Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

New study: even casual use of marijuana / cannabis alters brain

Reported by the UK Telegraph.

Excerpt:

Experimenting with cannabis on a casual basis damages the brain permanently, research has found.

It is far from being a “safe” drug and no one under the age of 30 should ever use it, experts said.

People who had only used cannabis once or twice a week for a matter of months were found to have changes in the brain that govern emotion, motivation and addiction.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School in America carried out detailed 3D scans on the brains of students who used cannabis casually and were not addicted and compared them with those who had never used it.

Two major sections of the brain were found to be affected.

The scientists found that the more cannabis the 40 subjects had used, the greater the abnormalities.

Around 10 million people in Britain, almost a third of the population, have used illegal drugs, with cannabis the most popular. The research author, Dr Hans Breiter, professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said: “This study raises a strong challenge to the idea that casual marijuana use isn’t associated with bad consequences. Some people only used marijuana to get high once or twice a week.

“People think a little recreational use shouldn’t cause a problem, if someone is doing OK with work or school. Our data directly says this is not the case.

[...]Mark Winstanley, chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “For too long cannabis has been seen as a safe drug, but as this study suggests, it can have a really serious impact on your mental health.

“Research also shows that when people smoke cannabis before the age of 15, it quadruples their chance of developing psychosis. But very few people are aware of the risks involved.”

I troubled by this study because I know people who act as if smoking marijuana were as much a right as free speech.

What I would really like to see is that people who insist on engaging in irresponsible behaviors then go on bear the consequences of that behavior. The problem is that it’s not only these people who are affected, it’s the innocent people around them. There are the innocent victims of car accidents or theft or the children who suffer because their parents want to “alter their brains”. Those are the people I am worried about.

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New study: regular churchgoers and married people most satisfied with their love life

This article from Science Daily was tweeted by Fazale Rana of Reasons to Believe.

Excerpt:

Regular churchgoers, married people or those who enjoy harmonious social ties are most satisfied with their love life. This also goes for people who are currently in love or who experience the commitment and sexual desire of their partners, says Félix Neto and Maria da Conceição Pinto of the Universidade do Porto in Portugal. Their findings, published in an article in Springer’s journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, look at the influences on love life satisfaction throughout one’s adult life.

The researchers associate love with the desire to enter into, maintain, or expand a close, connected, and ongoing relationship with another person. In turn, love life satisfaction is a purely subjective, overall measurement of someone’s actual enjoyment of love. To investigate the factors that influence this across various age groups, 1,284 adult Portuguese women and men ranging between 18 and 90 years old were asked to evaluate and weigh specific facets of their own love lives by using the Satisfaction With Love Life Scale.

[...]While education does not impact a person’s love life satisfaction, religious involvement does. The finding that believers and regular churchgoers are positive about their love lives is in line with previous studies that associate religious involvement with better mental health and greater satisfaction with life and sexual relationships in general.

Previously, I blogged about a study reported in USA Today, which showed that people who attend church have lower divorce rates than those who don’t attend church.

Excerpt:

It’s been proclaimed from pulpits and blogs for years — Christians divorce as much as everyone else in America.

But some scholars and family activists are questioning the oft-cited statistics, saying Christians who attend church regularly are more likely to remain wed.

[...]The various findings on religion and divorce hinge on what kind of Christians are being discussed.

Wright combed through the General Social Survey, a vast demographic study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, and found that Christians, like adherents of other religions, have a divorce rate of about 42%. The rate among religiously unaffiliated Americans is 50%.

When Wright examined the statistics on evangelicals, he found worship attendance has a big influence on the numbers. Six in 10 evangelicals who never attend had been divorced or separated, compared to just 38% of weekly attendees.

[...]Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, agrees there’s been some confusion.

“You do hear, both in Christian and non-Christian circles, that Christians are no different from anyone else when it comes to divorce and that is not true if you are focusing on Christians who are regular church attendees,” he said.

Wilcox’s analysis of the National Survey of Families and Households has found that Americans who attend religious services several times a month were about 35% less likely to divorce than those with no religious affiliation.

Nominal conservative Protestants, on the other hand, were 20% more likely to divorce than the religiously unaffiliated.

“There’s something about being a nominal ‘Christian’ that is linked to a lot of negative outcomes when it comes to family life,” Wilcox said.

Whenever I talk to atheists about marital satisfaction and marital stability, they always tell me these myths about how atheists divorce less and are happier in their marriages than religious people. But when I ask them for studies, they don’t have any, or they start to talk about the Discovery Channel or Star Trek or something. It’s like they believe things without any evidence at all. Meanwhile, one also has to note that atheists have much lower rates of marriage than church-attending believers.

Now clearly, there are going to be atheists with great marriages that never break up. But individual cases do not overturn peer-reviewed research studies. The fact is that marriage is an institution that is soaked through with moral values and moral obligations. If you think that morality is just arbitrary customs and conventions that vary by time and place, as is logically consistent with atheism, then the odds are that you won’t be able to stay married for long – if you even get married at all.

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Islamists kidnap 100 schoolgirls who face living hell as sex slaves

From the New York Post. (H/T Answering Muslims)

Excerpt:

Heavily armed Islamic extremists abducted at least 100 female students from a school in northeast Nigeria before dawn Tuesday, but some of the teens managed to escape from the back of an open truck, officials said.

