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using science to explain religion March 23, 2008

Posted by AP in neuroscience, religion, science.
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economist.com:

Religion cries out for a biological explanation. It is a ubiquitous phenomenon—arguably one of the species markers of Homo sapiens—but a puzzling one. It has none of the obvious benefits of that other marker of humanity, language. Nevertheless, it consumes huge amounts of resources. Moreover, unlike language, it is the subject of violent disagreements. Science has, however, made significant progress in understanding the biology of language, from where it is processed in the brain to exactly how it communicates meaning. Time, therefore, to put religion under the microscope as well.

Explaining Religion is an ambitious attempt to do this. The experiments it will sponsor are designed to look at the mental mechanisms needed to represent an omniscient deity, whether (and how) belief in such a “surveillance-camera” God might improve reproductive success to an individual’s Darwinian advantage, and whether religion enhances a person’s reputation—for instance, do people think that those who believe in God are more trustworthy than those who do not? The researchers will also seek to establish whether different religions foster different levels of co-operation, for what reasons, and whether such co-operation brings collective benefits, both to the religious community and to those outside it.

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science cafes December 16, 2007

Posted by KG in environment, news, science, tech.
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science-cafe.jpg

this actually seems pretty cool, but don’t expect a successful rebranding of nerdiness anytime soon…

“Science Cafés Tap Nation’s Fascination With Research and Discoveries”:

About 60 science cafés have cropped up across the United States. The first café was held in England in 1998, and the movement is spreading elsewhere in Europe, as well as South America and Australia. Most are held free of charge and are loosely affiliated through an international umbrella organization called Café Scientifique.

To find a café, visit Science Cafes.

scientists push candidates for positions on science December 14, 2007

Posted by KG in 2008 Elections, news, politics, religion, science, tech.
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bill-nye.jpg

disagreeing with bill nye the science guy really is beyond the pale…

wired:

A Who’s Who of America’s top scientists are launching a quixotic last-minute effort this week to force presidential candidates to detail the role science would play in their administrations — a question they say is key to the future of the country, if not the world.

The candidates did not respond immediately, but most of the Democratic contenders for the White House have released science policies. And Sen. Hillary Clinton has repeatedly slammed the Bush administration’s science record.

Republican candidates can be forgiven for not immediately responding to the call for a dialog on science. Iowa front-runners Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee were busy sparring this week over whether Romney believes Satan and Jesus Christ are brothers — a relatively obscure doctrine of Romney’s Mormon faith.

But also on board are 11 Nobel laureates in science, the editor of Scientific American, the president of Princeton University, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and other academic luminaries in the field. Krauss calls the drive bi-bipartisan, noting the inclusion of Norm Augustine, the retired CEO of Lockheed Martin, and Richard Garwin, who was on the White House’s Science Advisory Committee under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Minnesota Republican congressman Jim Ramstad is also on the list.

(more…)

can biology do better than faith? November 26, 2007

Posted by AP in religion, science.
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edward o. wilson, professor of entomology at harvard university, opines at newscientist.com on what he considers irreconcilable systems.

spoiler alert: biology wins.