Monthly Archives: June 2010

Ron Rosenbaum separates the sheep from the asses with one question: why is there something rather than nothing?

In a recent Slate article, Ron Rosenbaum affirms his agnosticism against both theists and atheists, and offers atheists in particular a “show me the money” question: Rosenbaum wants atheists to write and tell him how it is that something came from nothing:  … Continue reading

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The Tortoise Shell, the Umbrella, and Hindu Meditation

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says to Arjuna (Barbara Miller’s translation, pt. 2 stanzas 55-58): When he [the yogi] gives up desires in his mind, is content with the self within himself, then he is said to be a man whose insight … Continue reading

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Mental Health Break

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Rod Serling is the Devil!

Not literally, of course. But it occurred to me this morning that Rod Serling’s appeal as a guide to his Twilight Zone episodes is this: he functions as a sublimated devil, the camara darting him into visual consciousness out of nowhere. Serling is a Virgil, but not … Continue reading

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Entering the Twilight Zone via Solitude and Day Dreaming, and Maybe Meeting the Devil (or Rod Serling)

Last week, I wrote a meditative piece on the role that solitude plays in the life of the mind, and how I felt it to be akin to entering Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone (see here). I suggested that if you expose … Continue reading

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What is the Enlightenment’s Distinctive Feature? And What Contemporary Movement is the Enlightenment’s Most Representative Heir?

Zeev Sternhell, in his recent book, The Anti-Enlightenment Tradition  (Yale 2009), offers reason  as the Anglo-French Enlightenment’s distinctive feature, and the ingredient that made for its historic break with the past (41): Criticism of the existing political order, but also criticism … Continue reading

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Zeev Sternhell on The Enlightenment and Its Enemies

One of the books that I’ve been dropping in and out of this past month is Zeev Sternhell’s The Anti-Enlightenment Tradition (Yale 2009). Sternhell’s book is about 450 pages long, and I’m only 150 pages in, but I can already say that it is … Continue reading

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Truth, Socratic Dialogue, Internet Threads, and Giambattista Vico

Giambattista Vico was, from 1699-1741, a professor of rhetoric at the University of Naples, and I love the open way that he ended his speech, “On the Study Methods of Our Time” (1709). It represents well the spirit of Italian humanism that … Continue reading

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Why neither intelligent design nor young earth creationism can ever function as part of the sciences

I’ve always liked this cartoon:

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In praise of Chateauneuf (Voltaire’s godfather and tutor)

Below are some rather impious lines from La Moisade, a 17th century French satirical poem (author unknown). It opens with this sass of Mosaic legislation: A teaching so irrelevant Shall not my doubts destroy? With empty sophism thou shalt not My reason … Continue reading

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Does Megan Fox Foreshadow Our Posthuman and Atheist Future?

In Ovid’s Metamorphoses  (in Book X), Pygmalion carves a female figure out of ivory and falls in love with it: And I couldn’t help but notice, in this Interview  magazine cover promotion, the ivory-skinned Megan Fox making of herself a Pygmalion aesthetic object: Ernest … Continue reading

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Why I am not a young earth creationist

When it comes right down to it, the tensions between science and biblical literalism boil down to epistemology: how do we go about knowing things, and when is it reasonable to say, “I know something”?  In this, the scientist, in his or … Continue reading

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Red State

A nervy image. And Andrew Sullivan explains: This is a map of global temperature anomalies for last month. Pretty uneventful until you get to the Arctic, where the feedback loops of warming, loss of ice-reflection, more warming and so on … Continue reading

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Are Patriotism and Religion the Last Refuges of Scoundrels?

In 1775, in the year just prior to the American Revolution, Samuel Johnson famously quipped that: Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. And this morning, thinking about this truism, I asked myself this question: What is it about patriotism that … Continue reading

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Biologist Darrel Falk: Torn Between Two Lovers (Biblical Literalists and Science-Oriented Atheists)

At a recent posting on the BioLogos website, the president of the BioLogos Foundation, Darrel Falk—who is both a Christian and a biologist—explains why he is not a young earth creationist: [To be a young earth creationist] is to reject the richness of the … Continue reading

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A Reality Check for Tea Partiers—and a Reason to Dance

At 538 yesterday was a tidy summing up of the trecherous demographic waters facing the Republican Party as it moves into the next decade or two: The Center for American Politics’ Ruy Teixeira, one of the top political demographers in … Continue reading

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The Goddess Fortuna: Thinking about Darwinian Contingency Metaphorically

I really think that Fortuna should be the matron goddess of all who have tried to absorb the full import of evolutionary contingency. Below, for example, is a painting of Fortuna by Henri Gascar, circa 1670. In this painting, Fortuna … Continue reading

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A Moses for the 21st Century: Ed Moses

Ed Moses of Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California may be leading the world—through nuclear fusion—into a real Promised Land—the Promised Land of an abundant energy future. If you are not already up to speed on what Ed Moses and his team of scientists … Continue reading

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Are Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity Religious Phonies?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         . Some people think that Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity are sincere believers in God, and they take them at their word when they call themselves Christians. I don’t. I think that all three of them, in their religious … Continue reading

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Sandra Foster, a Female Thoreau: A Little House of Her Own

Virginia Woolf once wrote of the great human need, for intellectual and emotional flourishing, of having a room of one’s own. And the New York Times today has a profile of a 40-something woman, Sandra Foster, who has built her own … Continue reading

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