Featured “On The Square Today” is, first, Joe Carter’s weekly column; today’s is a reflection on emergent evidence about the origins of atheism—in particular, origins of the non-philosophical variety:
A new set of studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that atheists and agnostics report anger toward God either in the past or anger focused on a hypothetical image of what they imagine God must be like. Julie Exline, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University and the lead author of this recent study, has examined other data on this subject with identical results. Exline explains that her interest was first piqued when an early study of anger toward God revealed a counterintuitive finding: Those who reported no belief in God reported more grudges toward him than believers.
And in “The Reagan Centenary,” George Weigel draws our attention to remarkable parallels between John Paul II and Ronald Reagan, as discerned through Weigel’s personal experience of them both:
They were both orphaned young: the future pope, literally; the future president, virtually, given the alcoholism of his father.
They were both men of the theater, whose extensive acting experience gave them both crucial skills and a conviction: that the word of truth, spoken clearly and forcefully enough, could cut through the static of evil’s lies, rally hearts and souls, and create possibilities where only obstacles were apparent.
Their understanding of, and loathing for, communism came to both of them early: Reagan, through his battles with Hollywood communists for control of the Screen Actors Guild; John Paul II, through his experience of the brutalitarian period of Polish communism after World War II. Both knew that the crucial battle with communism was in the realm of the human spirit, for communism proposed a false, yet seductive, view of the human future that could best be matched by a nobler vision of human freedom.
They were both dismissed as “conservatives” by pundits for whom “conservative” was a polite placeholder for “reactionary.” Yet the truth of the matter was that both were radicals: Reagan, in his convictions about ridding the world of nuclear weapons; John Paul, in the depth of his Christian discipleship.