Kilkenny protest over claim to cure homosexuality via prayer

Last Updated: Thursday, August 25, 2016, 14:36

“You can get the smell of the animals here, because the Kilkenny mart is just beside us,” Noreen Mulhall announces, before she starts swaying in her chair to the hymn How Great Thou Art.

It’s Wednesday evening, and Mulhall has come to the Hub in Kilkenny to hear controversial South African pastor, Angus Buchan. Prior to the event, some 40 people marched to the gates of the venue to protest the fact that Buchan has preached in the past that homosexuality can be cured through prayer.

Rosemary Parle from Kildare and her friend Hilary Anderson from Lisburn describe themselves as Disciples of Christ. They have arranged their holiday together especially to coincide with Buchan’s appearance in Kilkenny. Why?

“It shows how much God loves Ireland. That’s why Angus is here, because God wants us to hear good news, among all the bad news,” Parle explains.

‘So liberal’

“Unfortunately, Ireland has become so liberal in its thinking that we have strayed from the teachings of the Lord and taken on a humanistic view instead. A homosexual lifestyle goes against the covenant of marriage.”

Even though marriage between same-sex couples in Ireland is now legal?

“That’s not marriage,” Parle says. “Marriage is one man and one woman. Their bodies fit together. I’m sorry to sound crude, but it’s true.”

A group of friends have come from Carlow. Before Buchan ever takes the stage, Maria Doyle says she has already got everything she came for.

“We’re meeting our family,” is how she puts it. “Say someone went away to Australia, and then they came home. The whole family would come together to celebrate. That’s what it’s like here.”

‘A sin’

What do they think of Buchan’s views on homosexuality? “Homosexuality is a sin in God’s eyes,” her friend Julie Power explains. “Not the fact that two men love each other. The act. Sex together.”

By the time the event begins, the Hub, which has seating for 1,400 is full, including several children. Buchan jumps on stage and bellows, “I love the Irish, I really do! You are the most passionate people I have ever met.” He falls to his knees before the audience.

The crowd go mad. Camera phones flash.Buchan commands the crowd to stand up, and they spring to their feet as one. He paces the stage, Bible in hand, and ends every sentence with a shout.

“This is a much bigger crowd than I had last time,” he says appreciatively. “I’m speaking to bigger crowds now than I’ve ever done before in my life.” People whistle.

Then he gets going, on a speech that lasts for an hour, and during which nobody leaves the arena. “The Bible tells me to love my wife,” Buchan says. “I love my wife. If I love my wife, she will gladly submit to me.” He says this twice. The crowd roar. “My wife is two years younger than me. She looks like she’s 20 years younger than me. Do you know why? Because I love her. I look after her. I protect her. I provide for her, I put food on the table.”

Later he returns to the topic of a wife submitting to her husband, saying, “It’s very hard for a lady to submit to a man who is lazy, who doesn’t have the authority in the home, where the kids are running wild and tearing the house apart, and he won’t get out of his bed in the morning. I’m telling you the reality of life. So boys, it comes back to us, get off your behinds, do some work and put some food on the table, get that house looking good, and give your wife a chance to look feminine and beautiful.”

He continues, “My wife is beautiful. She smells nice. Her hair looks beautiful. She looks like a lady. I don’t want her to compete with me. I don’t want to go to a ladies prayer group. I’m a man. Do I look feminine?” He shrugs his shoulders in mock questioning, slapping his thighs, as his waits for a reply. “No!” shout the crowd back to him.

“Children, respect your elders. Respect your father and your mother. I discipline my children when they are naughty. I don’t beat them up, I discipline them. I give them a good hiding and then I love them to bits.” Loud guffaws from crowd. Pause from Buchan. “They’re all grown up now, and all my children are serving God, every single one of them, and that’s no coincidence, because Jesus is my friend.” Applause. It’s unclear if Buchan is referring to the fact he used to discipline his now grow-up children, or if he still does, but the crowd love his revelations anyway.

’Mouths washed out with Holy Ghost soap’

In an aside that refers to the media coverage he received in advance of his visit, he says, “Some of us are so negative that the devil has no work to do. Those people need their mouths washed out with Holy Ghost soap.”

