The National Institute of Theology

Lots of char­latans spend lots of money ad­ver­tis­ing diets and health prod­ucts that don’t work. We have a Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health that, among other things, funds stud­ies that make more-ob­jec­tive pro­nounce­ments on diet and health.

Ar­gue pro or con: It would be a good in­vest­ment (pay­back would ex­ceed op­por­tu­nity cost) for the US gov­ern­ment to cre­ate a Na­tional In­sti­tute of The­ol­ogy, that would fund re­search into the­olog­i­cal ques­tions. For in­stance:

  • How effec­tive is prayer?

  • Which re­li­gions are the most effec­tive (at heal­ing the sick, mak­ing their ad­her­ents rich, or other met­rics)?

  • What is the prob­a­bil­ity that some­one will be­come hap­pier, more pro­duc­tive, less vi­o­lent, or com­mit acts of ter­ror­ism as a re­sult of join­ing differ­ent re­li­gions (or not join­ing any)?

Every­one, re­li­gious and athe­ist, should be mo­ti­vated to want the an­swers to these ques­tions to be­come widely known.

(Yes, I know this would be poli­ti­cally im­prac­ti­cal. Point­ing that out is not in­ter­est­ing. What is in­ter­est­ing, is whether such a NIT would be benefi­cial, sup­pos­ing it could be made.)