All posts filed under: Studies

Marijuana being illegally grown in North Cascades National Park in the US. Credit: Park Ranger/Flickr/Creative Commons

Medical journal condemns Canada’s plan to legalize Marijuana in 2018

As the Canadian government pushes ahead to legalize Marijuana, the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) published an editorial condemning the proposed legislation. The Liberal government plans to legalize Marijuana by June 2018, fulfilling a campaign promise. According to Global News that reported on the CMAJ editorial, the legislation in its current form would: Legalize the recreational use of the drug for anyone 18 years of age and older. Allow Marijuana to be grown at home for personal use, but would limit the number of plants to four and height to under one meter. Not control the potency of Marijuana. CMAJ is concerned because several studies show that Marijuana usage can have a profound impact on the developing brain of a young person. In its editorial, the publication stated since a person’s brain is not fully developed until 25, legalizing the drug before that age could potentially have a devastating impact. Recently, several studies have shown that regular marijuana usage can distort and shrink the developing brain of a teen. It can result in increased rates …

Credit: Ruby Babson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Forgive for your heart’s sake

When Jesus spoke on forgiveness He was very clear on one thing: if we don’t forgive those who offend us, God would not forgive us. 14 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matthew 6:14-15 NASV) I sometimes wonder if we struggle to forgive ourselves for things that we have done in the past, that it is a sign of spiritual blockages caused by our unwillingness to forgive. These blockages hinder us from fully experiencing God’s forgiveness. But an article on John Hopkins Medicine, Forgiveness: Your Health depends on It, provides one more reason to forgive. We need to do it for the sake of our physical health. Like many of God’s commandments, such as circumcision that improves a man’s health, the need to forgive is another section in God’s user’s manual on proper operation of the human body. According to the John Hopkins’ article, studies show that people who hold grudges and …

Balaam's donkey could count. Credit: JohnBWilson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Can horses count and does it matter?

I have always wondered what is going on in my dog’s mind other than the obvious – did I leave the cupboard door open to the garbage can? In 2008, Dr Claudia Uller from the University of Essex in Essex, England was speaking at the British Psychological Society conference in Dublin, Ireland when she announced that horses can count. She came to this conclusion based on a study she conducted along with Jennifer Lewis on 13 horses from Colchester, England. In the study, they had several buckets in which they placed either three apples or two apples. They only used plastic apples to eliminate the possibility that smell affected the results. They found in their testing that 11 of the 13 horses consistently chose the buckets with the most apples. In a second test they had buckets containing either two equally sized small apples or one large apple that was double the size of the two smaller apples, making them equal in amount. Ten of the 12 horses consistently chose the two apple containers over …

Nambia desert Credit: John Adams/Flickr/Creative Commons

Healing our rejection

Using a MRI scan university researchers discovered that emotional pain associated with rejection is as real as physical pain. In 2011, the group led by University of Michigan associate professor Ethan Kross studied 40 people who had recently gone through a romantic break-up within the previous six months. All the participants chosen mentioned having felt intense feelings of rejection due to the ending of the relationship. The 40 people were then put through two tests one related to the emotional pain they felt over the rejection and the other actual physical pain. In the first test, the study subjects viewed an image of their ex and were asked to think about the break up.  In the second stage, thermal devices were attached to their arms that created heat the equivalent of hot coffee. As the 40 people went through these and other comparative tests, the researchers monitored their brain activity using MRIs. The researchers found that feelings of rejection sparked neural activity in the same area of the brain where people felt physical pain. In …