“When you hear the name of Jesus, does a tear come into your eye? “Yes!” someone roars with a sob from the crowd. “Yes!” comes the sound of more voices. People near me start crying.

“I love families and I hate divorce. I think abortion is legalised murder. Why? Because the Bible tells me that. (This gets the loudest cheer of the evening.)

These are some of the other things Buchan says in his speech:

“I will pray tonight that God will give a baby to all those people who can’t have babies, I have done this all over the world. People have conceived because of my prayers.”

“What does a fundamentalist mean? It means I believe every word in this Book, the Bible!”

“Faith is contagious, just like doubt is contagious. I don’t want to be around doubt.”

“You have to lead from the front. There are people outside that need you. They are lost. If you don’t help them, who is going to help these people?”

“I’m the most peaceful man you’ll ever meet.”

“I love young people.”

“Believers go to Heaven, not good people.”

In between cheering, the audience are totally silent. They’re listening closely, leaning forwards. The evening ends with the crowd on their feet, assembling before Buchan for a collective blessing.

It’s hot in the Hub, with the crowds of people on a humid evening. Noreen Mulhall is right. The smell of the mart is unmistakable.

Scotland says no to homophobic Pastor Angus BuchanAngus

Following action by Scottish campaigners, Scottish Borders Council have now banned Pastor Angus Buchan, criticised for misogyny and homophobia, from preaching on their premises.

The South African pastor, who has been invited by the evangelical Hope Church to speak at the Volunteer Hall, Galashiels, Scotland, later this month, has caused an outcry among LGBTI rights advocates.

The Scottish Borders LGBT Equality organisation, supported by Scottish Borders Rape Crisis, contacted Live Borders, part of the Scottish Borders Council, who own the venue who then decided not to allow Buchan to use their premises.

Buchan preaches to tens of thousands paying participants in South Africa where he says thathomosexuality is a “disease” that can be “cured” by prayer.

The Pastor also runs “Mighty Men” conferences where he teaches men to “remedy” their masculinity, and for women to subject themselves to their husbands and to support corporal punishment of their children.

Susan Hart, Chair, and Jen Logie, trustee of the Scottish Borders LGBT Equality
Susan Hart, Chair, and Jen Logie, trustee of the Scottish Borders LGBT Equality

Speaking with KaleidoScot, Susan Hart, chair of the Scottish Borders LGBT Equality organisation, said: “We were very pleased that Scottish Borders worked with us to ensure there is no place for Pastor Angus Buchan to preach his messages of intolerance. We would like to thank the many wonderful people of the borders for all their messages of support and organisations such Rape Crisis who are willing to stand with us.

“Our organisation encourages diversity, and acceptance. Spreading messages of hate towards LGBTI people, women and children only can harm rural communities like ours and cause division.

“We took this decision after reaching out to Hope Church asking for a dialogue, but when no answer was forthcoming we raised the issue with Live Borders.

“They responded that they will not enable the use of the venue by Buchan as they have a policy not to hire out their premises if an event caused public offence.

“Only afterward Live Borders’ decision was made did Hope Church contact us, saying they are open for dialogue.

“Buchan’s views that LGBTI people are diseased and can be cured, and that men should dominate women and physically punish children in the family unit are extremely damaging. In my view this crosses the line between freedom of speech and hate speech.

“Of course he can still appear in another private venue, but many in the borders area are quite angry about his views and I think would want to demonstrate if Buchan is allowed to preach in another location here.”

Susie Stein, Service Manager of the Scottish Borders Rape Crisis commented on Buchan’s visit saying: “We are an organisation supporting all women and girls who have experienced sexual violence at any time in their lives. We are concerned by Buchan’s misogynist and homophobic views and comments.

“We work closely with LGBT Equality and other organisations in the Borders to promote inclusion and equality for all women and the LGBT community.”

Scott Cuthbertson
Scott Cuthbertson

Scott Cuthberston, of the Equality Network, said he supported the decision, telling KaleidoScot: “The right of free speech is not without consequence, nor does it come without the right of reply. Borders Council has a responsibility to support the wellbeing of people in the Borders, including LGBTI people.

