Tag Archives: Voltaire

Blame Atheists for Ballooning Budget Deficits and Islam’s Growing Clout in Europe?

Maybe. In a fascinating summary, at NewGeography.com, of global demographic research, Joel Kotkin points the finger at Enlightenment secularism for the ballooning budget deficits and low birth rates in industrialized countries: The increasingly perilous shape of public finance in almost all … Continue reading

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Twitter Blasphemy: 18,000 Facebookers Call for the Death of Feminist Hamza Kashgari for Insulting the Prophet Muhammad

As of this morning, 18,000 is the number of Facebookers calling for the death of Hamza Kashgari for Twitter blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad. The number was 8,000 on Thursday, 13,000 on Friday, and 16,000 on Saturday. Does anyone know … Continue reading

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All-American Muslim on TLC: Do These People Represent the Future of Islam?

This new reality series seems hopeful: ___ I’ve long thought, and still think, that American Muslims represent Islam’s future (which I take to be the religion’s gradual but definite liberalization and rapprochement with western Enlightenment modernism). I’m betting that a century from now the … Continue reading

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Paul Wallace Claims Fundamentalism, Gnu Atheism, and Modernism Are All Doomed

In a blog post at RD Magazine titled, “Atheism is Doomed,” Paul Wallace draws a curious equivalence between fundamentalism and atheism for which he provides no evidence: [T]he sound and fury of contemporary religious fundamentalism is the last desperation of a dying worldview. It … Continue reading

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Kansas City Bishop Robert W. Finn Knew of the Child Pornography Photographs Taken by Father Shawn Ratigan

Father Robert W. Finn is bishop of the Kansas City-St. Joseph archdiocese. He is also, according to today’s New York Times, an outspoken theological conservative. And he’s a protector of at least one child abuser. That child abuser’s name is Father Shawn Ratigan. Here’s the … Continue reading

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Debating the Future of Islam in Egypt

The birth pangs of a new Egypt: a Hitler-like religious fanatic (living in London!) argues with an Enlightenment influenced liberal over the future of Egypt: Hat tip: Concerned Christian.

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Damon Linker Owns the New Atheists

Damon Linker, a contributor to the New Republic, is, to my mind, one of the more insightful writers on religion and irreligion writing in the United States today. In a recent interview with The Economist, Linker offers what I can only describe … Continue reading

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The Prodigal Son (and Daughter) Culture

Should we call our time the era of the prodigal sons and daughters? Chris Hedges, from page 44 of his book Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle  (Nation Books, 2009): We are a culture … Continue reading

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The Tea Party Movement: America’s Herderites (or Herderians)

One of the books I’ve been reading this summer is Zeev Sternhell’s The Anti-Enlightenment Tradition  (Yale 2010), and this morning the opening paragraph of chapter 6 (pg. 274) really jumped out at me: The antirationalist form of modernity, as we have … Continue reading

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Why We Should Build Human Solidarity on Reason, Not Race, Faith, or Nation

Reason, to my mind, is a human universal (though some do it far better than others). In other words, barring intellectual disability or brain injury, human beings have a universal capacity for reasoning with others: we can deduct, induct, experiment, … Continue reading

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Do You Support a Burqa Ban in France?

About 2000 Muslim women in France wear the full body burqa, and the French Parliament is slated to vote on its ban Tuesday. The idea of a burqa ban is popular in France (in polls, about 80% of French citizens tend to … Continue reading

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Henry James’ “The Last of the Valerii”: Breaking the Spell of Religion?

Henry James has an intriguing, but not widely known, tale of a person coming under the spell of a religious mania. James titled it: The Last of the Valerii The short story is set in Rome, and the narrator is the godfather of an … Continue reading

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Is Life’s Meaning to Be Found in the Myth of Sisyphus, Bunyan’s Pilgrim, Voltaire’s Candide, Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Shakespeare’s Stage—or Something Else?

Albert Camus famously said that the first question of philosophy is suicide: is life’s game worth the candle? Camus thought that it was. Yes, the universe appears to be absurd (without meaning, unity, or purpose), and yes, Sisyphus was Camus’s chosen symbol for the … 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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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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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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A bit of writing advice from Voltaire

Trying to find your take on the world, and your writing voice? Here’s a bit of advice from the 18th century philosopher, Voltaire (from the “Authors” entry in his Philosophical Dictionary ): If you are said to be sick, content yourself … Continue reading

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Muslim assaults cartoonist on a university campus

But don’t call his violence Islamofascism. This reported today by AP: A Swedish artist who angered Muslims by depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a dog said Tuesday he was assaulted while giving a lecture at a university. Lars Vilks told The Associated Press a … Continue reading

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Matt and Trey could equal an earthquake in LA!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              . At least that is the implied claim of the Pakistani-born Muslim I took a picture of above (as he was passing out free copies of the Quran). The picture was taken this weekend during the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books … Continue reading

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Two books for thinking about Chile’s devestating magnitude 8.8 earthquake this morning

See here and here.

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