Science and Religion: Two Opposing Forces in Society?

For centuries, religious leaders and scientists have lived in conflict. In many cases, the two beliefs seem to contradict. People with firm religious beliefs have a hard time accepting other possible explanations for the world around them, and scientists struggle to understand the significance of a theory that lacks empirical roots.

There are many experts, however, who have delved deeply into both areas and discovered that they may in fact coincide.

Albert Einstein is a famous example. In his article “Religion and Science,” Einstein discusses human nature and its impact on religion, the evolution of religion throughout history. He explains that religion began as a fear-based impulse, and eventually became a moral religion. “The Jewish scriptures admirably illustrate the development from the religion of fear to moral religion, a development continued in the new Testament.”

Einstein goes on to explain that all types of religion have one point in common- the “anthropomorphic character of their conception of God.” Religion also fulfills the individual who “feels the futility of human desires and aims and the sublimity and marvelous order which reveal themselves both in nature and in the world of thought…he wants to experience the universe as a single, significant whole.”

After going into additional detail, Einstein points out: “We thus arrive at a conception of the relation of science to religion very different from the usual one. When on views the matter historically, one is inclined to look upon science and religion as irreconcilable antagonists, and for a very obvious reason.” However, Einstein maintains that “the cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest motive for scientific research… It is cosmic religious feeling that gives a man such strength. A contemporary has said, not unjustly, that in this materialistic age of ours the serious scientific workers are the only profoundly religious people.”

Einstein’s complete article was published in the New York Times Magazine, and can be viewed here.

Other people find different correlations between science and religion. Spiritual leaders often discuss the importance of science and its significance in religion. Rabbi Tully Bryks, for example, discusses his approach to the issue on his website. He writes: “Since G-d is the one who created the world, a world which contains all the laws of science and nature, there can never be a conflict between science and the Torah (Old Testament). If there does appear to be a conflict, it means that we either need to get a better understanding of the Torah, a better understanding of the science, or perhaps we need a better understanding of both.”

William Lane Craig, a Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology also brings forth several points which tie science and religion together in “What is the Relation Between Science and Religion”:

  • Religion furnished the conceptual framework in which science can flourish.
  • Science can both falsify and verify claims of religion.
  • Science encounters metaphysical problems which religion can help solve.
  • Religion can help adjudicate between scientific theories.
  • Religion can augment the explanatory power of science.
  • Science can establish a premise in an argument for a conclusion having religious significance.

 

Society America: Scientific Data

 

Since 2008, individuals – both professional and volunteers – interested in various scientific aspects of society America have been working toward gaining data on the “important phases in the annual life cycles of plants and animals.”  This has been coordinated through ‘Nature’s Notebook,’ a multi-taxa phenology observation program based in Virginia.  The idea behind the program is, that to understand the animals in American society, the USA National Phenology Network is investigating both plant and animal activity throughout the nation. Today, the program boasts over 2,500 active participants and contributions from 2.3 million people.

Just two weeks ago, a presentation was held to publicize these findings.  Held at the Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey in Virginia at the Office of Communications and Publishing, the presentation provided a general overview of the network, its partners and participants as well as local and national-scale projects.  It also looked at invasive species, as well as trends in phenology in the past and what is likely to happen in this realm in the future.

Profiles in History: John Deere Innovation

About 175 years ago a blacksmith named John Deere discovered an innovative way to help the hardworking farmers that lived around him near his home in Grand Detour, Illinois. Deere, who produced the usual equipment necessary for prairie life like hayforks, horseshoes and more, was inspired by a broken steel sawmill blade.

John Deere Plow
John Deere Plow

Deere knew that one of the cumbersome aspects of farming on the prairie was the sticky soil which needed to be frequently cleaned off their cast-iron plows. According to amateur historian Thurston Shapell, who presented a series of profiles in the history or the prairie in an article he wrote, Deere also knew that the soil easily slid off of highly polished steel moldboards. But because steel was in short supply in the Illinois of the 19th century, Deere created a moldboard from the second-hand blade which would otherwise have been discarded.

Deere created a revolutionary plow which was able to speed up the farmer’s work considerably. But not only was the material innovative, so was the shape of the plow. After slowly increasing the manufacturing of the new plow, sales took off, and by 1849 (11 years after first having the idea) Deere was producing 2000 plows.

Today the John Deere company is one of the country’s key manufacturers of modern farming equipment, but it all began back in 1937 with a broken steel blade.

Geography America: Supermarket Watch

To form an understanding of the diversity in geography America’s landscape, one angle is assessing the country’s food and supermarket changes over the years over various regions.  There are many different types of supermarkets, based often on the nation’s geographical boundaries and preferences.  But even so, the staples carried in the markets are largely the same throughout geography America. 