“We therefore welcome the decision of Live Borders to deny the use of council funded premises to a speaker who preaches harm to LGBTI people. We also support the efforts of Borders LGBT equality who have worked to ensure Angus Buchan is clear on what LGBTI inclusion means in the Scottish Borders.”

Speaking with KaleidoScot, Melanie Nathan, Executive Director of The African Human Rights Coalition congradulated the Scottish groups for their action and called upon UK wide action to have Buchan denied platforms to preach his homophobic and misogynistic views.  She also called for the pastor to be banned from entering the UK.  She said: “It is important to note that no one is curbing Buchan’s right to free speech or to practice his religion.  He has the internet, he has his pulpit, he has his own country.   What he does not have is a right to enter a foreign country. That is a privilege.

Melanie Nathan
Melanie Nathan

“Issuing a visa is up to a country’s government and if that government determines that a person will cause harm in their country, they have a duty, in my opinion, to deny the visa.  Buchan’s assertions are nothing more than psychological terror for young people who are grappling with their sexuality and family acceptance. The fact that he represents quackery when he asserts that he can cure anyone of being gay is reason enough to deny a visa.”

Pastor Angus Buchan is still due to speak at five other locations in England, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

He is also running the infamous Might Men Conference, at the end of August, at Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire.

God is real!

jesus did it

There’s No Such Thing as Free Will
But we’re better off believing in it anyway.

J U N E 2 0 1 6 I S S U E

480750/ 2/15

FOR CENTURIES, philosophers and theologians have almost unanimously
held that civilization as we know it depends on a widespread belief in
free will—and that losing this belief could be calamitous. Our codes of
ethics, for example, assume that we can freely choose between right and
wrong. In the Christian tradition, this is known as “moral liberty”—the
capacity to discern and pursue the good, instead of merely being compelled by appetites and desires. The great Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel
Kant reaffirmed this link between freedom and goodness. If we are not free to
choose, he argued, then it would make no sense to say we ought to choose the
path of righteousness.
Today, the assumption of free will runs through every aspect of American
politics, from welfare provision to criminal law. It permeates the popular
culture and underpins the American dream—the belief that anyone can make
something of themselves no matter what their start in life. As Barack Obama
wrote in The Audacity of Hope, American “values are rooted in a basic
optimism about life and a faith in free will.”
So what happens if this faith erodes?
The sciences have grown steadily bolder in their claim that all human
behavior can be explained through the clockwork laws of cause and effect.
This shift in perception is the continuation of an intellectual revolution that
began about 150 years ago, when Charles Darwin first published On the
Origin of Species. Shortly after Darwin put forth his theory of evolution, his
cousin Sir Francis Galton began to draw out the implications: If we have
evolved, then mental faculties like intelligence must be hereditary. But we
use those faculties—which some people have to a greater degree than others
—to make decisions. So our ability to choose our fate is not free, but depends
on our biological inheritance.
Galton launched a debate that raged throughout the 20th century over nature
versus nurture. Are our actions the unfolding effect of our genetics? Or the
outcome of what has been imprinted on us by the environment? Impressive
evidence accumulated for the importance of each factor. Whether scientists
supported one, the other, or a mix of both, they increasingly assumed that
our deeds must be determined by something.
In recent decades, research on the inner workings of the brain has helped to
resolve the nature-nurture debate—and has dealt a further blow to the idea of
free will. Brain scanners have enabled us to peer inside a living person’s skull,
revealing intricate networks of neurons and allowing scientists to reach broad
agreement that these networks are shaped by both genes and environment.
But there is also agreement in the scientific community that the firing of
neurons determines not just some or most but all of our thoughts, hopes,
memories, and dreams.
We know that changes to brain chemistry can alter behavior—otherwise
neither alcohol nor antipsychotics would have their desired effects. The same
holds true for brain structure: Cases of ordinary adults becoming murderers
or pedophiles after developing a brain tumor demonstrate how dependent we
are on the physical properties of our gray stuff.
Many scientists say that the American physiologist Benjamin Libet
demonstrated in the 1980s that we have no free will. It was already known
that electrical activity builds up in a person’s brain before she, for example,
moves her hand; Libet showed that this buildup occurs before the person
consciously makes a decision to move. The conscious experience of deciding
to act, which we usually associate with free will, appears to be an add-on, a
post hoc reconstruction of events that occurs after the brain has already set
the act in motion.
The 20th-century nature-nurture debate prepared us to think of ourselves as
shaped by influences beyond our control. But it left some room, at least in the
popular imagination, for the possibility that we could overcome our
circumstances or our genes to become the author of our own destiny. The
challenge posed by neuroscience is more radical: It describes the brain as a
physical system like any other, and suggests that we no more will it to operate
in a particular way than we will our heart to beat. The contemporary scientific
image of human behavior is one of neurons firing, causing other neurons to
fire, causing our thoughts and deeds, in an unbroken chain that stretches
back to our birth and beyond. In principle, we are therefore completely
predictable. If we could understand any individual’s brain architecture and
chemistry well enough, we could, in theory, predict that individual’s response
to any given stimulus with 100 percent accuracy.
This research and its implications are not new. What is new, though, is the
spread of free-will skepticism beyond the laboratories and into the
mainstream. The number of court cases, for example, that use evidence from
neuroscience has more than doubled in the past decade—mostly in the
context of defendants arguing that their brain made them do it. And many
people are absorbing this message in other contexts, too, at least judging by
the number of books and articles purporting to explain “your brain on”
everything from music to magic. Determinism, to one degree or another, is
gaining popular currency. The skeptics are in ascendance.
This development raises uncomfortable—and increasingly nontheoretical—
questions: If moral responsibility depends on faith in our own agency, then as
belief in determinism spreads, will we become morally irresponsible? And if
we increasingly see belief in free will as a delusion, what will happen to all
those institutions that are based on it?
N 2002, TWO PSYCHOLOGISTS had a simple but brilliant idea: Instead of
speculating about what might happen if people lost belief in their

