The Desert V

(Author's Note: "The Desert" is a work of short fiction in several parts. If you haven't already done so, now would be a good time to go back and read the previous chapters so that you know what's going on.)V: EpilogueIt seemed like ages ago that I had set out from my home, and the beautiful Garden that surrounded it, on a journey that brought me deep into the harsh wilds of the desert. In that barren, desolate land, I had encountered several of the lost souls who dwelt there. Most had … [Read more...]

Fragile Trappings

I stepped out of my house today on a chilly fall afternoon. After an unseasonably late warm spell, as if summer had lingered this year past its appointed time, autumn had arrived at last. The feel of the season was in the air: the misty cool, the forests defiantly ablaze with fiery color, the smell of fallen leaves, wet black and rusty gold, in the grass. There was a sense of hunkering down, of quiet activity in the stillness, as nature prepares for the coming winter foreshadowed in the bare … [Read more...]

Emptying the Haunted Air

Almost two hundred years ago, the English Romantic poet John Keats wrote a poem, "Lamia", in which he lamented that the advance of scientific understanding would rob the world of its beauty and wonder. Keats' chief villain, though not named in the poem, was Isaac Newton, whose use of the prism to split white light into its component colors was viewed by Keats as akin to desecration:Do not all charms fly At the mere touch of cold philosophy? There was an awful rainbow once in heaven: We know … [Read more...]

CAP Alert Reviews IV

Recently, while I was looking over my list of especially ridiculous items culled from the CAP Alert site, I noticed an interesting trend. Namely, many elements of movies which the CAP reviewer condemns can also be found in the Bible. Consider the following examples:The 13th Warrior: "'Your fate is fixed'"Romans 9:21: "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?" (In the middle of a long argument for … [Read more...]

Optimistic Populism

In the comments of my recent post "On Atheist Janitors", I was accused of being naive for my belief in the possibility of a truly just and prosperous state:I wasn't even going to address Ebon's utopian comments on how we should ensure a minimum income for everyone on a full time job sufficient to travel for leisure and all. Clearly Ebon's not an economist, but a dreamer. I guess that's his own variety of opium. Heaven not in heaven, but here on Earth... I ask you, is that any less of a … [Read more...]

I Don’t Like to Brag…

...and I also wouldn't normally use this blog to inflict personal photos on you all, especially vacation photos.But today I'm going to make an exception to both rules.Anyone care to guess where I was last week?Yes, you guessed it: after a three-hour plane flight and a two-hour drive along narrow, winding backcountry roads, I arrived at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, the largest radio telescope in the world.Here's me at the observatory complex's front … [Read more...]

Popular Delusions VII: Alien Abduction

Back in August, in "Some Thoughts on Fermi's Paradox", I proposed some explanations for why there's no evidence of intelligent alien species. But I left out what seems like the most obvious explanation of all: they do exist, and they're already here.This may well be the most popular answer. To judge by polls like this one from 2002, almost half of American adults believe that intelligent aliens have visited the Earth. (Ironically, The Onion actually gets this percentage right in its deadpan … [Read more...]

A World in Shadow V

A while back, I came across the moving story of an individual calling himself Real Live Preacher, whose faith was shattered when he saw a young mother die while working as a hospital chaplain:30 something. Cute. New mother with two little kids. Breast cancer. Found it too late. Spread all over. Absolutely going to die.Jenny had only one request. "I know I'm going to die, chaplain. I need time to finish this. It's for my kids. Pray with me that God will give me the strength to finish … [Read more...]

On God’s Goodness

It has often been pointed out, by myself and by other atheists, that the traditional monotheistic religions depict God as acting in shockingly violent and cruel ways on numerous occasions. Despite the texts that say this, every week millions of believers attend church where they pray prayers and sing hymns that praise God's infinite love, benevolence, and goodness. Yet when atheists point out that religious texts and tradition attribute actions to God that seem anything but good, these same … [Read more...]

The Cure for Cancer! (Cure Not Included)

The other day, I received a jaw-dropping piece of spam e-mail:The Detox Box is a remarkable device that uses frequencies to destroy toxins in the body. It's similar to how a singer can hit a note and shatter a wine glass.According to the e-mail, this marvelous machine is based on the ideas of one Dr. Royal Rife, who lived in the 1930s and claimed to have developed the world's first "virus microscope". (It is physically impossible to resolve the average virus with a light microscope, … [Read more...]


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