Category Archives: religion

Addicted to porn? Try this Jesus app

buddy-jesusLike anyone who writes about technology, I get a lot of press releases. Some are inordinately bad. I got one the other day that was so bad, I had to share it. In its entirety. It’s from the Christian News Service, which is interesting in and of itself. How do I get on such mailing lists? I’ll never know.

Anyhow, here’s the release, plus a quick thought at the end:

The Devastating Effect of Losing Every Man’s Battle With Pornography Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on November 14, 2013 in religion, sex


The secret to happiness: resurrection?

I’ve written quite a bit this week about happiness levels, and the factors that affect it. One of the things that affects my personal happiness levels is time off from working, which I’m doing today in light of Good Friday. Oh happy day!

Since Easter is a time when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ, I thought it might be appropriate to share the video below. It details some of the Soviet experiments into resurrection back in the 1930s. Enjoy!


Posted by on March 29, 2013 in religion


Are name days on the road to extinction?

It was my birthday the other day, a time of year when my old Polish mother likes to remind me that such events aren’t necessarily celebrated where our family comes from. In Poland, as in many parts of Europe and Latin America, birthdays are often eschewed in favour of name days. As is probably obvious, a name day is a birthday-like celebration, except it’s held not on the day of your birth but rather on the day associated with your given (first) name.

Someone should have told father Frank that there’s no Saint Moon Unit.

It’s a tradition that comes from the Orthodox and Catholic calendars of saints. According to said calendars, my name day is Sept. 27. All things considered, that might be a better time to have a party, since many of my friends are usually on vacation in mid-August.

Regardless, I couldn’t help but wonder if name days are a quaint tradition that won’t survive much longer. After all, there are only 365 days a year, so doesn’t that limit how many name days there can be? My mother, in response, tells me that numerous names are celebrated on each day, and that new names are added all the time.

That’s great, but given that people are constantly coming up with new names for their children, it’s not a solution that can be practiced infinitely. In technological parlance, it’s not scalable.

Comparing some of the most popular baby names in 2011 to name days, it’s clear that many people would simply be out of luck in countries where name days are observed. The likes of Avery, Logan and Wyatt would have no choice but to celebrate their birthdays like the rest of us.

Of course, the trend toward increasingly-unique baby names - say, Cinnamon, Lex or even Aloe Vera - could always make a comeback. The current trend may be for parents to give their one-of-a-kind child a one-of-a-kind name, but there are good reasons for going with the tried and true Matthews, Marks, Lukes and Johns (and Peters).

As various stories have pointed out, giving your child an exceptionally unique name could harm his/her chances of employment later in life. After all, would you hire someone named Blue Angel?

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Posted by on August 21, 2012 in religion


The links between religion, poverty and obesity

Last week, I posted about a study emanating from Northwestern University in Illinois that predicted the extinction of religion in nine developed countries. Well, those researchers at Northwestern must not like God very much because they’ve released another study that links obesity to religion.

The study found that young adults who frequently attend religious activities are 50 per cent more likely to become obese later in life. While it’s an interesting finding, the researchers couldn’t really explain it.

“It’s possible that getting together once a week and associating good works and happiness with eating unhealthy foods could lead to the development of habits that are associated with greater body weight and obesity,” according to the lead researcher.

That lack of explanation sounds like a good opportunity to jump in with some correlations. In my post last week, I pointed out that U.S. states with the lowest GDP per capita were also the ones with the highest rates of church and synagogue attendance. There is also a very clear correlation with those two factors when compared to the most obese states. In other words, all three of these things - religion, income and obesity - go together.

Obesity and income level have been linked in many studies to the point where we can probably move beyond correlation and think causality - that poorer people are more likely to be obese because they can’t afford healthier food. The cheapest stuff in the grocery store and at restaurants is almost always the least healthy and therefore the most likely to contribute to obesity. That religious people also have a higher tendency to become obese should therefore come as no surprise - they are also more likely to be less educated and have lower incomes. That’s another correlation that I’ll try to prove in book #2.

It is worth pointing out, however, that bad food does not cause obesity alone, a fact that much media reporting often omits. As the World Health Organization defines it, obesity is caused by a high intake of energy-dense foods and “a decrease in physical activity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanization.” So it’s not just McDonald’s et al that cause obesity, it’s also parents who don’t teach their kids how to live healthy and active lifestyles.

The better question to ask then, is are religious people more lazy? The sarcastic answer might be that anyone who prays to a higher power for breaks in life rather than making their own certainly qualifies as lazy, but I don’t think the science on that one has been done.

Interestingly, the link between obesity and poverty is a relatively recent phenomenon. Historically, being fat was the ultimate status symbol - because food was relatively rare and hard to come by, having a lot of it in your belly meant you were well off and could afford to eat lots. Up until about a century ago, being chubby was like owning a Lexus.

Things are obviously different today, at least in developed countries. With food being cheap and plentiful, girth of the waistline has lost its social cachet. Size still does matter, though - but people now show off their wealth with big houses and cars.

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Posted by on March 31, 2011 in obesity, religion


Religion to go extinct, for one reason or another

A rather provocative headline caught my eye the other day, so I just had to check out the story: “Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says.”

The nine nations, according to researchers from several U.S. universities, are Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland. The researchers used census data and mathematical models to build their predictions, which are based on a growing number of people in those countries saying they are “unaffiliated” with any sort of religion.

Their reasoning behind the growth is interesting, being a blend of math and sociology. Religion will die out in these places because of a sort of snowball effect, the researchers said.

“It posits that social groups that have more members are going to be more attractive to join, and it posits that social groups have a social status or utility,” said Richard Wiener of the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, and the University of Arizona. In other words, people want to be part of the majority, so as more people become non-religious, they in turn attract more people to do the same.

The study is of particular to interest to me because the death of religion will figure prominently in my next book. I was coming at the idea from a very different perspective, though. My theory is that religion’s decline for the past few centuries has moved in lock step with our exponentially growing understanding of science. To put it another way, the smarter we get, the less we believe in religion.

There are many correlations. One of the easiest ones to do, for example, is to compare religious belief with economic affluence, which is almost always highest in well-educated areas. Take a look at U.S. states - the people who live in the most well-heeled ones also go to church or synagogues the least. If you check out those links, you’ll see that South Carolina, Mississippi and Utah place in the top five with the most church and synagogue-goers and not coincidentally in the bottom five in terms of GDP per capita. They also don’t fare well in education rankings.

Things may seem muddier when you apply this theory globally, particularly to the Middle East, but not really. Although many Middle Eastern nations are seemingly rich because of oil, the ones that pass the wealth around the most are also the ones that tend to be less religious and most educated.

It’s not a simple topic - and it’s definitely a hot-button issue - so I don’t mean to give it short shrift here, but it is a correlation that I’m looking to prove as causality in book #2.

One last side note to this whole story - the U.S. researchers were only able to come up with their theories thanks to good, solid information gleaned from years of census reports. This is information the current government of Canada is basically depriving future researchers of by axing the long-form census. We can add that to its list of failures I talked about yesterday.


Posted by on March 25, 2011 in religion


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