Incapacity to choose, they could run an experiment to find out. Kathleen Vohs,
then at the University of Utah, and Jonathan Schooler, of the University of
Pittsburgh, asked one group of participants to read a passage arguing that
free will was an illusion, and another group to read a passage that was neutral
on the topic. Then they subjected the members of each group to a variety of
temptations and observed their behavior. Would differences in abstract
philosophical beliefs influence people’s decisions?
Yes, indeed. When asked to take a math test, with cheating made easy, the
group primed to see free will as illusory proved more likely to take an illicit
peek at the answers. When given an opportunity to steal—to take more
money than they were due from an envelope of $1 coins—those whose belief
in free will had been undermined pilfered more. On a range of measures,
Vohs told me, she and Schooler found that “people who are induced to
believe less in free will are more likely to behave immorally.”
It seems that when people stop believing they are free agents, they stop
seeing themselves as blameworthy for their actions. Consequently, they act
less responsibly and give in to their baser instincts. Vohs emphasized that this
result is not limited to the contrived conditions of a lab experiment. “You see
the same effects with people who naturally believe more or less in free will,”
she said.

In another study, for instance, Vohs and colleagues measured the extent to
which a group of day laborers believed in free will, then examined their
performance on the job by looking at their supervisor’s ratings. Those who
believed more strongly that they were in control of their own actions showed
Edmon de Haro

