Doctor Who: The Monster of Peladon

The episode “The Monster of Peladon“sees the Doctor return to Peladon. The daughter of king Peladon (whom the Doctor met in the earlier episode “The Curse of Peladon“) is now reigning. Superstition is a major focus in the episode, the plot of which revolves around a rebellion by miners and political machinations that are instigating [Read More...]

Science, Magic, and Religion: An Online Course

Via StumbleUpon, an old IO9 post came to my attention, highlighting a number of free online courses. One of them is a history class offered by UCLA on “Science, Magic, and Religion,” and the lectures are available on YouTube. Here is the first one: [Read more...]

Dangerous Superstition

I saw a news article today about the murder of Narendra Dabholkar in Pune, India. Dabholkar was an activist opposing superstition and blind faith. He was killed, not by a spell or a lightning bolt, but by human beings whose love of superstition of whatever sort did not give them supernatural power. They used technology, [Read More...]

Debatable

Fred Clark has a great post on magic tricks and the art of debate, which he starts off by saying ““Debate” is a parlor trick.” Here is a sample: When Ray Comfort challenges someone to a debate over the truth of Christianity, I wince because I am a Christian and I know that Comfort is [Read More...]

Comparison and Collation of Mandaean Texts

The second paper this morning was by Tania Notarius, and is on the relationship between a variety of overlapping and partially-overlapping manuscripts we have, each of which is a compilation of smaller collections of individual magical incantations, together with explanations for how to use them. Often these sorts of things were copied by scribes who [Read More...]

Wizard, Time Lord – Same Difference?

I saw this image on Facebook, and it reminded me of a point I have made several times before. Some people are adamant about the difference between science fiction and fantasy. But the truth is that the dividing line is at best blurry, and perhaps non-existent. If Doctor Who featured a wizard with a magical [Read More...]

Doctor Who: The Snowmen

Tonight’s episode of Doctor Who, the long-awaited Christmas special “The Snowmen,” did a wonderful job of preserving the humor, magic, and terror that make Doctor Who more than a science fiction show. SPOILERS AHEAD! The episode begins with a Doctor that is gloomy and withdrawn, having decided to try to avoid becoming attached to anyone [Read More...]

The Historical Jesus around the Blogosphere

There’s a lot of interesting stuff in the blogosphere in the past day or so related to topics of regular interest on this blog. Bart Ehrman offered a lengthy reply to Richard Carrier. Ehrman also did an interview at Religion Dispatches about his latest book, Did Jesus Exist? Thom Stark deals with Richard Carrier’s attempt [Read More...]

Thor: A World Where Magic and Science are the Same

I finally got around to watching the movie Thor last night and early this morning, and I’m glad I did. Thor has always been an interesting character in the realm of comic book superheroes. Others were godlike or messianic in character, and the lines between sci-fi and the supernatural, always blurry even at the best [Read More...]

Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe

The 2011 Doctor Who Christmas special, “The Doctor, The Widow, and The Wardrobe,” is full of all the magic one expects from a Doctor Who Christmas special. If you have yet to watch it, do not read on (but do click through and watch the prequel before watching the episode, since it depicts the moments [Read More...]

Longing for Magic and Miracle (Is Science Fiction Simply Fantasy?)

A question to which I keep returning is whether science fiction is fundamentally different than fantasy. Both have worlds very different than our own, battles between good and evil, monsters, heroes, and usually even energy weapons of some sort. Obviously the difference is that there is at least a pretense of scientific basis in science [Read More...]


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