The tragedy came one day after a bombing killed more than 70 people in the city of Abuja.

The girls were seized after midnight from a school in Chibok, on the edge of the Sambisa Forest, an insurgent hideout, said Borno state police commissioner Tanko Lawan.

Gunmen killed a soldier and police officer guarding the school, then took off with at least 100 students, a State Security Service official said.

Witnesses said the gunmen arrived in trucks and motorcycles and may have grabbed as many as 200 girls.

[...]Islamic extremists have been abducting girls to use as cooks and sex slaves.

Insurgents from the Boko Haram terrorist network are blamed for attacks that have killed more than 1,500 people this year.

[...]Boko Haram is also accused of Monday morning’s explosion at a busy bus station in Nigeria’s capital that killed at least 75 people and wounded 141.

Answering Muslims notes that the Qur’an allows Muslims to take captured women as sex slaves. It’s a far cry from the courtly love of Christians, isn’t it?

Boko Haram is, of course, an Islamic terrorist group. But don’t tell the Obama administration that, it’s “workplace violence caused by a Youtube video” if you ask them.

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Obama-appointed judge orders Ohio to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages

From the Toledo Blade.

Excerpt:

Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages legally performed elsewhere despite the state’s own ban on such marriages in its constitution, a federal judge in Cincinnati officially ruled today.

Attorney General Mike DeWine has said he will appeal the decision as he already has another by U.S. District Judge Timothy Black that required the state to recognize same-sex marriages on death certificates.

The latest ruling, promised by Judge Black more than a week ago, does not mean that same-sex couples may be wed in Ohio. But it strikes a blow against another portion of the constitutional amendment Ohioans adopted in 2004 that prohibits government from extending rights approximating those of marriage to same-sex and unmarried couples.

The case before Judge Black initially dealt solely with the issue of having the names of same-sex couples legally married in another state on the birth certificates of children born here. But Judge Black, a 2010 appointee by President Obama, went a step further by ordering the state to recognize all such marriages performed legally.

[...]The case was brought by four couples married in California, New York, and Massachusetts who have had or soon expect to have children in Ohio. Three are female couples in which one spouse was impregnated through artificial insemination while the fourth is a male couple who adopted a child born here.

[...]Ohio is just one of a number of states with same-sex marriage cases in the appeals pipeline with at least one likely to work its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Christian News Network reported on the Obama-appointee’s previous related decision.

Excerpt:

As previously reported, Black similarly issued a ruling in December that required state officials to recognize same-sex “marriages” on death certificates. He rejected the state’s sovereignty argument at that time as well.

[...]Consequently, Rep. John Becker (R-Union Township), a born-again Christian, is seeking to have Black impeached as he believes that the judge is rather trampling the state and federal constitutions.

“[Judge Black] persists in allowing his personal political bias to supersede jurisprudence,” he wrote in a recent statement.

Becker has submitted an impeachment resolution to the state assembly, but it has not yet come up for a hearing.

I wonder if the many people who claimed to believe in traditional marriage yet voted for Obama will stop voting for Democrats? One can hope that will be the case, now that everyone can see what people like me were warning about before the election. We warned back then, but were told that our concerns were silly and that Obama was just as much a Christian as George W. Bush. Now we know different. And so many people still claim to be pro-life and pro-marriage while voting for the most pro-abortion and anti-marriage President we have ever had. I suppose in 2016, they’ll vote for Democrats again, and be shocked when the Democrats push even more for expansions abortion and gay rights. When will we learn?

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Jay Richards: How to end poverty in 10 tough steps

I saw that Stand to Reason’s Amy Hall blogged about a new lecture by Jay Richards, a Christian expert in economics. Amy linked to this post by Justin Taylor which summarizes the talk (above).

Summary:

  1. Establish and maintain the rule of law.
  2. Focus the jurisdiction of government on maintaining the rule of law, and limit its jurisdiction over the economy and the institutions of civil society.
  3. Implement a formal property system with consistent and accessible means for securing a clear title to property one owns.
  4. Encourage economic freedom: Allow people to trade goods and services unencumbered by tariffs, subsidies, price controls, undue regulation, and restrictive immigration policies.
  5. Encourage stable families and other important private institutions that mediate between the individual and the state.
  6. Encourage belief in the truth that the universe is purposeful and makes sense.
  7. Encourage the right cultural mores—orientation to the future and the belief that progress but not utopia is possible in this life; willingness to save and delay gratification; willingness to risk, to respect the rights and property of others, to be diligent, to be thrifty.
  8. Instill a proper understanding of the nature of wealth and poverty—that wealth is created, that free trade is win-win, that risk is essential to enterprise, that trade-offs are unavoidable, that the success of others need not come at your expense, and that you can pursue legitimate self-interest and the common good at the same time.
  9. Focus on your comparative advantage rather than protecting what used to be your competitive advantage.
  10. Work hard.

I’m currently working my way through Money, Greed and God with a friend, and we are going through it chapter by chapter. If you don’t have the book, it’s a perfect introduction to economics and how it relates to the Christian worldview. I always encourage Christians to move beyond good intentions to good results by studying economics. We are supposed to be helping the poor, but how should we do it? Economics is the science that allows us to understand which policies we should support to do that.

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