The Case for a Creator, Chapter 8 The best place to settle a scientific debate is in the peer-reviewed journals and the larger research community – a strategy which, as we’ve noted, the creationists have steered well clear of. This means, when they inevitably attempt to push their beliefs into public schools anyway, that we have to take them to court, and that’s where most direct encounters between science and creationism take place. However, though it’s not an ideal forum… Read more

I just finished reading The Happiness Hypothesis, a book by Jonathan Haidt, who’s a professor in the new science of “positive psychology” at the University of Virginia. Most of the book is a straightforward distillation of scientific research on what truly brings happiness and contentment in life, illustrated with quotes and references to famous philosophers and sages of the past who taught similar lessons. There’s nothing to object to about this – I think it’s a laudable thing for science… Read more

You may have heard that, after an exasperating series of setbacks and delays, the massive particle accelerator called the Large Hadron Collider is finally up and running. Even in preliminary tests, it’s set records for the most powerful particle collisions ever recorded in a lab – and when it’s reactivated later this year, it’s expected to set new ones. Recently, I was struck by this quote from a National Geographic article on the LHC: So far, the CERN team has… Read more

Quick! Somebody call the accommodationists! Several men who went to a suburban mosque to perform morning prayers Wednesday were shocked to discover two bloodied wild boar heads wrapped in plastic bags in the mosque compound, said Zulkifli Mohamad, the top official at the Sri Sentosa Mosque on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s largest city. This unpleasant stunt is just the latest symptom of a smoldering religious war that recently erupted in Malaysia, a multiethnic and multireligious country with a… Read more

This month, I want to write about some words important to the atheist movement that are frequently misused and abused by religious apologists. The first of these words is secularism. In the rhetoric of spokespeople for the religious right, secularism is often assumed to be the desire to ban all forms of religious expression from public view. As is usual in these polemics, this is a falsehood, created by taking a true statement and then twisting and distorting it almost… Read more

This week’s guest contributor says: “This is why it pays to rise with the sun. Very few people are blessed with the experience of a wilderness sunrise such as this gem. After a morning like this, the world cannot help but seem a miraculous place.” Sunrise, Pharaoh Lake, Adirondack State Park. Photo credit: Jim Sabiston, Essential Light Photography. (Visit his site!) Read more

Last night I had a chance to see Creation, the independent film by British director Jon Amiel that presents an account of the life of Charles Darwin and his struggle to write his great work, On the Origin of Species, while mourning the death of his beloved daughter Annie. The movie is based on Annie’s Box, the biography of Darwin written by his great-great-grandson, Randal Keynes. The movie opens promisingly, with Darwin’s eldest daughter Annie asking him to tell her… Read more

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 8 In my review of Darwin’s Black Box, I listed three ways that an irreducibly complex system can evolve: The first can be summed up as scaffolding: extra parts which support a partially functional system until it is completely assembled, at which point the extra parts become unnecessary and are pruned away by selection. The second is the case of improvement becomes necessity, where an adaptation is at first merely beneficial, but as later… Read more

Summary: A compelling atheist thought experiment, wrapped inside a cleverly plotted and fast-paced tale of transhumanist fiction. This isn’t the first time I’ve reviewed a book written by a fellow blogger, but it’s always a pleasure for me to do, and this one was particularly pleasurable to read. The Quantum Mechanic is a novel written by the blogger D – you may know her as the author of She Who Chatters – for 2009’s National Novel Writing Month. The hero… Read more

Via Ophelia Benson, this unwelcome news: the Center for Inquiry’s podcast Point of Inquiry, which I listened to regularly until now, is seeing a change in hosts. D.J. Grothe, who formerly conducted the interviews, is leaving to serve as the president of the James Randi Educational Foundation. He’ll be replaced by a rotating series of hosts, and the most important of which, who’s expected to conduct approximately half of Point of Inquiry’s new interviews, is Chris Mooney. On its face,… Read more

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