Archives for April 2008

Berlinski strikes again

David Berlinski, the "agnostic mathematician" associated with the Intelligent Design movement, has just published a short piece online called "The Scientific Embrace of Atheism."It's largely a set of distortions. For example,The great physical scientists — Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Clerk Maxwell, Albert Einstein — were either men of religious commitment or religious sensibility.Well, yes and no, and of dubious relevance. All in the list except Einstein are from the 19th century or ear … [Read more...]

C.S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion

I just read the revised and updated edition of John Beversluis's C.S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion. Very interesting.I confess I hadn't paid much attention to C.S. Lewis's apologetics before. Oh, it's impossible not to know about his books, since they're so popular among conservative Christians. I've every gone through a couple. But his arguments generally struck me as, well, so weak as not to be worth spending time on.Beversluis's book surprised me. Not because of his criticism of … [Read more...]

Mecca Standard Time

According to the BBC, at recent conference in Qatar, "Muslim scientists and clerics have called for the adoption of Mecca time to replace GMT, arguing that the Saudi city is the true centre of the Earth." Indeed, "A prominent cleric, Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawy, said modern science had at last provided evidence that Mecca was the true centre of the Earth; proof, he said, of the greatness of the Muslim 'qibla' - the Arabic word for the direction Muslims turn to when they pray."Most of this is yet … [Read more...]

What about improbable events?

In some corner of the multiverse, there exists a universe-bubble with physics close enough to our own to be recognizable, but different enough to make colonizing the stars feasible. In some point in this universes history, there was a Galactic Empire that ruled over many zillions of humans with an iron fist, imposing its religion upon all its subjects.According to the theology of the One True Faith, the gods were just. The gods cared deeply that judicial procedures and punishments be carried out … [Read more...]

Global Rebellion

Secular nationalism might not take a stand on supernatural beliefs, but it restricts the public role of religion. Citizens are expected to have an allegiance to a modern state and its political process, while their specifically religious commitments get relegated to private life. Legitimate coercion, including violence, and the task of imposing public order are monopolized by a secular state. Religions that emphasize cosmic order reflected on Earth, and that legitimize coercion in the context of … [Read more...]

Expelled Exposed

The National Center for Science Education, the premier creationist-watching organization, has put up a new web site, Expelled Exposed. It criticizes Expelled, the creationist movie about to appear in theaters very soon.It's worth a look, as Expelled seems to be getting good press in some conservative Christian circles. It's bound to help the "Christians are persecuted by secular academia" meme propagate further. … [Read more...]

Davis controversy

There's a minor uproar going on among secularists about Illinois state representative Monique Davis scolding an atheist activist, sayingWhat you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous . . . it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists!Certainly an obnoxious outburst. But I also have a sneaky suspicion Davis stands out for being honest as well as perhaps bigoted.I would guess that Davis really, seriously believes in the whole package: God and the Devil, heaven a … [Read more...]

What do you mean by “meaning”?

Last year, a student told me that he could never accept evolution because that would destroy his faith, and without his faith, life would have no meaning.I think I remarked that that was interesting, and left it at that. I teach science, but I figure sorting out meaning-of-life issues is beyond my capabilities and not my job anyway. I guess I could have suggested that there are more liberal religious people who accept some version of evolution and seem to do fine in the religious meaning to life … [Read more...]