Pray for those who mistreat you. Credit: MissTessmacher/Flickr/Creative Commons

Study: prayer calms the angry heart

A 2011 study conducted by researchers from universities in America and Europe concluded that prayer helps a person calm their anger. The study conducted by Brad Bushman a psychology and communications professor from Ohio State University, Sander Koole of Holland’s VU University of Amsterdam and University of Michigan’s Ryan Bremner found that prayer quelled a person’s anger even if they were not particularly religious. There were various stages to this study. In one session, the researchers asked the participants in the study to to write a paper that was then evaluated by a partner who purposely and aggressively criticized the paper. They were extremely negative about what the participant had wrote. They then had some participants of the study group think about what their partner had said and others spend five minutes praying for them. Once they had gone through this process, the participants then played a game with their partner. If the participant won, they were allowed to blast their partner with loud music. The participant also determined how loud the music was and …

Children need married parents to thrive Credit: buck82/Flickr/Creative Commons

Children do better when parents are married versus living together

A recent study by the Institute for Family Studies found that children raised in a family where parents marry have the best chance of success. The study reported in The Federalist analyzed data from 100 countries. The study found that where there is no marriage commitment — this included situations where both of the child’s biological parents were living together — there was a greater chance the child would face a union transition. This takes place when parents end their relationship and start a new sexual relationship. These types of transition create a major time of instability for children often resulting in emotional and behavioral problems, educational difficulties and even a higher risk of death for the child. The report stated that “[C]ohabitation continues to confer a stability disadvantage on individual children even as cohabitation has become more normative.” The report disputes those who suggest that because of the rise in rates cohabitation it should be looked upon as the new form of marriage. Writing for The Federalist, Holly Scheer said: “Couples who commit to …

Ho Chi Minh city (formerly Saigon) Viet Nam. Credit: Colin Key/Flickr/Creative Commons

Original sin

Studies show that the average person lies about 100 times a day. As one writer tactfully noted, this was not talking about you specifically, but the average person. In the study, published in the Journal of Basic and Applied Psychology, University of Massachusetts psychologist Robert Feldman recruited 121 pairs of men and women attending classes at the university to take part in the study. They had no idea what it involved at this point. They were then brought together and asked to have conversations with the other participants. Most of them did not know each other. They were unaware that the conversations were being recorded and researchers received the required permission after, before moving to the next stage. The students were then asked to view the video and to pick out the lies — from the most innocent to the most blatant. They found that over 60% of the participants lied within the first ten minutes of their conversation and told an average of 2.92 lies. They found men and women lied the same amount, …

Credit: Antonio Ponte/Flickr/Creative Commons

Sex addiction is real

Dr. Stefanie Carnes is president of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP). She recently came out against those in the therapy community who do not believe people can be sex addicts. IITAP provides materials and support for those working in the addiction community. She pointed to several studies that show sex addiction is a very real problem. In particular, she cited the recent research of Ji-Woo Seok and Jin-Hun Sohn at Chungnam National University in South Korea. The two work at the university’s brain research institute. Their findings confirmed what earlier studies have shown — sex addiction is real for both men and women. In their study, Seok and Sohn found that people with a sex addiction share many similarities to those with alcohol and drug addictions. Like other addicts, those with a sex addiction spend an inordinate amount of time searching for pornography to satisfy their craving. Sex addicts have the same level of sexual desire as the normal population, but similar to other addictions have a higher degree of wanting …

Credit: Josh & Karen Tanenbarum/Flickr/Creative Commons

Baby Sinners?

A study by Dr. Vasudevi Reddy, of the Psychology Department at the University of Portsmouth, showed babies learn to lie before they learn to speak.  Her conclusions were reported in the April 2007 edition of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Dr. Reddy stated that lying started as early as six months. She says through trial and error, babies gain a better understanding in what situations lies work best and by seven months many infants are skilled in the art of deceit. Reddy’s conclusion flies in the face of many behavioral psychologists who — convinced of man’s eternal goodness — don’t believe children start lying until they are four years of age or older, when their brains are more developed. (By this age some argue lying is a learned behavior not an innate one.) But others, mostly parents, have had nagging suspicions that their sweet, innocent child had a dark side. In the course of her research, Reddy studied 50 children and did extensive interviews with their parents. Through this process, Reddy identified a …

Credit: elvin/Flickr/Creative Commons

Why is male circumcision making a come back?

