Open Thread: Christianity and the Enlightenment

This is an open thread to address John's comment regarding Christianity and the origins of the Enlightenment. Comments and replies are welcome. … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses VII: Iron Chariots

One of the core beliefs of Judaism and Christianity is that God is omnipotent, able to do anything that is logically possible. But surprisingly, the Bible does not consistently support this idea. I've already written about the Tower of Babel, in which the Old Testament God appears to worry that humans will overmatch him if they complete the tower. And then, there's the following little-known Bible verse:"And the Lord was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could … [Read more...]

The Last Battlefield

Back in September, the blogger Riverbend - the thoughtful, eloquent young Iraqi woman who authors the blog Baghdad Burning - left Iraq along with her family. After four years of writing from a first-hand perspective about the chaos and violence that the U.S. occupation has unleashed on her country, Riverbend and her family finally decided that things had become too dangerous to stay, and it's hard to blame them.She writes about leaving her house for the last time, taking only the … [Read more...]

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...]


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