David Brooks and the Social Automaton

After reading my slam on David Brooks's The Social Animal, Dylan had some objections: "Other than the fact that it's terribly, terribly written and completely expository (it makes the Emile, on which it is clearly modeled, look like an actual novel by comparison), what's so "yikes" about the exact passage you excerpted? Can you really be such a HP&TMoR fan/transhumanist and also think that treating so-called "cognitive biases" as limitations to be overcome is tantamount to "unweaving the … [Read more...]

Two (Much Caveated) Recommendations

 Today's installment of the Sunday's Good Book series of reviews was meant to be about Robert Alter's Pen of Iron: American Prose and the King James Bible, but I'll confess I didn't get around to finishing the admittedly slim volume.It was recommended to me by the professor of my oratory class, but I misunderstood the nature of the book. I had thought it was a series of case studies of biblical rhetoric in American political language, or American culture broadly.  It turned out to … [Read more...]

“I was born and bred in a paradox patch!”

I've been writing a series of posts on the intellectual attraction I've felt to G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy, and some Christian theology generally.  There will be a major update in that series tomorrow, but, in the meantime, here's an overview of my biggest problem with Chesterton.In my life as a debater, there's a particular rhetorical trick that I live in fear of.  Picture this:Armed with knowledge of your opponent's principles, you construct a reductio ad absurdum argument.  Careful to … [Read more...]

A Few Stories Worth Their Salt

After hearing today's readings at Mass, I wanted to share a favorite non-fiction book with you all.  For those who don't attend Mass, today's gospel reading was from Matthew 5:13-16: Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it … [Read more...]

An Attraction to Orthodoxy (Series)

As part of my Sunday's Good Book series, I posted about G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy and explained that there was a lot that I found compelling and challenging about his philosophy.  Since that's a sorta weird thing for an atheist to say, discussion ensued and is ongoing.  Here's all the posts on this topic to date: I Assign You Reading! - As a prelude to my discussion of Chesterton, I highlighted an essay by Eve Tushnet about when, if ever, people should let their ethics refute t … [Read more...]

Strobel’s One-Sided Cases

I’m reviewing Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus and The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity together since my objections to both of them are pretty much the same. I was more interested in The Case for Christ, which focuses on evidence for the historical Christ and his divinity than The Case for Faith which focused on theodicy. I don’t view theodicy as that much of a problem for … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (1/21/11)

--1-- Earlier this week, I posted the lengthy list of books that readers recommended in response to my New Year's Challenge.  I've been looking through the list, and I'm narrowing down some books to start with.  This Sunday, I'll be posting my thoughts about Lee Strobel's The Case for Faith, a book I was in the middle of before I solicited suggestions.  The books that follow are the one's I'm most inclined to read next, so they may be showing up on a "Sunday's Good Book" feature sooner rather th … [Read more...]


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