Donald Hoffman is a professor of Cognitive Science at the University of  California, Irvine. A few years ago,The Atlantic magazine interview with him titled, “The Case Against Reality,” explored the astounding fact of human consciousness: that our species is awake and aware of our surroundings. I invite you to read just one paragraph from that interview: Not only are [many neuroscientists and philosophers of mind] ignoring the progress in fundamental physics, they are often explicit about it. They’ll say openly… Read more

The first time I remember reflecting on the meaning of utopia was when I was assigned to read Thomas More’s classic sixteenth-century book with that title. In More’s conception, utopia was spelled with the Greek prefix “οὐ” (“not”). That prefix was attached to the root word τόπος (“place”)—which together meant “no place.” I remember thinking, “That’s kind of great.” He admits up front that u-topia is nowhere. No place is “perfect” for everyone or for all conceivable times and situations…. Read more

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) is best known as the author of the 1868 novel Little Women. The second of four daughters born to Abigail and Bronson Alcott, she was born on November 29, 1832, which also happened to be her father’s 33rd birthday. Bronson was a brilliant and innovative educational reformer—although he had a tragic flaw of being financially irresponsible. Louisa’s story has often been told in a way that links her success to his influence. However, in recent years, as… Read more

The number of human beings on this planet has septupled (increased sevenfold) in a mere two centuries, from approximately 1 billion people alive in 1800 to more than 7.6 billion people today. Although there are indications that world population may peak at approximately 10 billion, should we accept 10 billion people as the “new normal?” We also need to pay attention not only to the number of people alive at any given time, but also to related demographic trends. For… Read more

A few weeks ago, I blogged about Artificial Intelligence in the near future in a post titled “Immigrants Aren’t Coming for Your  Job, Robots Are.” Next week, I’ll be writing on “Malthus, Earth Day, & Global Population” to wrestle with the implications that the number of human beings here on planet Earth has septupled (increased sevenfold) in a mere two centuries, from approximately 1 billion people alive in 1800 to more than 7.6 billion people today. Today my focus is… Read more

“What would you do if a bus filled with African-American Universalist Christians arrived at your congregation one Sunday morning interested in joining your congregation?” This question was one of many posed to me by the Ministerial Fellowship Committee (MFC). One of the final requirements for receiving “ministerial fellowship” with the Unitarian Universalist Association is to sit before the MFC for approximately an hour and respond to whatever questions the committee members think might be interesting, helpful, or provocative to ask… Read more

I recently finished the religion scholar Bart Ehrman’s latest book titled The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World in which he explores the early history of how Christianity began to grow into what it is today: the world’s largest religion with more than 2 billion adherents. (For anyone wondering, the Hindu Tradition is the third largest at 900 million. And projections estimate that Islam, currently in second place, will become the world’s largest religion by 2070.)… Read more

Yesterday I posted on Is Your Job Predictable? Immigrants Aren’t Coming for Your Job, *Robots* Are. An overarching question is whether Artificial Intelligence is “progress”? Or are we programming our own obsolescence? For instance, Kurt Vonnegut’s (1922 – 2007) first novel, Player Piano, published in 1952 is about an “automated economy in which industrial machines managed by a tiny technical elite did virtually all the work, while the vast majority of the population faced a meaningless existence and a hopeless future” (32). Vonnegut’s science… Read more

There is a lot of xenophobic fearmongering these days about immigration. But as the saying goes, “Immigrants aren’t coming for your jobs, robots are.” Robots, equipped with increasingly sophisticated Artificial Intelligence, are rapidly becoming competent in a widening array of fields. Martin Ford, in his important book Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future (2015), invites his readers to reflect on a thought experiment in which robots of the near future are reimagined as an… Read more

Dar Williams is one of my favorite singer-songwriters. And one of her many memorable songs is titled “I Won’t Be Your Yoko Ono.” As a feminist, she questions the often one-sided criticism that Yoko Ono (1933 – ) should be blamed for distracting John Lennon (1940-1980) from his career as a musician: I wonder if Yoko Ono Ever thought of staying solo … If she doubted John Lennon Worrying that he’d distract her art In the background of this song… Read more

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