The nation’s increasingly visible and influential gay community embraces the notion of sexual orientation as an innate, immutable characteristic, like left-handedness or eye color. But a major federal sex survey suggests a far more fluid, varied life experience for those who acknowledge same-sex attraction.
The results of this scientific research shouldn’t undermine the hard-won respect recently achieved by gay Americans, but they do suggest that choice and change play larger roles in sexual identity than commonly assumed. … While pop-culture frequently cites the figure of one in 10 (based on 60-year-old, widely discredited conclusions from pioneering sex researcher Alfred Kinsey) the new study finds only 1.4% of the population identifying with same-sex orientation.
Moreover, even among those who describe themselves as homosexual or bisexual (a grand total of 3.7% of the 18-44 age group), overwhelming majorities (81%) say they’ve experienced sex with partners of the opposite gender. Among those who call themselves heterosexual, on the other hand, only a tiny minority (6%) ever engaged in physical intimacy of any kind with a member of the same sex.”
I’ve enjoyed several of the videos produced by The Thinking Atheist. The following video, however, should make them reconsider their (already rather smarmy) name.
In the video, several atheists relate their Christian upbringing, which they now not-so-fondly remember as ‘brainwashing’. Dawkins has sometimes gone so far as to claim that religious education is a form of child abuse. It can be, but the complaints made by the atheists in the video struck me as petty. There are too many grave injustices in this world for me to care about your being dragged to church every Sunday as a child. (Though I’ll admit that my religious upbringing wasn’t very strict, and I generally don’t regret my experience in Mormonism.)
Few things serve as a starker reminder of Mormonism’s near omnipresence in Utah than the 14 temples that dot our state’s landscape. The Salt Lake temple, as the church’s flagship temple, casts the longest shadow. And because a lot of ex-Mormons and non-Mormons here don’t like living in that shadow, the Salt Lake temple for them almost takes on a menacing visage (the fact that it resembles a fortress doesn’t help).
But I have a confession to make: For the most part, I actually like the temples. Admittedly, I sometimes get the creeps from the Salt Lake temple. Perhaps it’s just too synonymous with the LDS Church’s inordinate influence in Utah. Otherwise, I’m able to divorce the temples from Mormonism and appreciate them as architectural works and landmarks.
Common Sense Atheism is one of my favorite atheist blogs. Here, its author Luke Muehlhauser recounts the blog’s history and most important posts.
An oldie, but goodie: Pure Mormonism contends that the Word of Wisdom was neither intended as a commandment nor as a prohibition against beer.
Conspiracy theories about Obama’s birth and Osama’s death abound in today’s America. Why is the conspiracy meme so resilient in the human psyche? A new study finds that those who are prone to believing conspiracy theories are more willing to participate in a conspiracy.
The 5 unexpected downsides of being intelligent. High IQ scores are correlated with depression, dishonesty, gullibility, among other undesirable things.
In the last link bomb, I shared an article about Pastor Rob Bell’s controversial suggestion that Hell may not exist. Kevin Barney at the LDS blog By Common Consent reminds readers that Mormons don’t believe in Hell—at least not the classical conception.
A recent study discovered no difference in the ethical behavior of believers and nonbelievers. (So why do Americans still dislike atheists?) The bigger finding, though, is that those who believe in a compassionate God are more likely to cheat than those who believe in an angry, punitive God.
Quote of the day: “How can you be a militant atheist? It’s like sleeping furiously.” — AC Grayling
The soundtrack for The Book of Mormon (the Broadway musical) will be released in June. A preview of the opening song is already up at the musical’s site. I’m excited for the full CD release. The musical is critically acclaimed and leads with the 14 Tony nominations this year. (Update: The entire soundtrack is now available!)
Americans exaggerate their religiosity and church attendance, a University of Michigan study reports. Our church attendance is actually in line with some secular Western European countries.
Confessions of a ward hopper: A Mormon male writes about his decades-long experience in countless singles wards.
Andrew S. of Irresistible (Dis)Grace discusses the anger among some atheists and ex-Mormons, arguing that much of this anger, while often unwieldy, is reasonable.
The LDS Church struck a moderately progressive tone on the issue of immigration when it threw its support behind HB116, which critics call ‘amnesty’. This puts many conservative Mormons at odds with church leaders for the first time in a long time.
The rate of autism has skyrocketed in the developed world. This, however, is not indicative of an epidemic, but instead better diagnosis.
Cosmologist Sean Carroll presents at TED on space time and evidence that hints at a multiverse.
The latest Irreligiosophy podcast pokes fun at the craziest stories in the Book of Mormon. (A warning: The language may offend.)
A beautiful, albeit slightly disorienting, map of the most influential scientific minds of the last 500 years.
In an experiment that underscores the evolutionary genesis of basic morality, robots have learned self-sacrificing behaviors like sharing. Then again, a previous experiment reported that robots learned to lie for their own gain.
More than 1 in 5 atheist scientists identify as ‘spiritual’, according to an in-depth survey of 275 natural and social scientists from 21 of the nation’s top research universities.
Evangelical Christian and hobbyist historian David Barton was on The Daily Show a couple of nights ago to defend his view that Christianity’s role in America’s founding has been scrubbed from the history books. In response to Barton, author Chris Rodda has made her book Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right’s Alternate Version of American History available as a free download.
BYU professor William Hamblin reviews Christopher Hitchens’ Good is Not Great. Needless to say, his assessment isn’t favorable (and a number of the criticisms are fair).
The Guttmacher Institute has produced this informative video about abortion and the (surprising) demographics of the women who’ve had them.
British reporter Sanjiv Bhattacharya gained unprecedented access to fundamentalist Mormon communities for his book Secrets and Wives: The Hidden World of Mormon Polygamy. In an interview with Religion Dispatches, he discusses his experience living among and researching polygamist cults. Despite sharing reservations about incest and forced marriages, Bhattacharya nonetheless left this experience convinced that polygamy should be legalized.
Atheists and Christians alike believe in a lot of erroneous urban legends about the Bible. Here are but a few.
The author’s name has been omitted for anonymity’s sake.
I used to write a lot, but now I mostly make art. Making art is more comfortable than writing. When writing I am extremely conscious of what words connote and denote. This consciousness makes it harder to decide which word is the most appropriate for what I want to say. When I paint—and more when I sculpt—my decisions come naturally simply because art lends itself to ambiguity.
Without a universal meaning of colors or lines or compositions, I can ʻsayʼ what I want without saying anything. People see what they want to see in my art. If there is uninteresting, disruptive, or offensive content in a piece, people usually will still just see what they want, or they will pass it by. Art is safer than words.
Safety is not always a virtue.