Archives for religion



Contraception as a Prisoner’s Dilemma

A reader named Dennis Schenkel in Martin, Tenn., writes in with an interesting commentary about an article that intersects with a lot of things we’ve written about:

First, I know I’m partisan. I’m a Catholic priest. I’m a moralist. I’m biased. That having been said, I just read an article [from 2010] … describing how better contraceptives have successfully split the previous (before 1960) “mating market” into two markets consisting of the “sex market” and the “marriage market,” the author goes on to describe how this sets up a classic “prisoner’s dilemma” for women and gives men a huge advantage in both markets. The article appears in First Things, which is a religion/philosophy/culture/arts journal inhabited mostly by orthodox Catholic and Protestant Christians. But the article’s author does his best to speak exclusively in the language of the social sciences, without moralizing.

 



The Status Quo

If you ever travel to Israel (which, BTW, is a phenomenal place to visit regardless of your attitudes toward religion or Middle Eastern politics), you’ll certainly see the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on what many believe is the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. But you might come away a bit disappointed; the church has something of a disorganized and ramshackle feel.

The problem is not that the site isn’t considered sacred, but that it’s considered too sacred. Thanks to its obvious import, it is shared—and has been for thousands of years—by multiple religious denominations, including the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Coptic Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Ethiopian Orthodox and Syriac Orthodox sects. (Sorry, Protestants, since Luther’s 95 Theses were not posted until 1517 you are Johnny-come-latelys and don’t get a piece of the action.) Read More »



Modesty Glasses

Men in the ultra-Orthodox religious community in Jerusalem object to women walking on the street in short skirts or sleeveless blouses, even attacking those who venture out in such unacceptable outfits.  Very few women will dare to go out dressed that way in certain sections of this magnificent city.  News of the Weird reports a solution that shifts the cost of enforcing the policy to the men: Members of “modesty patrols” are now selling ultra-Orthodox men glasses that blur distant images, thus preventing them from seeing “immodestly dressed” women.  This is a neat application of the Coase Theorem, and it seems a fair one: With these glasses, the costs of enforcing the men’s religious beliefs will be borne by the men rather than by women who choose how they wish to dress.



Better Living Through Religious Conversion?

A response via Twitter concerning our recent post about Cambodian villagers who reportedly converted to Christianity to save money:

@DavidFCox: I had an Indian friend that changed religion 4 times to get best education



Saving Money By Converting to Christianity

The Phnom Penh Post reports on a Cambodian village that’s converting to Christianity for economic reasons:

At upwards of US$500, the cost of slaughtering a buffalo to revive a relative condemned to ill-health by the spirits has pushed the Jarai indigenous minority residents of Somkul village in Ratanakkiri to a more affordable religious option: Christianity.

In the village in O’Yadav district’s Som Thom commune, about 80 per cent of the community have given up on spirits and ghosts in favour of Sunday sermons and modern medicine. 

Read More »



Religion, Crime, and Television

A new survey study by Amir Hetsroni (who has also studied the difference between real doctors and TV doctors) and Hila Levenstein looks at the relationship between TV viewing and crime perception. The study, to be published next year in Psychological Reports, found a difference between religious and non-religious participants. From Ynetnews:

Yet the data collected from the 778 residents of northern Israel who watched channels 2 and 10 during prime time viewing hours in 2009 revealed some unexpected information. 

It soon became clear that among secular viewers there was a certain connection between television viewing and fear of falling victim to a crime. Whereas a situation called Counter-Cultivation was diagnosed among religious viewers. This means that the more they watched television, the less they feared becoming a victim of a crime.

Read More »



Jonathan Haidt Answers Your Questions About Morality, Politics, and Religion

We recently solicited your questions for social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

Below are his responses about confirmation bias in religion, the “score” of our morals, the power of branding, how his research has made him a centrist, and how the search for truth is hampered by our own biases. Big thanks to him and all our readers for another great Q&A.   Read More »



What Does Tim Tebow Pray For?

In a recent Football Freakonomics video about Tim Tebow, I made a connection between his faith and performance: Tebow is hardly the first NFL quarterback to be demonstrative about his religious faith. But he’s very demonstrative – and it’s worth considering how that faith may affect his play. By definition, faith often translates into a […] Read More »