up on time for work more frequently and were rated by supervisors as more
capable. In fact, belief in free will turned out to be a better predictor of job
performance than established measures such as self-professed work ethic.
Another pioneer of research into the psychology of free will, Roy Baumeister
of Florida State University, has extended these findings. For example, he and
colleagues found that students with a weaker belief in free will were less
likely to volunteer their time to help a classmate than were those whose belief
in free will was stronger. Likewise, those primed to hold a deterministic view
by reading statements like “Science has demonstrated that free will is an
illusion” were less likely to give money to a homeless person or lend someone
a cellphone.
Further studies by Baumeister and colleagues have linked a diminished belief
in free will to stress, unhappiness, and a lesser commitment to relationships.
They found that when subjects were induced to believe that “all human
actions follow from prior events and ultimately can be understood in terms of
the movement of molecules,” those subjects came away with a lower sense of
life’s meaningfulness. Early this year, other researchers published a study
showing that a weaker belief in free will correlates with poor academic
The list goes on: Believing that free will is an illusion has been shown to make
people less creative, more likely to conform, less willing to learn from their
mistakes, and less grateful toward one another. In every regard, it seems,
when we embrace determinism, we indulge our dark side.
EW SCHOLARS are comfortable suggesting that people ought to believe
an outright lie. Advocating the perpetuation of untruths would breach
their integrity and violate a principle that philosophers have long held
dear: the Platonic hope that the true and the good go hand in hand. Saul
Smilansky, a philosophy professor at the University of Haifa, in Israel, has
wrestled with this dilemma throughout his career and come to a painful
conclusion: “We cannot afford for people to internalize the truth” about free
Smilansky is convinced that free will does not exist in the traditional sense—
and that it would be very bad if most people realized this. “Imagine,” he told
me, “that I’m deliberating whether to do my duty, such as to parachute into
enemy territory, or something more mundane like to risk my job by reporting
on some wrongdoing. If everyone accepts that there is no free will, then I’ll
know that people will say, ‘Whatever he did, he had no choice—we can’t
blame him.’ So I know I’m not going to be condemned for taking the selfish
option.” This, he believes, is very dangerous for society, and “the more
people accept the determinist picture, the worse things will get.”
Determinism not only undermines blame, Smilansky argues; it also
undermines praise. Imagine I do risk my life by jumping into enemy territory
to perform a daring mission. Afterward, people will say that I had no choice,
that my feats were merely, in Smilansky’s phrase, “an unfolding of the
given,” and therefore hardly praiseworthy. And just as undermining blame
would remove an obstacle to acting wickedly, so undermining praise would
remove an incentive to do good. Our heroes would seem less inspiring, he
argues, our achievements less noteworthy, and soon we would sink into
decadence and despondency.
Smilansky advocates a view he calls illusionism—the belief that free will is
indeed an illusion, but one that society must defend. The idea of
determinism, and the facts supporting it, must be kept confined within the
ivory tower. Only the initiated, behind those walls, should dare to, as he put it
to me, “look the dark truth in the face.” Smilansky says he realizes that there
is something drastic, even terrible, about this idea—but if the choice is
between the true and the good, then for the sake of society, the true must go.

When people stop believing they are free agents, they stop seeing themselves as blameworthy for their actions.
Smilansky’s arguments may sound odd at first, given his contention that the
world is devoid of free will: If we are not really deciding anything, who cares
what information is let loose? But new information, of course, is a sensory
input like any other; it can change our behavior, even if we are not the
conscious agents of that change. In the language of cause and effect, a belief
in free will may not inspire us to make the best of ourselves, but it does
stimulate us to do so.
Illusionism is a minority position among academic philosophers, most of
whom still hope that the good and the true can be reconciled. But it
represents an ancient strand of thought among intellectual elites. Nietzsche
called free will “a theologians’ artifice” that permits us to “judge and
punish.” And many thinkers have believed, as Smilansky does, that
institutions of judgment and punishment are necessary if we are to avoid a
fall into barbarism.
Smilansky is not advocating policies of Orwellian thought control. Luckily, he
argues, we don’t need them. Belief in free will comes naturally to us.
Scientists and commentators merely need to exercise some self-restraint,
instead of gleefully disabusing people of the illusions that undergird all they
hold dear. Most scientists “don’t realize what effect these ideas can have,”
Smilansky told me. “Promoting determinism is complacent and dangerous.”
ET NOT ALL SCHOLARS who argue publicly against free will are blind to
the social and psychological consequences. Some simply don’t agree
that these consequences might include the collapse of civilization.

