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Live in a religious country? Your work ethic might be different.

One of the seminal pieces of research on religion and society was done in the early 20th century by a guy named Max Weber, who concluded that what he called the ‘Protestant Work Ethic’ helped explain why the countries of Northern Europe and America were so prosperous. It’s a provocative conclusion that later research has shown was [Read More...]

One of the seminal pieces of research on religion and society was done in the early 20th century by a guy named Max Weber, who concluded that what he called the ‘Protestant Work Ethic’ helped explain why the countries of Northern Europe and America were so prosperous. It’s a provocative conclusion that later research has shown was [Read More...]

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Many years ago, a guy called Michael Persinger achieved a certain amount of fame with a claim that stimulating the right part of the brain with a magnetic field could give people a religious experience. Although others weren’t able to get the same results, studies since then have found that brain damage to parts of [Read More...]

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One of the characteristics of the modern world is the emergence of the secular state. In many nations there was an almost symbiotic relationship between the state and religion., but over the centuries we’ve seen a gradual disentanglement of religious authority from state authority and the emergence of the secular state. A fascinating new 1000-year [Read More...]

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It’s widely recognised that atheists are one of the most marginalised groups in the USA. As you might imagine, this can cause all sorts of problems for non-believers. But might it also help explain why the public face of atheism in the USA is so stridently vocal? Many American atheists are passionate about their identity as [Read More...]

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  Yesterday the international polling organisation WIN/Gallup released the results of a massive new survey into religion worldwide (here’s their press release). You’ve probably seen the news reports, mostly talking about which countries have the most (or fewest) religious people, and speculating what that might mean. Some other important data come out just last week [Read More...]

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The Canadian news and current affairs magazine Maclean’s has just run a glowing article claiming that science says ‘God is the answer’ to teen anxiety and health problems. It’s basically a promotional piece for a new book by Lisa Miller, Director of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University’s Teachers College. To give you a flavour of the article, [Read More...]

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In a run-down market place in Kabul, Afghanistan, groups of men hang around hoping that someone will offer them a job for the day. But today is different. Today they get an unusual offer. Somebody is willing to pay them a whole days wage (about $9) jus…

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In a remote highland region of south-eastern Turkey lies the remains of what is possibly the world’s old temple. Dating to 11,000 years ago, it predates even the rise of agriculture – as far as we can tell, it also predates the first complex societies. Now, not all religions are the same. Some (a minority, [Read More...]

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Researchers around the world have found that subliminal reminders of religion can have some fairly profound effects (for example, encouraging honesty, obedience, revenge and staying power – and, as we saw in the previous post – even risk taking). But is this specifically about religion? Perhaps being reminded about god makes people virtuous – but [Read More...]

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