Americans | Christmas Story


The Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life has just published the results of its survey of Americans’ beliefs about the Christmas story. Click the link, scroll down to the report, and marvel at the durability of Christian ideology.


Majorities Believe Christmas Story Historically Accurate

Philosophers on Religion

After conducting twelve interviews on religion with philosophers, Dr. Gary Gutting (University of Notre Dame) interviews himself about what he’s learned.

Debating God: Notes on an Unanswered Question

Living with Conflict, Searching for Peace


Why does Israel seem to be a site of persistent social conflict?
How can better relationships be forged between Israeli and Arab neighbors?
What strategies can we envision for achieving a lasting peace in the region?

The Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies and the UO Faculty Fellows Program are pleased to welcome Dr. Menachem Mor to campus on October 5. Dr. Mor is Dean of the Humanities at the University of Haifa and a specialist in Jewish history and culture. He will provide historical context for understanding the Arab-Israeli conflict and share his reflections on the current social climate in Israel. His presentation will be followed by conversation and discussion on the the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian problem, the characteristics of political and social justice, and the transformation of communities marked by violence into those grounded in peace. Click the image above for more information.

American Religious Participation

The Public Religion Research Institute finds that Americans inflate their participation in religious life.

“I Know What You Did Last Sunday”

Soft Atheism

Dr. Gary Gutting (University of Notre Dame) interviews Dr. Philip Kitcher (Columbia University) about the ideas he explores in his new book, Life After Faith: The Case for Secular Humanism.

The Case for “Soft Atheism”

Internet and Religion

MIT Technology Review has published an article discussing a recent study (“Religious Affiliation, Education and Internet Use“) that finds a correlation between the rise of the internet and the decrease in religious affiliation among Americans.

How the Internet Is Taking Away America’s Religion

Intelligence and Religiosity

candlesMiron Zuckerman, Jordan Silberman, and Judith A. Hall have recently published a provocative study in Personality and Social Psychology Review on the relationship between intelligence and religious commitment.  “The Relation Between Intelligence and Religiosity: A Meta-Analysis and Some Proposed Explanations” argues that people who display high levels of analytic intelligence (which they define as the “ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience”) tend to be resistant to religious commitment (they define religiosity as “the degree of involvement in some or all facets of religion … includ[ing] beliefs in supernatural agents, costly commitment to these agents [e.g., offering of property], using beliefs in those agents to lower existential anxieties such as anxiety over death, and communal rituals that validate and affirm religious beliefs”).  They conclude that “[a]nalytic thinking is controlled, systematic, rule-based, and relatively slow; intuitive thinking, in contrast, is reflexive, heuristic-based, spontaneous, mostly nonconscious, and relatively fast. We propose that more intelligent people tend to think analytically and that analytic thinking leads to lower religiosity” (17).  Not surprisingly, the college experience can often affect an intelligent  person’s religious commitment: “The separation from home and the exposure to a context that encourages questioning may allow intelligence to impact religious beliefs. Using analytic (as opposed to intuitive) thinking, more intelligent college students may be more likely to eschew religion.  If atheism is disapproved of at home, higher intelligence may facilitate resistance to conformity pressure.  These mechanisms might explain why the negative relation between intelligence and religiosity increases in college” (22).

A meta-analysis of 63 studies showed a significant negative association between intelligence and religiosity.  The association was stronger for college students and the general population than for participants younger than college age; it was also stronger for religious beliefs than religious behavior.  For college students and the general population, means of weighted and unweighted correlations between intelligence and the strength of religious beliefs ranged from −.20 to −.25 (mean r = −.24).  Three possible interpretations were discussed.  First, intelligent people are less likely to conform and, thus, are more likely to resist religious dogma.  Second, intelligent people tend to adopt an analytic (as opposed to intuitive) thinking style, which has been shown to undermine religious beliefs.  Third, several functions of religiosity, including compensatory control, self-regulation, self-enhancement, and secure attachment, are also conferred by intelligence. Intelligent people may therefore have less need for religious beliefs and practices.