In an IBISWorld report published in April 2013, it was found that American markets and grocery stores have encountered both quantity and quality decline since 2008, impacting geography America’s economic outlook.  This has been connected to the recession which has impacted employment and thereafter household disposable income.  In turn, this has led to escalated spending on generic brands and discounted items. 

When the economy is affected, supermarkets have to respond.  Thus Walmart and Costco – which were already appealing to those with lower disposable incomes – throughout America are faring well, increasing profit margins.  When the economy started showing signs of recovery, supermarkets were able to increase prices.

But in terms of popular food items throughout the country, when it comes to brands, there is a larger geography of food that needs to be considered.  For example, in the south and western parts of the nation, one will find a particular type of corn chip to be very popular.  But then in other geographical parts of America, there are certain chips that can only be found there and not in other areas of geography America.  It seems that those who live by the Potomac River are not fans of sweet teas but in other geographical areas that is not the case.

Nonetheless, it is not all about differences when it comes to assessing geographical America’s supermarkets.  Indeed, due to advanced transportation capacities, grocery stores are actually quite similar throughout the nation.  They still all have shopping carts – that were invented nearly 80 years ago and most of them boast their own bakeries as well, usually placed far away from the door so that the smell of freshly baked goodies permeates to all who enter the market.  Indeed, there is also a concept of supermarket geography America which translates into a study of where the items are placed in the market, for it to gain the highest profit margin.

Creative Incentives to Boost Business

According to the Wall Street Journal, smaller and regional banks are offering big incentives to draw new business. Their efforts are especially focused on jumbo mortgages in hopes of cultivating banking relationships with high-net-worth individuals. According to BankRate.com, banks are “slashing fees or allowing borrowers to roll some of the fees into the mortgage instead of paying upfront.” Others are offering “60-day rate locks at no additional charge.”

Some banks are offering more creative incentives. Doral Bank, for example, has launched a summer promotion in collaboration with the Association of Small Hotel Owners in Puerto Rico offering a free vacation for clients who initiate a mortgage loan by the end of July, and close it by August 31st.

Javier Lugo, Doral Mortgage product manager, explained: “Now is a great moment to refinance or buy, even more when you could end up taking a vacation with your family. As part of our commitment to the community we would like to give our clients something extra. And now, your next vacations could be paid for by Doral.”

Many other businesses take a similar approach. Automakers such as BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Kia and Nissan offer car incentives and programs for college students and recent college graduates. Savings from these discount programs usually range from $500 to $1,000, if not more!

traducción español

 

Incentivos Más Creativos

De acuerdo con el Wall Street Journal, los bancos pequeños y regionales están ofreciendo grandes incentivos para atraer nuevos negocios. Estos esfuerzos están especialmente enfocados en hipotecas jumbo con la esperanza de cultivar relaciones bancarias con individuos bien conectados. De acuerdo con BankRate.com, los bancos están “recortando tasas o permitiendo a los prestatarios  atrasar parte de las tasas en la hipoteca, en lugar de pagar por adelantado.” Otros están ofreciendo “tarifas estables por 60 días sin costo adicional.”

Algunos bancos están ofreciendo incentivos más creativos. Doral Bank, por ejemplo, ha lanzado una promoción de verano en colaboración con La Asociación de Dueños de Paradores en Puerto Rico ofreciendo vacaciones gratis para los clientes que originen una hipoteca para finales de julio y lo cierren antes del 31 de agosto.

Javier Lugo, gerente de hipotecas de Doral, explicó: “Ahora es un gran momento para refinanciar o comprar, incluso más cuando podrías terminar tomando unas vacaciones con tu familia. Como parte de nuestro compromiso con la comunidad nos gustaría darles a nuestros clientes algo adicional. Y ahora, tus próximas vacaciones podrían ser cortesía de Doral.”

Muchos negocios tienen programas parecidos. Los fabricantes de automóviles como BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, KIA y Nissan ofrecen incentivos para autos y programas para estudiantes universitarios y estudiantes recién graduados de la universidad. Los ahorros con estos programas de descuentos usualmente van desde $500 a $1,000, ¡si no más!

English Translation

Geography America

Geography America has undergone significant changes since the Great Recession, most notably from 2007.   Various suburbs – especially those in the Southern region – are turning into slums as many individuals are returning to dense core cities. Also of note is what was discovered by demographer Wendell Cox in his analysis. Almost all 20 states that gained additional residents between 2007 and 2012 are found in suburbs from larger cities, mostly California, except Portland. What this means when analyzing geography America is that expansion is developing the fastest in the Southern region, suburban cities and municipalities that are more spread-out.