At one point the circumcision of male boys shortly after birth was the standard practice in North America and Europe. But over the last several decades, the procedure has fallen out of favor and there has been a steady decline in the number of boys being circumcised. But now there has been an upsurge in men, now adults, wanting to be circumcised and new procedures are being developed to do it, some almost painless. Though there are those who absolutely oppose male circumcision, and even link it to female circumcision which is brutal and unnecessary procedure, studies show that male circumcision has significant health benefits. On its website, the World Health Organization noted that several studies revealed that male circumcision reduces the chances of contracting HIV by upwards of 60%. In one multi-year study being conducted on African men, researchers were so astounded by the reduced HIV contraction that they stopped the study half-way through and told the men in the uncircumcised study group to get circumcised. As part of its goal to eradicate HIV …

This is how snowblowers are supposed to work. Credit: Jon/Flickr/Creative Commons

Complain, complain, complain — it affects the brain

Social researchers tell us when having a conversation most people utter one complaint about every minute. I easily fill that quota. If I am not complaining about the weather, I am complaining about something the government did or our city’s losing pro-football team. However, my favorite whipping boy recently has been my snowblower. For the past three weeks it has gone AWOL — refusing to start. I had a friend come over who is very familiar with these type of mechanical devices, but even he couldn’t get it going. So we threw it in the back of a half tone, and took it in for service, and as my luck had it, the warranty ran out a month earlier, so it wouldn’t be covered. They got it going and the serviceman even started it to show it was now working. Of course, as soon as I got it home and we had our first snowfall, the snowblower refused to start again and I had to shovel by hand. I was not a happy camper. I had …

Credit: Scott Fiddelke/Flickr/Creative Commons

What should we tell our kids about Santa?

My son was about five or six years old when he motioned for me to come to our front window. It was December and our front yard was blanketed with a fresh layer of snow. We lived on the edge of the city and wild life made regular forays into our front yard. As I went to the window I saw a trail of rabbit tracks wandering through the snow. My son then explained those were the tracks of Santa’s reindeer. He must have been in our yard the night before. My wife and I had decided to tell our children that Santa was not real, with the proviso that they were not to say anything about it to the other kids. But my son saw Santa in the malls and on TV. At his Christian pre-school, many of the kids were talking about Santa and my son wanted to believe in Santa as well and now he was trying to convince me those tracks were evidence Santa existed. I told him that those were …

Church in Iceland Credit: washingtonnydc/Flickr/Creative Commons

Survey shows believing the Bible the key to church growth

According to survey by researchers in Ontario, Canada, churches with Conservative, Bible-based theology are the fastest growing of Christian churches. In fact, the membership numbers for churches that have rejected a literal interpretation of the Bible are in a free fall. According to the English newspaper, The Guardian, attendance at liberal mainline churches in Canada has dropped by 50% since the 1960s and in England Sunday attendance at the largely liberal Church of England has fallen by a similar percentage since the 1980s. The research team led by David Haskell described those with a “conservative Protestant theology” as the “clear winner.” In their report entitled “Theology Matters: Comparing the Traits of Growing and Declining Churches” the group surveyed 2,225 people attending churches in Ontario and conducted more in-depth interviews with 195 church attendees and 29 clergy. According to The Guardian, while studies in the past concluded that theology had no impact on church growth, this survey showed it clearly did. Haskell noted that growing churches “held more firmly to the traditional beliefs of Christianity and …

People walking the streets of Shanghai, China Credit: Richard Schneider/Flickr/Creative Commons

