Is it Hard Out Here for a Humanist?


My alma mater is turning up in religious news stories this week.  It turns out that the Yale Humanists have asked to join the consortium at Yale Religious Ministries, and have been turned down [further discussion at Friendly Atheist].The organization in the ministry are "dedicated to the spiritual, ethical, intellectual, social, and physical welfare of students, faculty, and staff," which, for the most part, sounds like a decent match for the Humanists.  I can come up with a couple reasons th … [Read more...]

My Hatred of Football Outweighs My Apathy for Harvard

I clipped panels from this SMBC comic.  Click through to read the whole thing

I hate football.  If humans are the thinking animal, football (and the hard hits and concussion that seem to baked into the modern form of the sport) are an assault on our humanity.  Slate has a good compendium of links explaining the scope of the concussions crisis.  The most upsetting stories tend to be those of the families of the players who watch their loved ones slip into early dementia, sometimes accompanied by poor impulse control and violence.  It reminds me of Giles's line from the … [Read more...]

“Didn’t you ever break on the floor?”

debate rostrum

This post is a follow-up to a reflection on how going to rationality camp made me really grateful for my college debate experience.  "Break on the floor" is, I'm pretty sure, part of the Yale Political Union vernacular, so a definition is probably in order.  Our debates operated by Robert's Rules of order, but our parliamentary debate style bears little resemblance to the gatling-gun style of debate you may be used to from high school and college.  In some forms of competitive debate, you can … [Read more...]

The gift my weirdo debate friends gave me


Tonight is the summer alumni debate of my philosophical debating group, and I’ve had an awkward time every time someone has asked me what we’re planning to debate. You see, our topic for the night is “R: Heighten the Contradictions,” which tends to throw people for a loop if they were expecting “R: Elect Obama” “R: Repeal the Death Penalty” or something like that.By the end of rationality camp, one of the things that stuck with me was how grateful I am to have been part of this debating circl … [Read more...]

Radical Skepticism is Delusional


I had a lovely weekend arguing with undergraduates and alumni at my debating group's annual alumni banquet.  And there was one argument in particular that seems relevant to the topic of this blog.  Over dinner, one alum was talking about his upbringing in a Christian Science church and was summarizing their bizarre theology.Essentially, Christian Scientists think all evil is delusion.  God created a perfect world, and we must resist any illusion that suggest to us that the world is flawed.  T … [Read more...]

Intelligently Designing a Debate on Religion

This week, I attended a debate on "Does God Exist?" co-sponsored by the DC branch of the Center for Inquiry and the George Washington University Newman Center.  The debate format had alternating speeches by Fr. Carter Griffin and Dr. John Shook, followed by written questions from the audience.  The debate was wide ranging, with both speakers talking about the First Mover argument, scriptural authority, the degree of confidence we should have in recent scientific discoveries, the uniqueness of t … [Read more...]

Isn’t that Sweeney there beside you?

Sweeney Todd

I'm in transit today.  It's the weekend of the Harvard-Yale football game, and I'm headed up early to see the campus production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.  So while I navigate wind and rain and buses and trains, you can check out the paper I wrote on Sweeney's moral code for my Sondheim seminar last year.  I've uploaded the document "If Only Angels Could Prevail: The Moral Tragedy of Sweeney Todd" to Scribd.To be honest, I love Sweeney and Sondheim so much that I' … [Read more...]