How Donald Trump Won Over the Religious Right

DonaldTrump

So, it's time we talked about Donald Trump.The improbable presidential candidate has been flying high since his speech at Liberty University, where he was warmly welcomed by president Jerry Falwell Jr. The speech itself was underwhelming: he flubbed a biblical reference, cracked off-color jokes and made his pandering laughably obvious. Yet none of it seems to matter. The Liberty audience cheered and praised him. Among evangelicals, he's beating his closest rival, Ted Cruz, by 42% to … [Read more...]

SF/F Saturday: Mystery Science Theater 3000

MST3K-2

The whole East Coast is snowed in after last night's blizzard. If you're feeling a touch of cabin fever, I've got a suggestion for how to while away the time.Mystery Science Theater 3000 is a cult-classic TV show that came out of Minnesota in the late 1980s. It's about a mild-mannered janitor named Joel (series creator Joel Hodgson), who had the misfortune of being employed by two mad scientists. As part of their evil, never-fully-specified plan to conquer the world, they kidnap him, shoot … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Imagine No Religion

RosaryHands

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter VII, The SpeechThere's a character who's missing from Atlas Shrugged.His name is Father Amadeus, and while he was part of Ayn Rand's early outlines, she jettisoned him from the final draft. He was to have been a Catholic priest affiliated with the Taggarts who heard James' confessions. In the denouement, he would have realized that John Galt was right and that forgiveness is evil, and when the bad guys came to him one last time, he would have refused to … [Read more...]

Movie Review: Alive Inside

AliveInside_POSTER

Alive Inside is an award-winning documentary by Michael Rossato-Bennett about the work of Dan Cohen, a social worker from Long Island, and the charity he founded, Music & Memory. (Disclaimer: I know Dan personally, and I've contributed to his charity.) It spotlights a slow-rolling demographic crisis poised to overtake the Western world, and offers at least one startlingly powerful idea that could be part of the solution.In the next few decades, the developed world is going to confront … [Read more...]

A Response to Cracked’s “5 Atheist Arguments Which Aren’t Helping Anyone”

I admit, I spend a lot of time browsing Cracked. From its origins as a comedy website about dick jokes, it's grown into one of the most subversively intelligent and thoughtful sites on the internet, commenting not just on pop culture, but on politics, philosophy and religion. Among other things, they've published harrowing personal essays about life in Muslim theocracies, religious honor-killing cultures and the Quiverfull cult.Which brings me to this column by Luke McKinney, 5 Atheist … [Read more...]

Friday Night Music: Every Open Eye

I last wrote about Chvrches, the Scottish synthpop band with the name I can never type, two years ago. They've since released their sophomore album, Every Open Eye, which is excellent - bigger, more expansive, more optimistic than their debut. Here's one of my favorites:Another standout is "Empty Threat", a defiant anthem that's hard not to read as the band's response to the kind of bottom-feeder harassment that lead singer Lauren Mayberry has often spoken about. … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Descent of Man

Chimpanzee

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter VII, The SpeechJohn Galt is still talking. In this section of his doorstopper monologue, he lectures about Rand's views on human nature:"Man's mind is his basic tool of survival. Life is given to him, survival is not. His body is given to him, its sustenance is not. His mind is given to him, its content is not. To remain alive, he must act, and before he can act he must know the nature and purpose of his action. He cannot obtain his food without a … [Read more...]

Book Review: The Illusion of God’s Presence

IllusionOfGodsPresence

Summary: Not a new theory, but a new and strong case for an old theory, supplemented with up-to-date neurological evidence.Jack Wathey is a neuroscientist and computational biologist and the founder of Wathey Research, a scientific firm that focuses on problems like protein folding. His new book, The Illusion of God's Presence, presents an answer to a puzzling problem: Why do human beings believe so strongly in a supernatural deity, even in the face of ample contradictory evidence? (Full … [Read more...]

Jimmy Carter Is Better than the God He Worships

JimmyCarter

The world needs more statesmen like Jimmy Carter.Since his presidency, he's been an unflagging advocate for human rights. Through his Carter Center, he's worked to oversee fair elections, release political prisoners, and negotiate peace accords in conflict-torn regions like Haiti, North Korea, Palestine, South Sudan and Bosnia. He's well known for his work building homes for the poor with Habitat for Humanity. At the age of 91, after beating brain and liver cancer, he's still going strong. … [Read more...]

If You Won the Powerball

BilliardBalls

OK, I admit it: I bought a ticket for the Powerball lottery this weekend. After multiple drawings with no winner, the grand prize hit $800 million, and could surpass $1 billion before tonight's drawing.I'd argue that it's not totally irrational to play. At $2 a ticket and jackpot odds of 1 in 292 million, that's a positive expected value (although of course taxes complicate the picture, and it's less if you choose to take the winnings as a lump sum).Still, it makes no sense to me that … [Read more...]


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