Aug. 31, 2006
August 31, 2006
OUR BRAINS AND OUR GODS
A new study suggests there is no single "God spot" in the human brain. This finding is in tension with previous research that indicated our ideas about God may be a natural result of the way we're wired. We may not have a "God spot," but most religions would say God has a soft spot for humanity.
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THE PUBLIC'S DISCOMFORT ABOUT RELIGION
Americans, it turns out, aren't very comfortable with the way political liberals and political conservatives try to connect religion and public policy. At least that's what a new poll shows.
The poll was conducted for the Pew Research Center for People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
To my mind, it reflects a general unease with the way that religion and politics get mixed in together these days in our society. I share much of that unease because people who would identify themselves as liberal sometimes think there is no place for religion in the formulation of public policy while people who think of themselves as conservatives sometimes think religion is or should be the only or primary basis for deciding such policy questions.
Both of those positions give me pause. And apparently they give lots of other Americans pause, too.
An interesting finding in the poll shows that nearly 60 percent of Americans think the influence of religion in public life is declining, and they identify that as a bad development. My view is that religion should have considerable influence in public life, but the idea that public policy should reflect only one particular religion's views is troublesome.
Religion, I think, should be among the voices -- even if it's quite a loud voice and many-toned voice -- in the discussion, but our system of government is designed to prevent the government from promoting the views of any religion and to make sure that all religions can speak freely.
So take a look at the Pew survey results and see how they strike you.
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.
AND a P.S.:
I'll be teaching a weekend writing class Oct. 6-8 at the Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center in Bangor, Pa. Think about joining us. For a description of the class, click here. It's called "From Pain to Hope through Writing." In it, we'll spend some time thinking about what Christianity means by hope and then we'll go to those places of personal or collective pain in our lives and write about them, remembering what it means to have hope. We'll also share some of that writing with each other. Writing about pain can be a healing process as we write toward the light. The weekend begins with a Friday evening dinner and session and ends with lunch on Sunday. An Autumn weekend in the Poconos spent with words. What could be better? Hope to see you there.