Logic, Numbers, and Mary’s Conception

Numbers 5:14, 18, 44: If feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure—then he is to take his wife to the priest…. After the priest has had the woman stand before the LORD, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that… Read more

Martian Crater

See more stunning photos here. Your Thoughts? Read more

Music, The Mind, and Bobby McFerrin

Fascinating stuff: Your Thoughts? Read more

Religion As A Morally and Politically Ambivalent Force

Two weeks ago, I profiled various remarks from Jerry Coyne for the incisive way they challenged assumptions that (1) religion is indispensable for moral progress, (2) that religion is even on balance usually an aid to moral progress, and (3) that moral progress is even something observable over the course of history.  Coyne’s remarks were written as attempts to rebuff what he took to be the main theses of Robert Wright’s new book The Evolution of God. Now Wright is challenging… Read more

Disambiguating Faith: The Threatening Abomination Of The Faithless

Faith is a form of loyalty. But more than that, faith is a form of trust which does not calibrate itself to objective standards of trustworthiness but trusts people despite their limitations as provably trustworthy people or even despite counter-evidence to the notion that they are worthy of trust at all. Even more than that, however, faith helps serve traditions’ tasks of uniting their members and transmitting their values and practices down through generations. One of faith’s distinctive contributions to creating cohesion is its… Read more

Disambiguating Faith: Blind Faith: How Faith Traditions Turn Trust Without Warrant Into A Test Of Loyalty

Tuesday, I began my series of posts attempting first to disambiguate the various senses of the word faith, to explore how the various practices referred to under this one word’s umbrella all relate to each other and how they can be ethically and epistemologically assessed, both as they occur individually and in various combinations with each other. In Tuesday’s inaugural offering, I briefly discussed loyalty (which as faithfulness, is closely related to faith in ways I hope to explore going forward)… Read more

Disambiguating Faith: Faith As Tradition

Earlier this week I began this series of posts attempting first to disambiguate the various senses of the word faith in order to explore how the various practices referred to under this one word’s umbrella all relate to each other and how they can be ethically and epistemologically assessed, both as they occur individually and in various combinations with each other.   On Wednesday, I explored how faith’s connotation as “trust” differed from other connotations of trust. In this post I want to sketch some ideas on what a faith… Read more

In Further Defense Of They

Evangelos points us to this solid piece by Geoffrey Pullum who last week defended Obama’s choice to use “they” in a sentence about “somebody:” Strunk and White baldly assert that this is an error. They simply say don’t use they with syntactically singular antecedents like somebody. They don’t give a reason; and it is pretty clear they didn’t know anything much about the literary evidence that they has been grammatical and normal with singular antecedents for six or seven centuries…. Read more

Turning Ease Into Virtue

Yglesias makes a dynamite observation about part of the reason leaders of social conservatives put so much energy into anti-gay crusades rather than any of a number of other matters of social concern (via Patrick Appel): Most of what “traditional values” asks of people is pretty hard. All the infidelity and divorce and premarital sex and bad parenting and whatnot take place because people actually want to do the things traditional values is telling them not to do. And the… Read more

German Jews Want Critical Edition Of Mein Kampf Available

Via The Huffington Post: Germany’s Central Council of Jews has taken the unprecedented step of backing a proposal to republish Adolf Hitler’s infamous autobiographical manifesto Mein Kampf, which has been strictly outlawed in the country since the end of the Second World War.Although many German Jews still oppose reissuing Hitler’s anti-Semitic work, Stephan Kramer, the general secretary of the country’s leading Jewish organisation, supports a new scholarly edition of the work designed to inform future generations of the evils of… Read more

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