Respected scientist believes in the existence of the soul

Sir Roger Penrose, 85, is a respected and award-winning mathematical physicist in England. He serves as the Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at University of Oxford’s Mathematical Institute. His awards include the Wolf Prize won in 1988 that he shared with Stephen Hawkings. His most recent awards include the De Morgan medal (2004) that is handed out every three years by the London Mathematics Society and the Copley Medal (2006) awarded by London’s Royal Society for outstanding research achievements in any branch of science. It is considered the world’s oldest scientific award. Penrose ranks among the greats — Einstein and Hawkings. He has also developed many theories during his lifetime, but perhaps his most intriguing is his belief in a human soul that continues to exist after a person dies. According to an article in The Sun, he describes the soul as a “packet of information stored at a quantum – or sub-atomic level.” When a person dies this information is released intact into the universe but will return to the human body if …

Park Rangers destroying one of 6 Marijuana fields found in North Cascades National Park Complex Photo: Park Ranger/Flickr

The second big winner in the US presidential election

There were two big winners in the American election held on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. Donald Trump was of course elected president in what was clearly a surprising outcome. Maybe not so surprising, the other big winner was marijuana. Three states that voted in favor of Hillary Clinton for president — Massachusetts, California and Nevada — also legalized the use of recreational Marijuana through referendum votes. Another Clinton state, Maine, also appears to have made a similar move in its initiative ballot. Though marijuana activists have declared victory, there were only a few thousand votes separating the ‘no’ and ‘yes’ sides on the ballot which has not yet been fully counted. They join five other jurisdictions that have already legalized recreational marijuana — Colorado, Alaska, Washington, Oregon and the District of Columbia, Arizona which voted for Trump rejected a similar initiative with 52% of the people voting against legalizing recreational use. In addition three states approved marijuana for medical use — North Dakota, Arkansas and Florida. Currently the federal government prohibits the recreational use of …

Is divorce a violent act? Credit: --christophe--/Flickr/Creative Commons

Does divorce impact a child’s spirituality?

One of God’s clearest denunciations of divorce is found in the book of Malachi. Speaking on behalf of God, the Prophet thunders: “For, I hate divorce.” (Malachi 2:16 NASV) Then God declares divorce an act of violence. “and him who covers his garment with wrong, (literally violence)” When the Lord says that I don’t believe He is describing the acrimony that often occurs between a man and woman when they divorce. The couple divorcing could still be friends, but the act of divorce itself is inherently violent. In the previous verses we discover the reason: 14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. 15 Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. (Malachi 2:14-15 NIV) In …

Credit: Chris Goldberg/Flickr/Creative Commons

Does this study confirm Proverbs 22:6?

In a report published in Psychological Science, researchers in a study associated with Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA have concluded a person’s home environment as a child has a profound affect on them over 60 years later. In this study, that has been ongoing for 78 years, researchers followed a group of people starting at adolescence into late life. It was a unique study as it required adding new team members to continue this multi-decade analysis. This particular aspect of the study started sixty years ago and involved 81 men, 50 whose family were connected with Harvard and 31 from an inner city area in Boston. During their early adolescent years, the selected members of the study group went through an in-depth interview, where earlier researchers gathered information on their home environment, relationship with their mom and dad and general family life. They also interviewed the parents. From this, the researchers created a profile of each person and a measurement of how nurturing their family life was. The research group interviewed these men throughout …

65% of British people believe they had an encounter with God. Photo: London England -- Ville Miettinen/Flickr/Creative Commons

British survey reveals God is still encountering people today

It is very clear when you read the Bible that God desires personal encounters with people. In the Old Testament, Moses ran into God in the wilderness through a burning bush (Exodus 3:1 – 4:17). The incident changed his life and transformed him from a shepherd to the man who led Israel out of Egypt. In the New Testament, God encountered people through the filling of the Holy Spirit. It was a dramatic event. When the Holy Spirit fell on the gentiles in Cornelius’s house, the disciples in attendance had no doubt it had happened because of what they saw (Acts 10:44-46). A meeting with God can also take on other forms. After an angel told Philip to go down a specific road he ran into the Ethiopian Eunuch who was just leaving Jerusalem (Acts 8:25-40). Puzzled by what he was reading in Isaiah, Philip’s timely arrival led to the man becoming a Christian. The eunuch worked in the treasury department for the Ethiopian Royal family (Acts 8:27). His conversion brought Christianity to that nation. According to a recent British survey, these God encounters …

