Can you be scientific and spiritual?

Spirituality can be an uncomfortable word for atheists. But does it deserve the antagonism that it gets?

  • While the anti-scientific bias of religious fundamentalism requires condemnation, if we take a broader view, does the human inclination towards spiritual practice still require the same antagonism? The answer, I think, is a definitive "No."
  • Rather than ontological claims about what exists in the universe, the terms spiritual and sacred can describe the character of an experience. Instead of a "thing" they can refer to an attitude or an approach.
  • One can be entirely faithful to the path of inquiry and honesty that is science while making it one aspect of a broader practice embracing the totality of your experience as a human being in this more-than-human world.
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Is there life after death?

Is death the final frontier? We ask scientists, philosophers, and spiritual leaders about life after death.

  • Death is inevitable for all known living things. However on the question of what, if anything, comes after life, the most honest answer is that no one knows.
  • So far, there is no scientific evidence to prove or disprove what happens after we die. In this video, astronomer Michelle Thaller, neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris, science educator Bill Nye, and others consider what an afterlife would look like, what the biblical concepts of 'eternal life' and 'hell' really mean, why so many people around the world choose to believe that death is not the end, and whether or not that belief is ultimately detrimental or beneficial to one's life.
  • Life after death is also not relegated to discussions of religion. "Digital and genetic immortality are within reach," says theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. Kaku shares how, in the future, we may be able to physically talk to the dead thanks to hologram technology and the digitization of our online lives, memories, and connectome.
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Pattern recognition influences religious belief, according to new study

Christians and Muslims that pick out unconscious patterns are more likely to believe in a god.

Credit: Nadia Grapes / Shutterstock
  • Georgetown researchers found strong implicit pattern learning implies belief in a god.
  • The study included American Christians and Afghani Muslims, representing two different religious and cultural backgrounds.
  • Further research on polytheistic religious believers could provide insights into a cognitive basis of religion.
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Has science made religion useless?

Placing science and religion at opposite ends of the belief spectrum is to ignore their unique purposes.

  • Science and religion (fact versus faith) are often seen as two incongruous groups. When you consider the purpose of each and the questions that they seek to answer, the comparison becomes less black and white.
  • This video features religious scholars, a primatologist, a neuroendocrinologist, a comedian, and other brilliant minds considering, among other things, the evolutionary function that religion serves, the power of symbols, and the human need to learn, explore, and know the world around us so that it becomes a less scary place.
  • "I think most people are actually kind of comfortable with the idea that science is a reliable way to learn about nature, but it's not the whole story and there's a place also for religion, for faith, for theology, for philosophy," says Francis Collins, American geneticist and director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "But that harmony perspective doesn't get as much attention. Nobody is as interested in harmony as they are in conflict."

Protect the religious rights of Muslims. They are your rights, too.

We should care about constitutional rights for all, says lawyer and religious freedom scholar Asma T. Uddin. If they are denied for some, history demonstrates how they may be at risk for us all.

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
  • Islam is being challenged as a religion in America today. Opponents claim it is not a religion, but a dangerous political ideology.
  • Lawyer and religious freedom scholar Asma T. Uddin challenges that view and explains why it is a threat to the religious liberty of all Americans, not just Muslims.
  • In U.S. history, Catholics, Jews, and Mormons have all been "denationalized" as Americans and persecuted for their beliefs. This destructive precedent is a threat to all Americans, across all belief systems.
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