When Rationalists Reinvent Religion

AlienPlanet

I enjoyed this story by Dylan Matthews on Vox about effective altruism, an idea I'm all in favor of and wanted to say more about.EA is the philosophy that we should use science, rather than warm fuzzy feelings or guesswork, to direct our charitable giving where it will do the most good. Compared to the enormous need in the world, the amount of money and energy available for charity is small to begin with, and too many of those scarce and precious dollars and volunteer hours have been … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Hippocratic Oath

Caduceus1

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IDagny's first day in John Galt's secret capitalist valley, and her whirlwind tour of its inhabitants, ends with a dinner party at Midas Mulligan's house later that night:Midas Mulligan met them at the door. She noticed that his grim, square face was not as harshly expressionless as she had thought: he had a look of satisfaction, but satisfaction could not soften his features, it merely struck them like flint and sent sparks of humor to glitter faintly … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Bells and Whistles

AtlasPart2Computers

Atlas Shrugged Part II: The StrikeIn most things, the producers of Atlas Shrugged Part II were unwilling to deviate in the slightest from the book. They followed the text as slavishly as possible, keeping everything that screen-time and budget constraints would allow. But there are a few places where they chose to make changes, one of which was the climactic train-disaster scene of Part II. It's illuminating to look at the reasons why, and to see what the changes show - or fail to show - … [Read more...]

A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 11

This is part 11 of my "Think! Of God and Government" debate series with Christian author Andrew Murtagh. Read my latest post and Andrew's reply.Hello Andrew,I'm ready to move on to comparing our views on government, really! But I have to tarry on one small point:Goodness itself is not a necessary truth, but God as the Final Cause (Being and Goodness itself) is a necessary truth in the Aristotelian-Thomistic conception, (goodness being inseparable from God's nature).I've read … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: Beyond Debating God’s Existence

My latest column on the Guardian is up: "It's time for atheists to stop debating God's existence and decide what to do about it".In it, I argue that the atheist movement can't make critiques of religious belief its whole focus and should be doing more to create justice in this life, which is the only one we'll ever have. I also argue that the community is already moving in this direction, citing a new mission statement put out by the Secular Student Alliance that makes diversity and social … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Buy Local

Farmer's Market

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter VIIIWhen the villains put Directive 10-289 into effect two chapters earlier, Dagny quit her job and flounced out. This chapter opens with her living in hermetic solitude, at an old rural cabin in Woodstock that she inherited:The sun touched the tree tops on the slope of the hill, and they looked a bluish-silver, catching the color of the sky. Dagny stood at the door of the cabin, with the first sunrays on her forehead and miles of forest spread under … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Supervillain Morality

Supervillains

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IVIt was Thanksgiving dinner, and the three who faced Rearden about the table were his wife, his mother and his brother."This is the night to thank the Lord for our blessings," said Rearden's mother. "God has been kind to us. There are people all over the country who haven't got any food in the house tonight, and some that haven't even got a house, and more of them going jobless every day."Recognizing your privileged existence as such, in Rand's … [Read more...]

On the Morality of: Self-Plagiarism

In my last link roundup, I mentioned a damning story that leveled charges of rampant plagiarism against Chris Hedges, a left-wing writer who really loathes New Atheism. According to the story, which was published in the New Republic after other progressive outlets declined to run it, Hedges has lifted ideas, sentences and whole passages without attribution from many other people's work, from fellow reporters at Harper's to Naomi Klein, Neil Postman and Ernest Hemingway (!!).Even though I'd … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Incorruptibles

SterlingSilver

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IIThe time has come for the first of The Speeches. These are Ayn Rand's infamous filibusters in which the action comes to a halt so that one of her characters can deliver a lengthy philosophical lecture expounding their author's views. The speech in this chapter is one of the shorter ones - a mere 2,600 words, scarcely a footnote compared to what's coming later - but even that would take at least 20 minutes to recite at normal speed. Naturally, in the world … [Read more...]

A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 4

This is part 4 of my "Think! Of God and Government" debate series with Christian author Andrew Murtagh. Read my latest post and Andrew's reply.Hi Andrew,It's been a while, but it's good to hear from you again. Of course, I'm looking forward to our next in-person matchup on Memorial Day weekend. This time I'll be the one with home-court advantage!Just as we agree that morality is a real phenomenon with both rational and empirical components, I think there are moral skeptics among … [Read more...]


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