Johns Hopkins study concludes there is no gay gene

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University recently released a study stating there was no conclusive evidence of a gene that causes a person to be gay, lesbian or transgender. People are not born with gay affections. This study runs contrary to what some are suggesting in recent years. The report was co-written by Johns Hopkins’ scholar in residence Lawrence Mayer who is also a statistics professor at Arizona State University and Paul McHugh a psychiatry professor at Johns Hopkins. Many consider the two men as leading scholars on mental health in America. Mayer has taught at over eight universities including Stanford and Princeton and McHugh served as chief psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins for 25 years and was also elected to the President’s council on bio ethics. In their report, entitled “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological and Social Sciences” published in The New Atlantis, the two researchers surveyed over 200 studies done on the topic in a variety of fields. They cited studies of identical twins, particularly one conducted in 2010 by a team …

Mount Ranier Photo: .aditya./Flickr/Creative Commons

Every senior needs a mountain

One of the powerful statements in the Old Testament were the words Caleb uttered as he entered the promised land under Joshua. This was the second time he had been at the edge of the land of milk and honey. The first had been under Moses, when Caleb and Joshua were among 12 men chosen to spy out the land God promised Israel. While the other spies returned with tales of giants and impenetrable walled cities, Caleb and Joshua believed they could take the land with God’s help. But the doubters won the day and Israel wandered around the desert for over 40 years until all the “negative Nellies” had died off. As Israel was poised to enter the land a second time, Caleb, now age 84, reminded Joshua of the land God had promised Caleb and his family saying: 12 Now therefore give me this mountain… (Joshua 14:12 KJV) Ever since he first spied out the land, Caleb had a vision, a sense of purpose, a goal – that this hill country would one day …

The Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks (1780-1849)

Study reveals the nature of animals as God created them

A report released by Dr. Joel Berger of the Wildlife Conversation Society says the fear of predators is not a natural instinct in animals. It is a learned behavior. This revelation is a bit of a shock for many evolutionists who believe the fear of predators is a naturally evolving instinct that enabled species to survive. Berger came to this conclusion after studying the relationship between prey and predator in 19 ecosystems in Russia, Greenland, Canada and the US. He focused specifically on elk, moose, bison and caribou and their natural predators wolves, tigers and bears. He compared systems where predators existed with those where they didn’t. He noticed that prey-animals only feared predators, if they regularly encountered them.  Once the predators were removed, prey animals lost a fear of their natural enemies. In his study, Berger played sound recordings of predators around test animals that had no predators in their area and compared their reactions to similar species that regularly encountered predators in their surroundings. Berger said “elk in the mountains of Siberia — who …

A church worship service. Photo: Joachim S. Muller/Flickr/Creative Commons

Did God create you to dance?

Should we be dancing in church? Well, if a 2006 study is correct, it appears when God created humans, He hard-wired each of us to dance — more on that in a moment. I still remember a service at a church I was attending in the 70s. The Jesus people movement was in full swing and the congregation was made up of people 30 years and younger. Back then everybody had long hair, including the girls. One particular Sunday evening service we kicked back the chairs and began dancing before the Lord. We broke up into groups, joined hands and whirled around in circles dancing and singing. The thing that struck me the most was the utter joy and excitement on people’s faces as they danced and worshiped the Lord. I was attending seminary at the time, in a denomination that frowned on this type of activity. But they faithfully preached the Bible and people were saved through this ministry. I had a professor by the name of Dr. Dahns. He was a former United Church Minister …

God has a specific destiny and path for each one of us. Photo: Dave Soldano/Flickr/Creative Commons

