Monthly Archives: March 2013

There was another interesting post this week from Tom Bartlett in the Chronicle of Higher Education – “Do Atheists Really Believe in God?” It cited a recent study in Finland.

In a forthcoming paper in the International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, titled “Atheists Become Emotionally Aroused When Daring God to Do Terrible Things,” researchers asked subjects to make the horrible statements mentioned above. Some statements were offensive (puppy kicking), some were malevolent (parents drowning), and some dared God to do awful stuff, to the subjects, their friends, or their families. Of the 29 subjects, 16 were self-described atheists and 13 were religious . . . .

Then subjects were asked to read aloud the statements while hooked up to a skin-conductance meter, which basically measures how much you sweat. The idea is that the more you perspire, the more worked up you are about a particular statement . . . . According to the skin-conductance tests, the atheists found asking God to harm them or others to be just as upsetting as religious folks did. The researchers also compared the reactions of the atheists when making statements like “I wish my parents were paralyzed” and “I dare God to paralyze my parents.” Atheists were, like believers, more bothered by the latter statement, if you believe the skin-conductance tests.

A number of comments responding to the post pointed out that the study may not prove very much. Perhaps the atheists were still affected by things they were taught as children, and so forth. What struck me, though, was Bartlett’s reference to the “supernatural.”

Read More


Speaking of kids and the Bible in church, I remember another Sunday not that long ago, again a


Speaking of kids and the Bible in church, I remember another Sunday, again at my very respectable Presbyterian church, when a group of rather young children, maybe grades K-2nd or so, sang two songs in the main service. The first was a “fun” upbeat song about Noah’s ark. You may have heard it before. You can get a YouTube version of it here. The second song was about how God loves us and will always take be there to take care of us (I think it was long those lines). The problem is that the kids left out several very important parts of the Noah story. So, I’ve written a few new verses for the song that I think should always be included in it from now on. They are:

Last Sunday (2/24) at the Presbyterian church I attend, a group of kids, grades 4-6 I’d say, gave a brief performance on the “fruit of the Spirit” (based on Galatians 5:22-23). The adult leaders of the group did a very nice job making the presentation creative and interesting. They had set up a slide show to accompany the various recitations done by the kids. My favorite slide showed a still image of the “wait” symbol that you often see on a computer – a series of lines flashing around in a circle. I, and others I’m pretty sure, thought that something had malfunctioned with the slide show. But, no, it was Read More