High weirdness

Like many creationism-watchers, I regularly visit sites such as The Discovery Institute, Answers in Genesis, and so on. I like weirdness, and these are good places to find views that are very weird from a mainstream scientific standpoint.Today I ran into a paper in the Answers Research Journal that is high weirdness indeed: "An Apology and Unification Theory for the Reconciliation of Physical Matter and Metaphysical Cognizance" by Desmond P. Allen. Hoo boy. I don't know how to describe … [Read more...]

Candidates and deities

Today's This Modern World cartoon should be of interest to those who do "not profess belief in the one true grouping of deities." … [Read more...]

Pew Forum survey on American religion

A survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life of 35,000 Americans found that 44% of them have changed affiliations between "major faith traditions," such as from Baptist to Methodist. 28% have switched between traditions.Protestants make up a bare majority of Americans--51.3%.16% classify themselves as not affiliated with any faith (despite only 7% being brought up that way), and 4% as atheist or agnostic.Mormons account for 1.7% of the population, Muslims 0.6%, and Hindus 0.4%.Those … [Read more...]

German children’s book against religion

Apparently, the German Family Ministry is trying to get a children's book critical of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam "to be included on a list of literature considered dangerous for young people." The book includes religious figures depicted in unflattering, broadly stereotypical ways.Now, it looks like the book is indeed offensive, in the sense that if I were religious, I'd certainly be offended by it. But I don't know how much of this would be religious hypersensitivity. Children's … [Read more...]

Art, schmart

Occasionally I run into the complaint that without the influence of religious culture, art suffers. Modern art, apparently, is the inevitable result of a civilization that has lost interest in God; it is the sort of ugly, purposeless, offensive stuff you get when art loses track of transcendent ideals.I guess if you believe in Beauty with a capital B, and that art (should that be Art?) should be about reaching into the higher Platonic realms to nourish the soul or whatever, some of this might … [Read more...]

Putting religion in schools to defend evolution?

John West, an Intelligent Design proponent, writes that religious liberals and even secularists are injecting religion into public school classrooms. They do this by promoting varieties of theology that are warmer toward biological evolution than ID. West might have a point. I don't trust ID people— in my experience, they're not reliable sources, putting their disagreeable spin on everything they talk about. And I'm way out of my depth when it comes to any law-related issue. But there is … [Read more...]

A cynic’s guide to academic departments

Mathematics: Mathematicians get to make up anything they want as long as it's consistent. They therefore have a tenuous connection to reality and tend to be susceptible to crank notions.Statistics: Supposed to be about nothing in particular: a statistician can tell you how to analyze data gathered from any field of inquiry. This works exactly as well as the notion that you can manage a company without having to know anything about the industry it operates in.Computer Science: There is some … [Read more...]

Materialists and dualists

There's an interesting blog-debate between skeptic Steven Novella and intelligent design proponent Michael Egnor. Both Egnor and Novella come from a neuroscience background, though Novella's materialism is by far the more scientifically mainstream view than Egnor's dualism.I am entirely in Novella's camp, I confess. The materialist position is continuous with the rest of science, is making steady progress, and occasionally comes up with surprising explanations rather than just rephrasing folk … [Read more...]