Rational Faith: More working hypothesis than logical proof

Editors' Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on Faith and Reason. Read other perspectives here.This month, Patheos asked bloggers to contribute to a Public Square symposium on the question “Is Faith Rational, Irrational, or Arational?" Since I used to work teaching Bayesian statistics for the Center for Applied Rationality and I'm now a statistician for FiveThirtyEight, I'm coming down firmly on the "Rational" side of this trilemma.But "rational" may not mean what you … [Read more...]

Life Lessons that Can’t be Taught at College’s Scale

In Ethika Politika, Margaret Blume explains why she's preferred her studies at Notre Dame to her undergrad years at Yale, my own alma mater.  Yale has distribution requirements (Writing, Science, Humanities, Quantitative Reasoning, etc), but no single course is required -- your math credit can come from econ or astronomy or set theory.  Blume found that the Chinese menu course of study left her and some of her classmates feeling ungrounded: Yale’s system, which does not include theology and is b … [Read more...]

Books that Change the Way You Think [Radio Readings]

You can listen to “Fights in Good Faith,” my weekly radio program, streaming today at 5pm ET and tomorrow (Sun) at 1pm.  The audio is now up for streaming at my show's page.Plus, this Monday, you can come see me speak in person in San Francisco.Every week, I put up a “Radio Readings” post, so you can track down the books, articles, and, this week: Passover songs(!) that I cite on the show. So, without further ado, here’s what I’m talking about this week.  Reading Out of Your … [Read more...]

Your religion… is it bigger than a breadbox?

I've been meaning for a while to highlight an interesting project that Christian H has been carrying out on his blog: coming up with taxonomies for religions. And I'm a big fan of the reason he started this project: While trying to find ways to frame my understanding of different religions, and different individuals’ religion, is a worthwhile activity in itself, I would be lying if I claimed that my primary motivation was anthropological or psychological. Rather, I’ve primarily been imagining th … [Read more...]

Filing Down the Sharp Edges of Failure [Pope Francis Bookclub]

In 2014, I’m reading and blogging through Pope Francis/Cardinal Bergoglio’s Open Mind, Faithful Heart: Reflections on Following Jesus.  Every Monday, I’ll be writing about the next meditation in the book, so you’re welcome to peruse them all and/or read along.There are two paragraphs in particular from this week's chapter that give a pretty good impression of what Pope Francis is talking about when he titled this section "The Failure of Jesus" Our human tendency is to disguise all evidence … [Read more...]

Mind Continuing this Argument in a Counterfactual World?

Cass Sunstein is mounting a defense of historical counterfactuals in The New Republic.  At their simplest (and, he would argue, most useful), they are baked into the entire historical discipline: Yet the most fundamental problem is that Evans does not grapple sufficiently with the fact that historians do not only offer narratives; they also offer explanations. They say that some event—the rise of Nazism, the Vietnam war, the election of Ronald Reagan, the attacks of 9 / 11—had particular causes. … [Read more...]

Of Morality and Mandelbrot [Pope Francis Bookclub]

In 2014, I’m reading and blogging through Pope Francis/Cardinal Bergoglio’s Open Mind, Faithful Heart: Reflections on Following Jesus.  Every Monday, I’ll be writing about the next meditation in the book, so you’re welcome to peruse them all and/or read along.This week, in my Pope Francis reading, I found his description of… for lack of a better word, the discretion of higher truths a little confusing: Truth has great value, but it lacks immediate clout, whereas power coerces.  Paradoxically … [Read more...]


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