Study: A sense of purpose adds years to your life

A study produced by researchers Patrick Hill from Canada’s Carleton University and Nicholas Turiano from the University of Rochester’s Medical Center concluded that having a purpose adds years to a person’s life. The two researchers tracked 6,000 people over a 14-year period who had been part of the Midlife in the United States study. Elements of the comprehensive survey delved into such areas as determining if a person felt they had a purpose. Among other things they were asked to respond to such statements as “some people wander aimlessly in life, but I am not one of them.” Over their study period, the research team determined that 9% (569) of these people had died. After analyzing the data, they found that across all age groups those who had a higher sense of purpose consistently lived longer. Lead author Patrick Hill stated: “These findings suggest that there’s something unique about finding a purpose that seems to be leading to greater longevity.” The two added in their report published in Psychological Science that other studies have come …

Nurses on a hospital ward at Christmas during the 1930s. Photo: theirhistory/Flickr/Creative Commons

Medical study: Want to live longer, go to church

A study of 75,534 middle-aged nurses published in JAMA Internal Medicine discovered that church attendance played a key role in nurses living longer. The study surveyed the lifestyles of this group of nurses between 1992 and 2012. During the ten-year period, 13,537 of the nurses died including 4,479 due to cancer and 2,721 due to cardiovascular problems. After accounting for lifestyle choices that could lead to early death such as smoking (which can lead to increased cancer risk and heart problems), the researchers discovered if a nurse attended church over once per week they were 33% less likely to die than their non church attending counterparts. They also discovered that even if nurses attended church less often, they were less likely to die than those who didn’t. Weekly church attendance resulted in a 26% reduction in death and irregular attendance (less than once a week) resulted in a 13% reduction. The study only analyzed the impact of protestant and Catholic church attendance and did not study any benefits associated with attending services at non-Christian religions. …

Praying in a cathedral in Tuscany, Italy. Photo: ashokboghani/Flickr/Creative Commons

Study: Prayer reduces alcoholic cravings

Researchers with New York University’s Langone Medical Center have discovered that prayer helps a person reduce their cravings for alcohol. In their study, the group performed MRI brain scans on 20 people who were long-term participants with Alcoholics Anonymous. The chosen 20 all stated that they did not have any cravings for alcohol during the previous week. There were two phases to the testing. During both phases the participants viewed alcoholic drinks and across the board all participants said they felt a craving for alcohol. After viewing alcohol in the first test, the AA group was given a newspaper to read and during the second test they were told to recite AA’s prayer that promotes abstinence. The AA prayer also called the serenity prayer was developed for the organization by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and goes like this: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Courage to change the things I can. And wisdom to know the difference.” The research group discovered that the participants stated there was a significant reduction …

Marriage offers protection. Photo: angelo23/Flickr/Creative Commons

Study: Marriage increases cancer survival rates

A new study published by Fremont’s Cancer Prevention Institute of California and the University of California San Diego School of Medicine may have unlocked why married people have a better chance of surviving cancer. Over the years, several studies have shown that married people have higher survival rates than their non married counter parts when it comes to dealing with this disease. In this particular study, researchers looked at 783,167 patients and determined that unmarried men were 27% more likely to die from cancer than their married counterparts and unmarried women 19% more likely. The group then decided to remove other socio-economic factors such as finances that could potentially affect a person’s ability to survive cancer. In America, it can impact the type of health insurance a person can buy. Once these factors were removed, they discovered that an unmarried man’s chances of dying from cancer was still 22% higher than his married counterpart and for unmarried women it was still 15% higher. The researchers concluded that though other socio-economic factors contributed to a person’s …

Jesus wants to bring emotional healing. Photo: Olaf Meyer/Flickr/Creative Commons

