Archives for 2008

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...]

Missouri and “academic freedom”

I teach at a rather nice Missouri university, and Missouri, like many (most?) states in the US, gets quite a bit of conservative Christian pressure on state-supported science education.The feeling of being persecuted has deep roots in creationist movements. It's partially true, for that matter. Within the scientific community, the small minority of creationist scientists are usually treated like deviants, and often met with offhand contempt. The notion that people are hounded out their careers … [Read more...]

Berlinski’s new book

David Berlinski, the intelligent design proponent, is out with a new book, The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions. Another hatchet job on Richard Dawkins & Co., by the looks of it. And the blurb for it online is not promising. Here are a couple of its bullet points:Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here? Not even close.Have the sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life? Not even … [Read more...]

Geert Wilders’ film “Fitna”

Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders' film, "Fitna" (Arabic for "strife" or "challenge"), has been released, first on LiveLeak (from which it has been removed) and now on YouTube (below). The film depicts unethical statements from the Koran and by Muslim leaders, as well as photographs of terrorist atrocities committed by radical Islamists. The government of Indonesia has called for YouTube to remove the video, and it has provoked calls for boycotts of Dutch goods. This will no doubt … [Read more...]

Islam surpasses Catholicism

According to the Vatican, Islam has passed Catholicism as the world religion with the largest number of adherents. The issue, according to monsignor Vittorio Formenti, is that "it is true that while Muslim families, as is well known, continue to make a lot of children, Christian ones on the contrary tend to have fewer and fewer."He's not quite saying to Catholic women that they should get back to following church teaching and have large families, or the scary Muslim infidels will overrun them. … [Read more...]

New Chick Tract

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“Power Lab” Bible School

While walking around my neighborhood, I noticed a large sign on the lawn of a minister's house. It said "Power Lab," with background iconography of an atom and a test tube. But it also said "Discovering Jesus' Miraculous Power" and "Vacation Bible School." I googled the lot when I got home. Apparently, you can buy a kit for this in Christian stores. And I noticed a good number of churches, of all sorts of denominations, have web pages up for this as their vacation bible schools. Fascinating. I … [Read more...]

Nonmetaphysical Naturalism (follow-up)

This is turning into the never ending series, but there are a couple of questions I thought were too interesting to bury in the comments.Sastra asks, "exactly how are you defining "metaphysics?" I'm not sure if you ever say, specifically. You seem to be taking it as the nature of "ultimate reality" -- but the word "ultimate" seems rather hazy and vague."It's got to be somewhat vague, I think. "Metaphysics" isn't one of those things you define by necessary and sufficient conditions. It's more of … [Read more...]