The Church and Society

The College for Bishops Leadership Institute was established to provide educational resources for new bishops as well as trending informational resources for all bishops. The Church and Society focuses on the following specific topics:

New items are added on a monthly basis. To comment or suggest additional topics or resources, please use the feedback form located at the bottom of this page.

Science & Religion

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artificial intelligence shows why atheism is so unpopular

In the Modeling Religion Project, an international team of computer scientists, philosophers,religion scholars, and others are collaborating to build computer models that they populate with thousands of virtual people, or “ agents.” The goal of the project is to give politicians an empirical tool that will help them assess competing policy options so they can choose the most effective one. It’s a noble idea: If leaders can use artificial intelligence to predict which policy will produce the best outcome, maybe we’ll end up with a healthier and happier world. But it’s also a dangerous idea: What’s “best” is in the eye of the beholder, after all.


How Genetics is Changing Our Understanding of 'Race'

It can be argued that race is a “social construct,” a way of categorizing people that changes over time and across countries, and that human populations are remarkably similar to each other from a genetic point of view. Over the years this consensus has morphed into an orthodoxy that maintains that we should be anxious about any research into genetic differences among populations.  However, recent genetic studies have demonstrated differences across populations not just in the genetic determinants of simple traits such as skin color, but also in more complex traits like bodily dimensions and susceptibility to diseases.


Reading the Bible through Neuroscience

What was it about the minds of ancient Israelites that allowed them to hear and see God directly—or at least, to believe that they did? Were the biblical prophets literally hearing voices and seeing visions, understanding themselves to be transmitting God’s own exact words? If so, why did such direct encounters with God become rarer over time? In his new book, The Great Shift, James Kugel investigates these questions through the lens of neuroscientific findings.


Scientists uncover St Columba's cell on Iona

Archaeologists say they have identified the remains of the cell of St Columba on the Scottish island of Iona. They have used radiocarbon dating to place samples of burned wood in the middle of Columba’s time there almost 1,500 years ago.  The charred remains of a hut were excavated in 1957 but it has taken until now for science to accurately date them.


Why is climate change a moral issue?

President Donald J. Trump has just signed measures rolling back significant parts of President Obama’s moves to protect the environment. Among other things, President Trump wants to withdraw and rewrite the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of Mr. Obama’s policies to fight global warming. These may seem like political questions, but they are also moral ones. Father James Martin offers three reasons why caring for the environment is a moral issue and why policies that fail to protect our planet are not only against Catholic teaching but are also immoral.


A scientist's new theory: Religion was key to human's social evolution

In humans’ mysterious journey to become intelligent, socializing creatures like no other in the animal world, one innovation played an essential role: religion.  That’s the theory that a preeminent evolutionary scientist is setting out to prove.  “You need something quite literally to stop everybody from killing everybody else out of just crossness,” said Robin Dunbar.  “Somehow it’s clear that religions, all these doctrinal religions, create the sense that we’re all one family.”


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