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Global Developments
Oct 1, 2001


Useful Links: Organizations devoted to the academic study of religion and interfaith research and activities have found a home on the Internet. Have a look at:; www.theorderoftime.-com/cyber/to/rs-file/interf.html; links.html;,; www.beliefnet. com/index/ index_102.html, and

Religionmeta.html. We encourage our readers to take part in their activities and online discussions.

North American Interfaith Summit: The United Religions Initiative (URI), a global network of grassroots-based interfaith groups, is holding its first North American summit, “Circles in Motion-Gifts to Share,” May 31-June 4, at Salt Lake City’s 2002 Olympic Village. Contact Kay Lindahl, URI-North America, P.O. Box 6071, Laguna Niquel, CA 92607; Tel: (949) 661-3087; Fax: (949) 496-5535; e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or visit

Interesting Books: Huston Smith, Why Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief; Andrew Newberg M.D. et al., Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief; Gerald L. Schroeder, The Hidden Face of God: How Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth; William A. Dembski and Michael J. Behe, Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science & Theology; Jensine Andresen (editor) et al., Cognitive Models and Spiritual Maps: Interdisciplinary Explorations of Religious Experience; Joel Beversluis (editor), Sourcebook of the World’s Religions: An Interfaith Guide to Religion and Spirituality.


Interfaith Network: The United Communities of Spirit is a global interfaith network linking people of diverse faiths and beliefs who want to work with others to build a better world. In its quest to promote awareness that all people belong to the same spiritual family, it offers e-mail/web conference facilities and an extensive database that allows members to express the fine details of their personal beliefs. -

Ecological Medicine: As more people realize that health and environment are interlinked, interest in ecological medicine continues to increase. Kenny Ausubel’s “The Coming Age of Ecological Medicine” (The Utne Reader, 27 July 2001) deals with this topic. In it, Carolyn Raffensperger, executive director of the Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN), says that ecological medicine seeks to establish the conditions for health and wholeness, acknowledges that people are part of the local ecosystem, and that medical practices should not damage other species or the ecosystem. SEHN calls upon science and industry to conduct impact studies before implementing their activities. Raffensperger claims that this usually is not done, and that the results are disastrous. -

The "Benefits" of Smoking: Philip Morris reports that deaths from smoking saved the Czech government at least $30 million on health care, pensions, and housing for the elderly; that smoking had a positive effect on the nation’s 1999 public finance balance (estimated at $146 million); and that smoking-related expenses of $394 million (1999) were “almost exactly balanced out by the excise duty charged by the Czech government.” Moreover, the government benefited from value added tax of $89 million, customs duty of $9 million, and income tax from tobacco businesses in the Czech Republic of $19 million. Spokesman Remi Calvet said that: “We deeply regret any impression that premature death of smokers could represent a benefit for society. Tobacco is a controversial industry, but we are still an industry and sometimes we need some economic data on our industry.” -


Free Space Optics: Researchers are studying the possibility of replacing underground cabling with free space optics, a system that uses invisible focused lasers to transmit data. Speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, faster than any other broadband connection now available, are possible. Several problems remain to be solved, though: automatic refocusing of laser connections, ensuring a clear line of sight, and how to deal with fog and other weather conditions that could disrupt the signal. Terabeam reports successful trials in foggy Seattle. -

The “God” Particle: Europe’s CERN laboratory and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago are racing to find evidence supporting the Higgs boson, a subatomic particle popularly known as the “God” particle. Researchers at CERN thought that they had found it in November 2000, but now it appears that these “may have been simply random movements by other, less interesting particles.” The Higgs boson is a theoretical particle believed to be the source of mass and weight in the uni- verse. The race continues. -

A More Accurate Clock: American scientists using sophisticated laser technology and a cooled ion of the liquid metal mercury (a mercury atom with one electron stripped off) have developed the “all-optical atomic clock.” In theory, it could be as much as 100 to 1,000 times more accurate than current cesium-based microwave atomic clocks. Applications are expected in navigation and communications technology, as well in such abstract areas as Einstein’s theory of general relativity and the plasticity of time. -

Stem Cell Research: A National Institutes of Health report calls for more research on how adult, fetus, and embryo stem cells can help treat juvenile diabetes, Parkinson’s, and other diseases. Stem cells from days-old embryos, most of which are obtained from fertility clinics, seem to show the most potential. They are more plentiful, easier to extract and then grow and multiply in a laboratory, and can develop into a much wider array of tissues. Opponents are trying to block research on the grounds that such cells constitute potential or actual human life. -