A non-believer’s guide to biblical economics

I’ve studied economics and taught mathematics to students who became economists, but I’m not an economist. Still, I know enough to recognize that economists sometimes selectively focus on data that fit their liberal or conservative ideologies. At least both sides work with data and try to make convincing arguments for their models. Economists of all stripes recognize that their own models are by no means perfect. I should have known it would be only a matter of time before biblical economics tur … [Read more...]

Mitt Romney: A reasonable man?

Here’s a hypothetical scene in which four presidential candidates are asked about their religious views. Candidate 1: “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” He adds, “And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.” Candidate 2: “As I understand the Christi … [Read more...]

Pro-choice and pro life

I consider myself both pro-choice and pro-life, because I support a woman’s right to choose and I oppose capital punishment. I’ve heard reasoned and nuanced arguments from both sides on these controversial issues, and I appreciate people who make it a point to listen to those with whom they disagree. What I don’t appreciate are pandering politicians like Texas Governor Rick Perry, who take simple positions with bible-based answers, while ignoring any evidence-based, opposing points of view. You … [Read more...]

Pluralism at Ground Zero

During my lifetime, our foreign policy has been defined by two wars: a cold one with Soviet-style Communism and a hot one with Islamic-style terrorism. Neither kind of war is good, but cold is better. We have no monuments, sites, or dates to honor American victims who died on our soil because of the Cold War. That’s why it was called “cold.” This is not in any way a justification for the horrible dictatorships in the Soviet Union. That regime had much in common with many Mideast countries: an ide … [Read more...]

A religious and secular studies major

“They can send me to college, but they can’t make me think,” bragged a bumper sticker I recently spotted in my hometown. I can tell you from personal experience that this is sometimes true. It’s even more unfortunate that many college students want to take courses where they can get good grades without being critically challenged. In mathematics, my field of professorial expertise, lots of students hope to get by through rote memorization. This is not how mathematics works, and any teacher who a … [Read more...]

Science is not democratic

Republican candidate Rick Perry is being compared to George W. Bush, our most recent president from Texas. Here is one place the comparison breaks down. Perry is not campaigning to be the “Education President,” as Bush did. Whatever its merits, Bush was president when the “No child left behind” act became law. Based on Perry’s recent comments, it looks like he is more interested in leaving every child behind. When a little boy in New Hampshire was prompted by his mother to ask Perry about evoluti … [Read more...]

Rest is a human need

At ten-years-old, while still an Orthodox Jew, I wondered why an all-powerful God had to take a day off each week to rest. I also worried about what bad things might happen to us if such a controlling God should fall asleep at the wheel of the universe. As an atheist, I now appreciate the sentiment of a perceptive biblical writer more than I did when I believed rest was a commandment from God. Occasionally the Bible gets it right, and this is one of those occasions. Regardless of theological … [Read more...]

Human solutions for human problems

Prayer, at best, can be an effective placebo. It helps believers feel they are doing something positive, and prayers might even “cure” some psychosomatic disorders. Now let’s look at the prayers of politicians. Several presidential candidates asked God whether they should run, and God said “yes.” Funny how God’s plan always seems to be the same as that of the politician who asks for guidance. God even told Tim Scott, my congressman, that he should oppose the Boehner Bill to raise the debt ceilin … [Read more...]


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