Jesus came to heal the ‘shivering’ heart

According to researchers from Denmark’s Aarhus University, human grief can literally cause heart problems. The research team looked at the medical data for about one million Danes and discovered that people who experience the loss of a partner had a 41% increased chance of an irregular heartbeat. Called atrial fibrillation or arrhythmia, it takes place when there is a breakdown in the heart’s electrical system causing the heart’s chambers to flutter or beat very fast. It can result in increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and even death. The risk was even higher when the death was unexpected resulting in a 57% increased risk of atrial fibrillation. They also discovered this was happening to people who up to this point had never experienced an irregular heart beat. In the study, the researchers found that of the 88,612 who were diagnosed with atrial fibrillation for the first time, 17,478 had experienced the loss of a loved one within the previous year. In a Los Angeles Times article, Simon Graff, one of the study leaders, said: “Stress …

Families are the happiest when attending church.

Study: Marriages are the happiest when couples attend church

A study released by the Institute of Family Studies concluded that marriages are the happiest when both members of a couple attend religious services or if the husband does. In contrast, the least happiest are those where neither person attends or the just the wife does. The study entitled Better together: Religious attendance, gender and relationship was written by W. Bradford Wilcox of University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project and Professor Nicholas Wolfinger from the University of Utah. For their report the two analyzed data from the National Survey of Religion and Family conducted in the US in 2006. After accounting for other factors such as economic well-being and education, they discovered: 78% of couples when both or just the husband attended church considered themselves “very” or “extremely” happy. 67% of couples considered themselves happy when neither attended services. Only 59% of couples said they were happy when just the wife attended religious services. The two stated that the reason they believe religious services are a contributing factor to successful relationships is because they are …

Northridge megachurch in Plymouth, Michigan. Photo: Dwight Burdette/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Study reveals weaknesses in mega churches

A study just released by Duke University revealed a concerning weakness in big churches. The larger a church becomes the more sporadic its members are when it comes to church attendance and less likely they are to volunteer. The study was conducted by David Eagle, who teaches at Duke’s Center for Health Policy and Inequalities. Eagle formerly pastored a church in Canada and it was this experience that led to his interest in conducting the study. In an interview with the Christian Post, he said while in Canada there was a major push by his denomination on church growth. He was told larger churches would result in more non-Christians attending. Eagle said: “I was skeptical of this approach, and began to think that an emphasis on growth could lead to unintended consequences — things like creating a less involved membership.” For his study he analyzed data from the National Congregations Study and the General Social Survey in the US. He compared church attendance among four major church groups — Conservative Churches, Roman Catholic, Black Protestant …

Changing habits on porn usage -- includes women. Photo: Jonas Smith/Flickr/Creative Commons

Survey reveals rapidly changing trends in porn usage

A survey conducted by Barna Group, a national survey company, and Josh McDowell Ministry uncovered changing views on pornography among American teenagers and young adults. Having written over 145 books, Josh McDowell is a popular Christian speaker and writer on contemporary culture. The survey, entitled The Porn Phenomenon, looked at how widespread porn usage is in both America and the church. The results warn that the porn landscape is changing rapidly due largely to easy internet access. Perhaps most revealing is that most of those surveyed consider a lack of recycling a greater sin than viewing porn. While 32% of young adults and teens viewed porn as “usually or always” wrong,  56% said not recycling was “usually or always wrong.” A second troubling trend is that a persons first viewing of porn is coming at a younger age. The survey discovered that 27% of the young adults (ages 25-30) viewed porn before puberty. This compared to only 13% for the next older age group — GenX (35 and 55 years of age). In a matter …

Small Pentecostal church service in Liberia. Photo: Multimedia Photography/Flickr/Creative Commons

What happens when you do a neuroimage scan of a person’s brain as they speak in tongues?