Further, the study did not reveal a revival of the older, dense cities.  Most cities that grew significantly after 2007 were in the Southern region, such as El Paso, Raleigh and Ft. Worth, and out of the metropolitan areas like Bakersfield, Durham and Corpus Christi.  In addition, suburban cities performed very well including: Irvine (that came in third place); Fremont and Oxnard.

One analyzing current geography America trends can learn the following from these results:  Americans are still moving to more spacious cities that have opportunities for job creation and it is easier to get into schools because they are less populated.  Even if one just looks at the migration figures between 2010 and 2012, it seems to suggest that suburban areas are still the most attractive and the denser the area, the lower the popularity.  Even though there has been a slight decline in growth of suburban locales in the last decade, compared to other areas, these regions have still witnessed a substantial increase.

Humble Thank-You Note Marks Kennedy’s First Step to the White House

Shapell Manuscript Foundation
Joe Sr., Joe Jr. and John Kennedy

It is an American myth that John F. Kennedy, despite his shortened term as President, brutally terminated by an assassin’s bullet, was one of the most beloved of presidents. He was a symbol of youth for the emerging baby boomers who were just coming of age; he was a war hero; his ideas were imaginative and bold; and he reached towards the future with both hands and heart wide open. His administration was often compared to that utopian dream world of Camelot, complete with a stunning and smart Guinevere in Jacqueline, Kennedy’s talented first lady.

Not many people know that except for a tragic event in the Kennedy family, John would most likely not have become the adored politician and president that he eventually became. In August 1944, one year after Kennedy’s heroic rescue of his crew on the PT-109 in the Solomon Islands of the South Pacific, beloved brother Joseph Jr. was killed over England when his plane exploded during a secret, dangerous mission. The entire family mourned, but the family’s patriarch, Joseph Sr. was especially devastated. Joe the father had big plans for his eldest son: he was grooming him to one day become the President of the United States. But just because the object of Joe’s dreams was no longer alive it did not mean the dream could not be transferred to the next son down, John.

“I went into politics because Joe died,” he said, adding “if anything happened to me tomorrow, my brother Bobby would run… And if Bobby died, Teddy would take over for him,” Kennedy once said.

The moment of truth when John became the next in line, can be dated to September 1, 1944, in a letter in the possession of the Shapell Manuscript Foundation, which is closely associated with The Benjamin Shapell Family Manuscript Foundation. The letter is a thank-you note, written by Kennedy to a Miss Forbush, thanking her for her “prayers at the time of my brother’s death.”

This thoughtful note from Kennedy can be thought of as the first step on the long road to Camelot, finally realized in the 1960 elections.

Yale University and Philanthropy

yale-universityIn honor of his ancestor the Reverend James Pierpont, John K. Castle of Castle Harlan sponsors a lecture series known as The Castle Lectures.  These lectures seek to “promote reflection on the moral foundations of society and government and to enhance the understanding of ethical issues facing individuals in our complex modern society.”

Philanthropy is an important part of Yale University’s philosophy. For the last eight years, the University has organized a Philanthropy Conference.  Chaired by Patrick Briaud, Lisa Nussbaum and Theresa Wilson, this gathering each year “explores salient topics in philanthropy to foster dialogue, strengthen networks, and cultivate leadership.”

Last month, as part of the Castle Lecture series, one topic was addressed by Peter Singer and Ira W. DeCamp.  The title, “Effective Altruism” enabled them to inform the audience how they live their lives altruistically and the choices that they make to make this lifestyle possible.

This is one way forward for American society.  The Castle Lectures, together with the Philanthropy Conference, are indicative of Yale University adopting a philanthropic-based philosophy in its work.

Anthropology: America’s Immigrants

america anthropologyTaking a look at news on the subject of anthropology America, it seems that according to a new report put together by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, US immigrants are arriving from different regions than they were say 20 years ago.  It has been a slow but steady change.  In the early 1990s, the country’s immigrants hailed mainly from Europe and Latin America. These days though, there is a higher proportion coming from both Africa and Asia.  These figures should only be taken into account however, when examining the legal ramifications of anthropology America’s fluctuations over the years.  These figures just cover the legal immigrants and it has been estimated by the Pew foundation that there are over 11 million unauthorized immigrants in America, most of whom hail from the Caribbean and Latin America.

Even though there has been and continues to be a large influx of illegal immigrants in American society, it should be noted that the greatest amount of foreign-born individuals in America (around 75 percent) are legal immigrants, a trend that is continuing.  As well, since around 2007 when looking at anthropological movements in America, the amount of illegal immigrants has decreased.  It is unsure however whether this is due to the country’s less-than-stable economy or because of more effective law enforcement.