March 17th, 2011
12:55 PM ET

TIME: How our brains predispose us to believe

Psychologist Jesse Bering is best known for his often risqué (and sometimes NSFW) Bering in Mind blog for Scientific American, which examines human behavior — frequently of the sexual sort.

But he's also the director of the Institute for Cognition and Culture at Queen's University in Belfast and his new book, The Belief Instinct, examines an entirely different subject: why our brains may be adapted to believe in gods, souls and ghosts.

Read the full story about our brains and belief on TIME.com
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Culture & Science

House panel considers 'In God We Trust'
March 17th, 2011
11:58 AM ET

House panel considers 'In God We Trust'

By Gabe LaMonica, CNN

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Thursday on a measure to reaffirm “In God We Trust” as the national motto and to encourage its display on public buildings, including schools.

U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Virginia, is sponsoring the measure on the national motto, adopted in 1956.

Critics say the vote is purely political.

"Of course none of this is necessary," said the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, a Washington advocacy group.


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Church and state • Politics

March 17th, 2011
11:53 AM ET

Estranged son of anti-gay Westboro pastor says father does 'evil'

(CNN) - An estranged son of anti-gay Kansas pastor Fred Phelps said Wednesday that the spiritual leader of Westboro Baptist Church hit his wife and beat his children with a mattock handle until they bled.

"I think what he does out there is evil," said Nathan "Nate" Phelps, during an appearance on HLN's "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell."

Nate Phelps is the seventh of the Westboro Baptist minister's 13 children. The younger Phelps severed ties with his family on his 18th birthday and said he hasn't had contact with his father in three decades. Nate Phelps is currently writing a book about his family.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that Westboro's practice of picketing the funerals of fallen soldiers with offensive placards is constitutionally protected free speech. The picketing, which includes chants and placards stating "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers," have enraged supporters of the U.S. military and the families and friends of slain soldiers.

Nate Phelps called his pastor father "one of the best reasons that America has been forced to get off the fence and address this issue (of gay rights)."

Read the full story about the estranged of Westboro Baptist Church.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • United States • Violence • Westboro Bapitst Church

March 17th, 2011
04:32 AM ET

Top Democrat calls Japan tragedy 'beyond biblical'

By CNN Congressional Producer Matthew Hoye

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday described the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan as "beyond biblical in terms of its proportion."

The "humanitarian loss is so tremendous," Pelosi,  a California Democrat, told reporters on Capitol Hill, saying the United States is helping with humanitarian and technical assistance, but it's a "huge order.

"We all feel quite inadequate in terms of the size of the tragedy, but completely committed to helping," Pelosi said.

While Pelosi said she doesn't believe any radioactive material would "drift ashore" in this country, she noted that California and Hawaii would be in the "first line of receiving" any fallout and said the Federal Emergency Management Agency "needs to take inventory" of emergency supplies and figure out "how it gets directly to people."

Read the full story

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • DC • Japan • Politics • United States

About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.