Republicans are Devolving

According to Pew Research, there's a widening gap between Republicans and Democrats on the issue of evolution:In 2009, 54% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats said humans have evolved over time, a difference of 10 percentage points. Today, 43% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats say humans have evolved, a 24-point gap.Pew says that there are no similar shifts in other demographics. Racially and religiously we're pretty much where we were five years ago. That suggests that people who … [Read more...]

Is Neutrality Possible?

We've been having some interesting conversations here recently. One of them took place in the Jefferson vs. Story post. In a discussion of separation of church and state, one of the commenters suggested that this was a battle between people who want a government that advocates Christianity or a government that advocates secularism.This is an old accusation. It's been a staple since the Reagan revolution. The idea is that secularism is itself a religion, usually called "secular humanism." … [Read more...]

Who Is This Guy Again?

One of the problems with being out of touch with pop culture is that I frequently get caught off guard by the latest controversy.So with that: who's this guy with the shrub stuck to his face, and why should I care what he thinks about homosexuality?And why does he need to be defended by every right wing politico with a social media account?Anyway, my Christmas gift to you is this: I'm going to shut up and not talk about this anymore. … [Read more...]

What’s So Civil about Civil Religion?

The Patheos overlords have a question:The late sociologist Robert Bellah argued that American civil religion had become an "empty and broken shell" by the turn of the twenty-first century. Is it a concept worth reviving?Eh, what a question. "Civil religion" is impossible to define, with multiple etymologies and a history of causing confusion. Bellah spent the rest of his career being ambivalent about the phrase he'd popularized, dropping it and distancing himself from other people who … [Read more...]

We Are All Covered in Star Stuff

(Image via It's Okay to be Smart)Adam Frank talks about Sagan's immortal line, and its more prosaic but no less remarkable corollary. He does the math to describe just how much space dust is falling on us right this minute. It's enough to make you want to stay in the shower.(I'm actually working with some micrometeorite slides at the moment. I'm tediously scanning them, looking for the tiny craters caused by collisions with space dust. And of course the f'n stuff is all around me.) … [Read more...]