One of the most prominent is the neuroscientist and writer Sam Harris, who,
in his 2012 book, Free Will, set out to bring down the fantasy of conscious
choice. Like Smilansky, he believes that there is no such thing as free will. But
Harris thinks we are better off without the whole notion of it.
“We need our beliefs to track what is true,” Harris told me. Illusions, no
matter how well intentioned, will always hold us back. For example, we
currently use the threat of imprisonment as a crude tool to persuade people
not to do bad things. But if we instead accept that “human behavior arises
from neurophysiology,” he argued, then we can better understand what is
really causing people to do bad things despite this threat of punishment—and
how to stop them. “We need,” Harris told me, “to know what are the levers
we can pull as a society to encourage people to be the best version of
themselves they can be.”
According to Harris, we should acknowledge that even the worst criminals—
murderous psychopaths, for example—are in a sense unlucky. “They didn’t
pick their genes. They didn’t pick their parents. They didn’t make their
brains, yet their brains are the source of their intentions and actions.” In a
deep sense, their crimes are not their fault. Recognizing this, we can
dispassionately consider how to manage offenders in order to rehabilitate
them, protect society, and reduce future offending. Harris thinks that, in
time, “it might be possible to cure something like psychopathy,” but only if
we accept that the brain, and not some airy-fairy free will, is the source of the
Accepting this would also free us from hatred. Holding people responsible for
their actions might sound like a keystone of civilized life, but we pay a high
price for it: Blaming people makes us angry and vengeful, and that clouds our
“Compare the response to Hurricane Katrina,” Harris suggested, with “the
response to the 9/11 act of terrorism.” For many Americans, the men who
hijacked those planes are the embodiment of criminals who freely choose to
do evil. But if we give up our notion of free will, then their behavior must be
viewed like any other natural phenomenon—and this, Harris believes, would
make us much more rational in our response.
Although the scale of the two catastrophes was similar, the reactions were
wildly different. Nobody was striving to exact revenge on tropical storms or
declare a War on Weather, so responses to Katrina could simply focus on
rebuilding and preventing future disasters. The response to 9/11, Harris
argues, was clouded by outrage and the desire for vengeance, and has led to
the unnecessary loss of countless more lives. Harris is not saying that we
shouldn’t have reacted at all to 9/11, only that a coolheaded response would
have looked very different and likely been much less wasteful. “Hatred is
toxic,” he told me, “and can destabilize individual lives and whole societies.
Losing belief in free will undercuts the rationale for ever hating anyone.”
HEREAS THE EVIDENCE from Kathleen Vohs and her colleagues
suggests that social problems may arise from seeing our own
actions as determined by forces beyond our control—weakening
our morals, our motivation, and our sense of the meaningfulness of life—
Harris thinks that social benefits will result from seeing other people’s
behavior in the very same light. From that vantage point, the moral
implications of determinism look very different, and quite a lot better.
What’s more, Harris argues, as ordinary people come to better understand
how their brains work, many of the problems documented by Vohs and others
will dissipate. Determinism, he writes in his book, does not mean “that
conscious awareness and deliberative thinking serve no purpose.” Certain
kinds of action require us to become conscious of a choice—to weigh
arguments and appraise evidence. True, if we were put in exactly the same
situation again, then 100 times out of 100 we would make the same
decision, “just like rewinding a movie and playing it again.” But the act of
deliberation—the wrestling with facts and emotions that we feel is essential
to our nature—is nonetheless real.
The big problem, in Harris’s view, is that people often confuse determinism
with fatalism. Determinism is the belief that our decisions are part of an
unbreakable chain of cause and effect. Fatalism, on the other hand, is the
belief that our decisions don’t really matter, because whatever is destined to
happen will happen—like Oedipus’s marriage to his mother, despite his
efforts to avoid that fate.
Most scientists “don’t realize what effect these ideas
can have,” Smilansky told me. It is “complacent and
