German Court Criminalizes Circumcision, Debate Erupts

A German court has effectively criminalized male circumcision, and while the ruling is not binding on any other body, debate over religious and individual freedom has erupted. 

What's the Latest Development?

A decision handed down by a German court two weeks ago, in which a judge ruled that circumcision constitutes bodily harm and is therefore punishable under criminal law, has sparked a debate among religious groups and other activists. Though the ruling involved a Muslim boy and has no bearing on other legal cases, the specter of religious intolerance has been raised by the Conference of European Rabbis, calling the decision the "worst attack on Jewish life since the Holocaust." Members of the German government have tried to calm opponents of the ruling, including the state of Israel, by emphasizing that the decision is not legally binding on other courts. 

What's the Big Idea?

Issues of religious and individual freedom surround the circumcision controversy. While the Muslim and Jewish faiths consider the practice a rite, others see the procedure as a medically unnecessary and painful experience that, like female circumcision, the state should put a stop to. Last week, the New York Times hosted an online debate explaining the various sides to this cultural impasse: Perhaps 16 should be given as age for circumcision consent; Whether the procedure is medically necessarily depends on where it is done, e.g. Africa; The state should neither require nor forbid religious procedures...

Photo credit:

The 4 types of thinking talents: Analytic, procedural, relational and innovative

Understanding thinking talents in yourself and others can build strong teams and help avoid burnout.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to collaborate within a team and identify "thinking talent" surpluses – and shortages.
  • Angie McArthur teaches intelligent collaboration for Big Think Edge.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Do you have a self-actualized personality? Maslow revisited

Rediscovering the principles of self-actualisation might be just the tonic that the modern world is crying out for.

Personal Growth

Abraham Maslow was the 20th-century American psychologist best-known for explaining motivation through his hierarchy of needs, which he represented in a pyramid. At the base, our physiological needs include food, water, warmth and rest.

Keep reading Show less

Brazilian scientists produce mini-brains with eyes

Using a new process, a mini-brain develops retinal cells.

Surprising Science
  • Mini-brains, or "neural organoids," are at the cutting edge of medical research.
  • This is the first one that's started developing eyes.
  • Stem cells are key to the growing of organoids of various body parts.
Keep reading Show less

Believe in soulmates? You're more likely to 'ghost' romantic partners.

Does believing in true love make people act like jerks?

Thought Catalog via Unsplash
Sex & Relationships
  • Ghosting, or cutting off all contact suddenly with a romantic partner, is not nice.
  • Growth-oriented people (who think relationships are made, not born) do not appreciate it.
  • Destiny-oriented people (who believe in soulmates) are more likely to be okay with ghosting.
Keep reading Show less