In some ways it’s odd how Speaking in Tongues has become the lightening rod of dissension in the church. According to the Bible, it is one of the supernatural gifts given a person when they are filled with the Holy Spirit. On one side of the spectrum you have those who believe Speaking in Tongues and most of the other charismatic gifts ended with the writing of the New Testament, while those of a Pentecostal/Charismatic persuasion believe it is a gift still needed today with some believing it is a sign of the filling of the Holy Spirit — meaning all people filled with Holy Spirit will speak in tongues. According to the Bible, speaking in tongues also called glossolalia occurs when the Holy Spirit moves on a person and initiates this language. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul described it this way: 15 What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the …

Launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery on April 5, 2010. Photo: Scott Kublin/Flickr/Creative Commons

Success despite failure

When the Atlantis Space Shuttle was returning from its space flight in 2002 a piece of insulation intended to protect the craft from the searing heat as it traveled through the atmosphere broke off on re-entry. It resulted in minor damage to a rocket booster. The crew and shuttle landed safely and because of this successful landing, the insulation issue received only a cursory inspection. The next year, insulation broke off the heat shield again. It happened during the launch of the Columbus space shuttle destroying the craft and killing all seven members of the crew. This time NASA suspended all flights and undertook a thorough investigation resulting in nearly 30 recommendations to increase shuttle safety. This story was highlighted in 2010 by two researchers — Vinit Desai, assistant professor of Management at the University of Colorado Business School and Peter Madsen a professor at BYU School of Management. They used this story as part of their study on failure as a learning tool. The said the difference responses were due to one flight being …

Photo Garret Lesage/Flckr Creative Commons

A woman’s perspective: Can forgiving others make you feel lighter and jump higher?

I read an article recently referring to a study reported in Social Psychology and Personality Science that determined the act of forgiving makes us lighter both emotionally and physically? The study involved two groups. One group was to remember a time they forgave someone and the second group was asked to remember a time they couldn’t forgive. Through their mind’s eye, the group that was able to forgive perceived the slope of a nearby hill to be less steep than the second group that was unable to forgive. The researchers said it was the equivalent of a person with a heavy backpack finding it more difficult to climb a hill than a person without. Ryan Fehr, assistant professor of management at the University of Washington, also measured the vertical jumps of each participant in the study. He found that the group who forgave, on average, jumped higher than those who were unable to forgive. Fehr concluded that the act of forgiveness unburdened one’s mind and brought a lightness to their physical being and did in …

Repeated studies are revealing the profound impact Marijuana has on the human brain. Photo Marijuana field in India Richard McMullen/Flickr

The ‘Stoner Jesus’ Bible study group?

A group in Colorado are taking that state’s decision to legalize Marijuana on January 1, 2014 to a new level. According to a an article by Jennifer LeClaire with Charisma News, they started  a group to study the Bible while smoking weed. The group calls itself  ‘Stoner Jesus.” It was started by Deb Button, a recent divorcee in her forties. Button apparently had never considered using Cannabis until the Colorado government legalized it and did so at the urging of a friend. According to Button, taking the drug helped her get closer to God and this led to her forming a Bible Study group which she advertised on Craigslist. She has people of different faiths in attendance including an atheist and a Mormon. Button invited one woman who said when she showed up, the host was so spaced out she didn’t remember inviting her. While Colorado is at the forefront of the move to legalize Marijuana in the US, the Daily Mail reports that researchers from the School of Medicine at Connecticut’s Yale University concluded …

Wall of a kindergarten class in Nymegen, Holland. Photo: Bruno Casonato/Flickr

The gift of time

One of the big mistakes a parent can make is pushing their children ahead of their years. We want them in kindergarten at an earlier age and as a result they end up in school being the youngest child in their class. In these situations, children can often be diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and are prescribed medication to try to control it. However, the problem may simply be their age. Put them back a year, and they would completely fit in. A recent study by Stanford Graduate School of Education says holding a child back one year before entering kindergarten can “dramatically” improve a child’s self-control in later years. In the US, children traditionally enter kindergarten at age 5. The study was co-authored by Professor Thomas Dee of Stanford University and researcher Henrik Sievertsen from the Danish National Center for Social Research. They added that holding a child back one year in kindergarten can show beneficial results for a child up to the age of 11. It could even have positive benefits …