US, the UK and Canada. Also, the predominant religion is the study is Protestantism, while other beliefs are not investigated.