On the Foreign Policy website, you can read a fascinating collection of survey data about the attitudes of London Muslims compared to the British public at large. As the commentary notes,
A 2006 Pew poll of the British public found that British Muslims, when asked to cite the source of their primary identity, overwhelmingly chose their faith, while the majority of the British public chose their country. The finding set off alarm bells in a nervous Britain still reeling from the 7/7 attacks and was widely cited as proof that the country suffers from a crisis of integration.
The chart looks like this:
This comes as no surprise: the British public, largely secular and post-Christian, does not suffer from the conflict of interest between religion and state (God and Caesar, as Christ put it). What is surprising is that this does not prevent British Muslims from identifying themselves as Brits and as Muslims:
This is most fascinating, and, from my perspective, a cause for optimism, especially when coupled with this chart:
British Muslims strongly believe that getting a good education and becoming involved in public life are the most important aspects of integrating. Presumably, following survey data with which we’re all familiar, as the Muslim public becomes better educated and more fully integrated into a post-religious society, they will become less attached to their faith, and perhaps even just as tolerant and cosmopolitan as those 78% of Brits who don’t think becoming less religious is important…
Via the Design Observer, a complete scan of Bertrand Russell’s The Good Citizen’s Alphabet.
It is fascinating to think back to the early 1950s. A couple of Polish émigrés, having studied physics, architecture and painting, and having made a few art films and started a publishing company, sit down with a leading philosopher to make something whimsical and subversive. That an alphabet book was the outcome pleases me to no end.
The Jewish Atheist has created some very interesting statistics on the relationship between a person’s vocabulary scores and their religious beliefs:
Here are some things I’ve come up with:
People who score higher on the vocabulary test are much less likely to believe that the Bible is “the word of God,” to be “fundamentalist,” to believe “God concerned with human beings personally,” to consider church “very important,” or to believe that “atheists shouldn’t hold public office.”
Here’s one of his graphs:
A new Gallup poll indicates that most Americans who identify themselves as “religious” are “content to be personally religious or do individual conversion attempts.”
Recently collected Gallup Poll data suggest that most highly religious Americans either believe that they can be personally religious without needing to spread their beliefs, or that they can best spread their beliefs by converting others to their religion. Only a small percentage of highly religious Americans — 15% — believe the best way to spread their religion is to change society to conform to their religious beliefs.
The majority of highly religious Americans believe that they do not need to change the society around them to conform to their religious beliefs, but instead can live the best possible personal religious life, or focus on one-on-one conversion.
Because they wouldn’t have a chance.
The results of this Gallup poll indicate that Americans would be more willing to vote for a homosexual president than an atheist.
The poll was mainly meant to feel out the stigmas attached to Presidential hopefuls: Hilary the woman, Obama the black man, Giuliani the divorcee, McCain the old man, etc. As far as I know, no heretics or gays are serious candidates.
In the Chronicle, Texas professor Robert Solomon defends existentialism from its critics and those who misunderstand its premise:
Only a few weeks ago I heard a radio commentator declare that the “nothing really matters” lyric from Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” was truly “existential.” And I still hear pundits and some of my university colleagues decry existentialism as the source of our nihilistic gloom, the reason why our students don’t vote and why they experiment with dangerous drugs. I listen to such comments with a mix of amusement and horror because I like existentialism and I think that existentialism, not pessimism, is what America needs right now.
Sometimes it’s a little too good:
There are no facts, only interpretations.
From an account in the Guardian, written by a “sisterwife” who is part of a practicing polygamist group in Mississippi:
We all live in the same house. We have a bunk-bed double on the bottom and single on the top. Husband, first wife and the “ON” wife sleep on the bottom and the other two “OFF” wives sleep above. We find this very intimate as we all are sleeping in the same bed though on different levels and we can still feel and hear what is happening when sex happens in our bed.
Relationships between us sisterwives are in the main quite good as our first wife Hanna is the main force in our household and will settle most of the disputes between the other wives herself without our husband being involved. There are jealousies – this is inevitable between any group of women living closely together. Our husband does his best to be fair to all of us but we all have our own opinion of what is fair, don’t we.