dangerous” to air them.
When people hear there is no free will, they wrongly become fatalistic; they
think their efforts will make no difference. But this is a mistake. People are
not moving toward an inevitable destiny; given a different stimulus (like a
different idea about free will), they will behave differently and so have
different lives. If people better understood these fine distinctions, Harris
believes, the consequences of losing faith in free will would be much less
negative than Vohs’s and Baumeister’s experiments suggest.
Can one go further still? Is there a way forward that preserves both the
inspiring power of belief in free will and the compassionate understanding
that comes with determinism?
Philosophers and theologians are used to talking about free will as if it is
either on or off; as if our consciousness floats, like a ghost, entirely above the
causal chain, or as if we roll through life like a rock down a hill. But there might be another way of looking at human agency.
Some scholars argue that we should think about freedom of choice in terms
of our very real and sophisticated abilities to map out multiple potential
responses to a particular situation. One of these is Bruce Waller, a philosophy
professor at Youngstown State University. In his new book, Restorative Free
Will, he writes that we should focus on our ability, in any given setting, to
generate a wide range of options for ourselves, and to decide among them
without external constraint.
For Waller, it simply doesn’t matter that these processes are underpinned by
a causal chain of firing neurons. In his view, free will and determinism are not
the opposites they are often taken to be; they simply describe our behavior at
different levels.
Waller believes his account fits with a scientific understanding of how we
evolved: Foraging animals—humans, but also mice, or bears, or crows—need
to be able to generate options for themselves and make decisions in a
complex and changing environment. Humans, with our massive brains, are
much better at thinking up and weighing options than other animals are. Our
range of options is much wider, and we are, in a meaningful way, freer as a
Waller’s definition of free will is in keeping with how a lot of ordinary people
see it. One 2010 study found that people mostly thought of free will in terms
of following their desires, free of coercion (such as someone holding a gun to
your head). As long as we continue to believe in this kind of practical free will,
that should be enough to preserve the sorts of ideals and ethical standards
examined by Vohs and Baumeister.
Yet Waller’s account of free will still leads to a very different view of justice
and responsibility than most people hold today. No one has caused himself:
No one chose his genes or the environment into which he was born.
Therefore no one bears ultimate responsibility for who he is and what he
does. Waller told me he supported the sentiment of Barack Obama’s 2012
“You didn’t build that” speech, in which the president called attention to the
external factors that help bring about success. He was also not surprised that
it drew such a sharp reaction from those who want to believe that they were
the sole architects of their achievements. But he argues that we must accept
that life outcomes are determined by disparities in nature and nurture, “so we
can take practical measures to remedy misfortune and help everyone to fulfill
their potential.”
Understanding how will be the work of decades, as we slowly unravel the
nature of our own minds. In many areas, that work will likely yield more
compassion: offering more (and more precise) help to those who find
themselves in a bad place. And when the threat of punishment is necessary as
a deterrent, it will in many cases be balanced with efforts to strengthen,
rather than undermine, the capacities for autonomy that are essential for
anyone to lead a decent life. The kind of will that leads to success—seeing
positive options for oneself, making good decisions and sticking to them—
can be cultivated, and those at the bottom of society are most in need of that
To some people, this may sound like a gratuitous attempt to have one’s cake
and eat it too. And in a way it is. It is an attempt to retain the best parts of the
free-will belief system while ditching the worst. President Obama—who has
both defended “a faith in free will” and argued that we are not the sole
architects of our fortune—has had to learn what a fine line this is to tread. Yet
it might be what we need to rescue the American dream—and indeed, many
of our ideas about civilization, the world over—in the scientific age.

