Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Don't repeat wrong 'facts'

We may fall into a trap of "assuming" that what someone claims is factual really is a fact -- that is, completely true. That's how we get led astray and repeat bad information.

Below are a few "facts" that many believe to be true yet are not (I've repeated a few of these errors myself). These come from an article at Ministry Matters.
  • Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute
  • John Wesley never said, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.”
  • John Wesley never said, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity."
  • Gehenna was not a garbage dump.
So what can we do? Don't automatically "assume" that because a person you like or trust makes a claim that it's really true. Be willing to check out "facts" before you repeat them.

With another election season coming up this fall, that trait will stand you in good stead. It seems that many politicians hope we will just trust what they claim and repeat it as fact. The result can be voting against our own best interests. Check out the facts from reliable sources. Repeat only truths.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Religion led to cities?

Did the urge to worship together spark civilization? The June 2001 National Geographic magazine has an interesting article on "The Birth of Religion".

The author says we used to think that increased agriculture moved humans from a nomadic society to one using cities. An archaeological dig in Turkey makes those assumptions suspect, though.

The dig's implications lead him to conclude that wonder at the changes in the natural world led to religion. The earth's warming after the last ice age led to this wonder. The author suggests that gathering together for worship created a need for food. This in turn led to increased farming and cities.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Quote of note

“When we advertise the gospel in terms of the world’s values, we lie to people. We lie to them, because this is a new life. It involves following Jesus. It involves the Cross. It involves death, . . . We give up our lives.”

-- Eugene Peterson, author of The Message, expressing concern about using the language of our culture to interpret the Gospel.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Babies born helpful

Are we born helpful by nature? Could altruism bebuilt into our genes? Why do we seem to lose that focus as we age?

Digging through some old web links I had collected, I came across one to an article about research indicating that babies are naturally helpful.

Children can also be selfish, but Dr. Michael Tomasello says that we can encourage the almost reflexive behavior to help others. How? By inductive parenting -- telling children about the effect of their actions on others and stressing the logic of cooperating with others.

Don't you wish that more politicians had received good inductive parenting?

Friday, July 01, 2011

Constitution writers were Christians

An interesting factoid, derived from a posting by Bill Federer in "The Moral LIberal" blog. The religious composition of the 55 writers of the U.S. Constitution was:
  • 26 Episcopalians
  • 11 Presbyterians
  • 7 Congregationalists
  • 2 Lutherans
  • 2 Dutch Reformed Christians
  • 2 Methodists
  • 2 Quakers
  • 2 Roman Catholics
  • 1 Deist Christian – Dr. Franklin, who called for prayer during the Constitutional Convention, June 28, 1787.