Tag Archives: Science

Re-defining God with the New Science of “Emergence”

9780807073391by Nancy Ellen Abrams, author of A God That Could Be Real:  Spirituality, Science, and the Future of Our Planet (Beacon Press, March 2015)

We are living at the dawn of a new picture of the universe. We now know that everything visible with our best telescopes is less than one percent of what’s really out there. Our universe is made almost entirely of “dark matter” and “dark energy” – two invisible, dynamic presences whose 13.8 billion year competition with each other has spun the galaxies into being and thus created the only possible homes for evolution and life. This must change how we think about God. Continue reading

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Prevailing Treatments for Addiction Just Don’t Work

9780807033159By Lance Dodes and Zachary Dodes, authors of The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry (Beacon Press, 2015)

The major current interventions for alcoholism and other addictions are based on some terribly flawed science, and have startlingly poor success rates. These are the key findings within our 2014 book, The Sober Truth.

My co-author and I reviewed every major scientific study examining outcomes for AA and 12-step-based rehabilitation programs, and found that the most likely success rate for these programs falls somewhere between 5% and 10%. This wasn’t our finding alone; an exhaustive scientific review by the prestigious Cochrane Collection which examined all AA studies over 40 years came to an even more damning conclusion, disclosing that “No experimental studies unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of AA” at all. Continue reading

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Why God Did Not Create the Universe

THE GRAND DESIGN by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow

by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, authors of The Grand Design (Bantam, 2010)

According to Viking mythology, eclipses occur when two wolves, Skoll and Hati, catch the sun or moon. At the onset of an eclipse people would make lots of noise, hoping to scare the wolves away. After some time, people must have noticed that the eclipses ended regardless of whether they ran around banging on pots.

Ignorance of nature’s ways led people in ancient times to postulate many myths in an effort to make sense of their world. But eventually, people turned to philosophy, that is, to the use of reason—with a good dose of intuition—to decipher their universe. Today we use reason, mathematics and experimental test—in other words, modern science. Continue reading

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Ecoliteracy 2.0

ECOLOGICAL INTELLIGENCE by Daniel Goleman

by Daniel Goleman, author of  Ecological Intelligence: The Hidden Impacts of What We Buy (Broadway Business, 2010), a book selected by Virginia Tech for its 2009 and 2010 Common Book Project.

Near the start of the 20th century William James wrote that “an education in attention would be the education par excellence.” That was then.

Today, a century after James, I argue that the most crucial education would be in ecological intelligence—and that this demands rethinking and updating curricula in ecoliteracy in fields ranging from physics and chemistry to business and psychology.

Let me explain what I mean by ‘ecological intelligence’. Continue reading

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Your Brain on Swine Flu

The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley

by Amanda Ripley, author of The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes—and Why and a contributor to TIME Magazine.

One of the strange things about influenza pandemics is that they happen in slow motion, giving us time to reflect.
Looking back, it’s clear that one major challenge was (and will be) striking the elusive balance between reasonable mobilization and overreaction. We want people to wash their hands and stay home when they are sick; we don’t want people to stone buses carrying a sick passenger from another country.

How do we dial up—or down—our response to a pandemic in real time? It might help to shape public warnings and communication according to how the brain actually works. Continue reading

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Is Empathy Hardwired?

The Age of Empathy by Dr. Frans De Waal

The Age of Empathy by Dr. Frans De Waal

World-renown primatologist Dr. Frans De Waal’s new book, The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society, draws upon decades of research and study, considering such fundamental questions as: Do we have an instinct for compassion?  Or is everything we do motivated simply by innate self-interest?

The book has received a lot of interest; most recently, the Wall Street Journal published an interesting review accompanied by compelling video and images, and the Los Angeles Times pondered the book’s central argument in light of all of the recent negative events (i.e. the War on Terror, the financial meltdown, the ongoing unrest in the Middle East) triggered by humans at the dawn of this still very new century.

You can read an excerpt here, and visit the author’s website for more information.

So what do you think of this newest chapter in the nature versus nurture debate?  Is empathy really hardwired?  If so, what does that mean for us?

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