Catholic priest who repeatedly raped New York woman when she was 14 is REINSTATED by the Church 

  • Roman Catholic church in India lifted suspension of Rev. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, who was convicted of sexually assaulting a minor
  • Jeyapaul, 61, was suspended by his local diocese in 2010 after being accused of sexually abusing two teen girls in Minnesota
  • He later pleaded guilty to molesting of the teens, who is not publicly identified, and served time in jail 
  • Megan Peterson, a 26-year-old artist in NY, was 14 when she said the priest raped her in his office and called the decision a ‘slap in the face’
  • Jeyapaul was accused of sexually abusing the teens while serving as priest in Crookston Diocese in Minnesota between 2004 and 2005 

A Catholic priest who was convicted last year by a U.S. court of sexually abusing a minor was reinstated by the church last month.

Indian priest Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, 61, was suspended for less than a full year by his local diocese in India five years ago after being accused of sexually abusing two girls during a posting to Minnesota.

He later pleaded guilty to molesting one of the teenagers, who has not been identified publicly, and served time in jail. Both of the girls were 14 at the time of the alleged abuse.

The Roman Catholic church in southern India lifted the suspension of Indian priest Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, 61, convicted last year of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in the United States more than a decade ago

The Roman Catholic church in southern India lifted the suspension of Indian priest Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, 61, convicted last year of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in the United States more than a decade ago

Megan Peterson, a 26-year-old artist living in New York, (pictured in 2012) accused Jeyapaul of raping her in his office whens he was 14. Jeyapaul pleaded guilty to sexual assault of a different girl in a plea deal in which the charges in his abuse of Peterson were dropped

Megan Peterson, a 26-year-old artist living in New York, (pictured in 2012) accused Jeyapaul of raping her in his office whens he was 14. Jeyapaul pleaded guilty to sexual assault of a different girl in a plea deal in which the charges in his abuse of Peterson were dropped

In January, the Vatican lifted Jeyapaul’s suspension following a recommendation by an Indian bishop.

Megan Peterson, now 26 and living in New York, accused Jeyapaul of raping and sexually assaulting her over the course of a year when she was 14, according to the New York Daily News.

She was shocked after learning the priest had been reinstated by Catholic Church officials.

‘It’s very clear what side the Church is on and it’s not about child protection or about morality,’ Peterson, an artist who resides in Queens, told the New York Daily News.

‘The bottom line is that the Church is not protecting children.’

The suspension of Jeyapaul was lifted last month after the bishop of the Ootacamund Diocese in India’s Tamil Nadu state consulted with church authorities at the Vatican, said Rev. Sebastian Selvanathan, a spokesman for the diocese.

Bishop Arulappan Amalraj of Ootacamund had referred Jeyapaul’s case to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the suspension was lifted on the church body’s advice, according to Selvanathan.

Jeyapaul was accused of sexually abusing Peterson and another teenage girl while serving as a priest in Crookston Diocese in Minnesota between 2004 and 2005.

The priest then fled to southern India following the allegations.

The Diocese of Ooty in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state suspended Jeyapaul in 2010 before he was arrested by Interpol in 2012 and extradited to the U.S. to face trial.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3462976/Catholic-priest-convicted-sexually-abusing-minor-reinstated-church.html#ixzz44CZVyMV1
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What believing in God does to your brain

Researchers found humans suppress the analytical areas of their brain in order to believe in god.

Humans suppress areas of the brain used for analytical thinking and engage the parts responsible for empathy in order to believe in god, research suggests.

They do the opposite when thinking about the physical world, according to the study.

“When there’s a question of faith, from the analytic point of view, it may seem absurd,” said Professor Tony Jack, who led the research.

“But, from what we understand about the brain, the leap of faith to belief in the supernatural amounts to pushing aside the critical/analytical way of thinking to help us achieve greater social and emotional insight.”

The countries in the world with the most “convinced atheists.” Countries in grey were not surveyed.

In an analysis of eight experiments, published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers also found people with faith were more empathetic than those without.

The researchers examined the relationship between the belief in god and measures of analytic thinking and moral concern in eight experiments, each using between 159 and 527 adult participants.

Although both spiritual belief and empathic concern were positively associated with frequency of prayer or meditation, neither were predicted by social contact – such as church dinners – associated with religious affilation.

What marriage would be like if we followed the bible

In earlier research, Professor Jack’s Brain, Mind & Consciousness laboratory used an fMRI machine to show the brain has an analytical network of neurons that enables humans think critically and a social network to empathise.

“Because of the tension between networks, pushing aside a naturalistic world view enables you to delve deeper into the social/emotional side,” Professor Jack explained. “And that may be the key to why beliefs in the supernatural exist throughout the history of cultures. It appeals to an essentially nonmaterial way of understanding the world and our place in it.”

The researchers said the human brain explores the world using both networks. When presented with a physics problem or ethical dilemma, a healthy brain activates the appropriate network while suppressing the other.

Such suppression may lead to the conflict between science and religion, the researchers added.

“Because the networks suppress each other, they may create two extremes,” said Richard Boyatzis, professor of organisational behavior at Case Western Reserve University.

“Recognising that this is how the brain operates, maybe we can create more reason and balance in the national conversations involving science and religion.”pg-22-God

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