Understanding Religion

Though we can't prove the existence of one (or many) god(s), we can provide evidence for the power of religion. For good or for evil, faith factors into our everyday functioning: We've evolved to believe. Religion can help us make sense of our world, provide motivation, and bind us together. Nevertheless, structured belief has its drawbacks. So keep your mind open when dealing with dogma.

Recent posts on Religion

Losing Our Faith

By Phil Zuckerman Ph.D. on August 29, 2016 in The Secular Life
The latest Pew survey shows why many Americans are leaving religion: they lost their faith in God

Beaver Island

By Laura Betzig Ph.D. on August 28, 2016 in The Political Animal
Promiscuous absolutists have had their day after the people find ways to sail, ride or walk away.

Weird Beliefs

By Eric Dietrich Ph.D. on August 24, 2016 in Excellent Beauty
You have some weird beliefs, beliefs that do not fit well with all your other everyday beliefs. To you, though, these beliefs are not weird at all. What explains this?

A Pastor Walks Into a Room Full of Atheists

What do you think would happen when a United Methodist pastor walks into a room full of atheists? The answer might surprise you!

Sea of Sadness

By G.A. Bradshaw PhD, PhD on August 20, 2016 in Bear in Mind
For elephants in India, epic social changes are bringing hardships and hope.

What Kinds Of People Believe Animals Go To Heaven?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on August 19, 2016 in Animals and Us
Two recent studies have found many people agree that animals from dogs to snakes and insects experience life after death.

Why Theological Waywardness Is Inevitable

Natural penchants of mind, such as anthropomorphism, dispose people to think about gods in ways that often conflict with their religions' doctrines.

Add a Dose of Skepticism to Whatever You Believe

A finely honed doubt is as beautiful as a deeply held belief.

How to Understand Honor Killings

By Ryan Brown Ph.D. on August 11, 2016 in Honor Bound
To combat a horrific practice, it helps to understand the motivations behind it.

Political Progress for Nonreligious Americans

By David Niose on August 07, 2016 in Our Humanity, Naturally
Secular Americans have struggled to tear down the "fence of piety" around the political realm. And now they're making progress.

Non-Self Characters in Lucid Dreams

By Patrick McNamara Ph.D. on August 06, 2016 in Dream Catcher
Non-self dream characters are not simple expressions of a sub-personality of the dreamer.
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Terrorist Assisted Suicide

We need to talk about the difference between terrorism and depression.

Moments of Grace

Moments of grace have nothing to do with us… but also do have a lot to do with us.

Jesus, Trump, and American Morality

By Phil Zuckerman Ph.D. on July 27, 2016 in The Secular Life
Jesus and Trump couldn't be more different.

Bad Listening Skills II: Responding to Grief and Loss

By Hank Davis on July 27, 2016 in Caveman Logic
What is it about death and loss that triggers the worst listening skills in most of us? No matter how deep your convictions are, you can't preach and listen at the same time.

Can Possession Be a Good Thing?

Possession is common in many spiritual traditions – is that a good or a bad thing?

Is the World More Dangerous Now Than Ever?

By Eric Dietrich Ph.D. on July 24, 2016 in Excellent Beauty
Fear of violence seems to be governing our lives these days. But should it? Could the world actually be safer now than it has ever been?

What Is the Best Path Forward After Terrorism?

Our mind makes intuitive mistakes about how to deal with terrorism in the best manner. This article uses insights from neuroscience to show the best path to deal with terrorism.

Renewed Faith in Insurance Coverage for Addiction Treatment

I have witnessed staff conduct insurance utilization reviews advocating for additional days of treatment for clients desperately in need—sometimes successfully and sometimes not.

Is Atheism Just Another Religion?

By Phil Zuckerman Ph.D. on July 19, 2016 in The Secular Life
Lacking a belief in the supernatural, atheism is not a religion.

The Disunited States of America and the Bystander Effect

By Sean Cort on July 18, 2016 in The Power of Perspective
Our nation is actually a 'nation-family' and we are suffering from an illness that could prove fatal.

Why No One Should Ever Use the Word 'Cult'

By Guy P. Harrison on July 18, 2016 in About Thinking
If "cult" is a sleazy, illogical slur word, why does everyone use it?

After Dallas, Why Aren't Whites Rushing to Enact Gun Reform?

Guns are mythologized in our culture. And when something is sacred, regulating it becomes much more difficult.

GOP Declares War on Modern Sexuality

By David J Ley Ph.D. on July 11, 2016 in Women Who Stray
The 2016 GOP convention is contemplating strident stances that express opposition to our society's sweeping changes to sexual values and behaviors.

Evolved as One People

Right before our eyes, the world has seemed to all but unravel. Perhaps an evolutionary perspective can help us remember that we’re all in the same boat.

Not All Muslims? Not All Mental Illness Either.

Yes, moderate Muslims are too often painted with the same brush as jihadists, but people with mental illness are no more monochromatic than the Muslim world.

Does Play Give Life Meaning?

By Bernard L. De Koven on July 05, 2016 in On Having Fun
"Sacred play promotes the best of our human nature, improves our wellbeing, and is fun. Religion lacking play is suicidal." - Peter Gray

How to Live a Purpose-Driven Life

How can you find purpose and meaning from a secular perspective?

Dying to Tell a Good Story

Sometimes meaningful stories are what we really want.

DNA Imaging: Icon of a New, Genomic Literacy

Images of DNA pose the problem of genomic literacy and raise questions about what the text of the genome means, with potentially revolutionary implications for society.