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New Age Religions Growing Rapidly in America

Eastern and New Age beliefs are widespread in America says a new poll. Released in December of  2009, the study from the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life does not bode well for the future of orthodox relig­ious belief.

The religious beliefs and practices of Americans do not fit neatly into conventional categories. The new poll finds that large numbers of Americans engage in multiple religious practices, mixing elements of diverse traditions. Many also blend Christianity with Eastern or New Age beliefs such as reincarnation, astrology and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects. And sizable minorities of all major U.S. religious groups say they have experienced super­natural phenomena, such as being in touch with the dead or with ghosts.

Though the U.S. is an overwhelmingly Christian country, significant minorities profess belief in a variety of East­ern or New Age beliefs. For instance, 24% of the public overall and 22% of Christians say they believe in reincarna­tion. And similar numbers (25% of the public overall, 23% of Christians) believe in astrology. Nearly three in ten Americans say they have felt in touch with someone who has already died.

Nearly half of the public (49%) says they have had a religious or mystical experience, defined as a “moment of sud­den religious insight or awakening.” This is similar to a survey conducted in 2006 but much higher than in surveys conducted in 1976 and 1994 and more than twice as high as a 1962 Gallup survey (22%). In fact, the new survey finds that religious and mystical experiences are more common today among those who are unaffiliated with any particular religion (30%) than they were in the 1960s among the public as whole (22%).

Golden Ratio Key to Facial Beauty Says Study

The next time you find yourself attracted to someone’s face, chalk it up to the Golden Ratio. That ubiquitous relation­ship, otherwise designated by the Greek letter Phi, has once again proven itself to be a key ingredient of beauty.

Long thought to be the universal key to growth, the ratio (1.6180339887. . .) which appears over and over in na­ture’s structures (from spiral nebula to chambered nautilus), has now been shown to be a secret of facial beauty as well.

Professor Kang Lee of the University of Toronto and his associates tested for the ideal facial feature arrangements on female faces by changing the distances between eyes, nose, and mouth. They discovered two “golden ratios,” one for length and one for width. Female faces were judged more attractive when the vertical distance between their eyes and the mouth was approximately 36 percent of the face’s length, and the horizontal distance between their eyes was approximately 46 percent of the face’s width. Interestingly, these proportions correspond with those of the average face.

Classical artists used the golden ratio frequently and many consider it a fundamental feature of the Great Pyramid as well as many other ancient monuments. Nevertheless, some dispute its significance. Divine harmony is seldom ap­preciated by those who don’t have it.

Evolution Comes in Big Jumps, Not Small Steps

One of the greatest natural history arguments is that of uniformitarianism versus catastrophism. On one side, theo­rists have insisted that evolution has been a very gradual process covering billions of years based on natural selection, accumulated small changes, and survival of the fittest. On the other side are those who believe that sudden cata­clysms in Earth’s history have brought about immense changes which have culminated in today’s world. The latter view was rejected by nineteenth century science which considered it too much like the Bible and other ancient scrip­tures. Scientists were more interested in a theory in which there were only the familiar natural processes like we see at work today. New research, however, comes down decidedly on the side of the catastrophists.

Scientist Mark Pagel and his associates at England’s University of Reading examined 101 groups of plant and ani­mals, looking carefully at the length of branches in the evolutionary trees of thousands of species within each group. The length of the branches were considered roughly equivalent to the amount of time between the branching of two different species. Researchers then looked at possible causes for the changes.

Pagel concluded that the new species occur because of rare events in the environment like the rise of a mountain range, a great flood, etc., not by natural selection and the accumulation of very small changes over time, as we have been led to believe.

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