Not long ago, I blogged the news that it’s better to give than to receive. Now comes the news that going to church is good for you. It’s almost like there was some kind of supernatural agency that wanted us to know how we could have better lives. (I blogged this on the web site at my church, but the original article was in the NY Times.)
Compared with a control group, the people keeping the gratitude journal were more optimistic and felt happier. They reported fewer physical problems and spent more time working out.
Further benefits were observed in a study of polio survivors and other people with neuromuscular problems. The ones who kept a gratitude journal reported feeling happier and more optimistic than those in a control group, and these reports were corroborated by observations from their spouses. These grateful people also fell asleep more quickly at night, slept longer and woke up feeling more refreshed.
Think about that: the Bible tells you to do something that will make you more optimistic and feel happier, that will help you get to sleep quicker, sleep longer, and wake up feeling more refreshed!
That’s in the Bible! It’s not just about drudgery imposed on us by a mean-spirited cosmic killjoy. In fact, it’s almost like our heavenly Father knows how to give good gifts.
Nicholas Kristof has another column about the awful reality of human trafficking. (Reader discretion advised.)
So for those of you doubtful that “modern slavery” really is an issue for the new international agenda, think of Srey Pov—and multiply her by millions. If what such girls experience isn’t slavery, that word has no meaning. It’s time for a 21st-century abolitionist movement in the U.S. and around the world.
I agree. I don’t know how to solve that problem, but I like the work that Gary Haugen is doing at International Justice Mission. If you’re looking for an unconventional Christmas present, or a charity to support before the year-end, consider them.
(Via Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution, who sadly concurs with that “millions” factor in Kristof’s article.)
John Tierney blogs about free will in the Science section of Monday’s New York Times. He’s coming from a non-religious scientific point of view, but here’s the takeaway:
… [people] pragmatically intuit that regardless of whether free will exists, our society depends on everyone’s believing it does. The benefits of this belief have been demonstrated in other research showing that when people doubt free will, they do worse at their jobs and are less honest.
Tierney summarizes some of that research, which shows that determinists are quicker to cheat than people who believe in free will.
However, I would have liked Tierney to address another concern: the presupposition that the universe is deterministic. Is that what scientists think? I was under the impression scientists had identified non-deterministic phenomena in the universe, like radioactive decay. While you can determine the half-life of a radioactive isotope, you can’t predict when an individual atom of that material will decay. Is that deterministic? In other words, if you could wind the universe up again and start over from the same initial state, would those atoms all decay at exactly the same moment they did the first time? If so, wouldn’t that be prediction?
From a couple of weeks ago, a brief article in the New York Times on the importance of the King James Bible. This year is the 400th anniversary of its printing. I’ve been writing short articles about the King James Bible, and I suppose I should upload them here.