Patrick Blanchfield writes for The Revealer: God And Guns
Setting aside both its lyrical merits and ideological upshot, of all responses to Obama’s remarks, Skynyrd’s song had the distinction of being perhaps the most honest – and, as a matter of simple description, the most analytically accurate. For the bare fact of the matter is that whatever you may think of God, or of guns, American history would be unrecognizable without the influence of both. God and machine, ever-in-tandem, producing a nation “strong” not just in the narrow sense of being powerful, but also in the etymological sense of resolute violence, of an abiding legacy of wreckage unparalleled by any other nation on Earth.[more inside]
RIP Lemmy Kilmister Jimi Hendrix Experience roadie, Hawkwind bass player and Motörhead frontman Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister passed away today at age 70.
'If there’s one point on which I agree with the leftist weaklings, it’s 1) that McDonald’s must go and 2) that American citizens should be forced en masse to take a course in phenomenology, so that they can develop the proper philosophical disposition necessary for understanding the incarnate evil of the chicken nugget.' Thomas Meaney profiles Edward Luttwak, strategy consultant, historian, rancher, right-wing bloviator, classicist and LRB contributor. [more inside]
"He believed that since the coconut grew high up in the tree, closest to God and closest to the sun, it was godlike. And since it had hair and looked like a human head, he thought it came closest to being a man. According to his rather crackpot theory, to be a cocovore was to be a theophage — or eater of God."
Why do some people refer to themselves in the third person? asks Vanessa Barford, in a BBC News Magazine article. Misteraitch doesn’t know. The act of referring to oneself in this way is known as Illeism (Wikipedia) (apparently from the Latin ille meaning “he, that”). At Language Log, Arnold Zwicky writes on Illeism and its Relatives, and maintains that illeism in young children ought not be blamed on Elmo. [more inside]
Teleotheism and the Purpose of Life - "Please give this sermon a try. I think it has much in it that will be of interest to a wide range of readers: philosophy, cosmology, evolutionary theory, and science fiction, as well as theology. And nothing in it depends on believing in God at all." Abstract: As an enlightened form of atheism, I turn to teleotheism. Teleotheism is the view that God comes at the end, not at the beginning, where I am defining “God” as “the greatest of all things that can come true.” In this view, the quest to discover what are the greatest things that are possible is of the utmost importance. The best of our religious heritage is just such an effort to discover the greatest things that are possible. (via; previously)
Wanted: A Theology of Atheism by Molly Werthen [New York Times] [Op-Ed] What do people who don’t believe in God believe instead?
Amber Galloway Gallego performs Eminem's Rap God in ASL.
Simply said, we have reached a moment in Western history when, despite all appearances, no meaningful public debate over belief and unbelief is possible. Not only do convinced secularists no longer understand what the issue is; they are incapable of even suspecting that they do not understand, or of caring whether they do. David Bentley Hart on Adam Gopnik's review of the state of theism and atheism.
God, you sent gluten into this world as you sent your own Son, to save us, not to torment us with vague and possibly imaginary physical symptoms. So please help certain people to remember, gracious Lord, even as they shun and revile gluten, that it is still a creation of your own Almighty hand, and that, being God, you probably knew what you were doing when you created it. Enlighten those of us in your flock, O Lord, who go about slandering gluten with great authority and volume, even though they never heard of gluten until last year. [more inside]
A gigabyte and a half was a lot of data, once. It’s thought that the last person to have read every available published text was the fifteenth-century Italian philosopher and original Renaissance man, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. To do the same thing today would be impossible. And as it turns out, the greatest collaborative literary project in human history isn’t really human at all.
Ridley Scott's new film Exodus: Gods and Kings recasts the myth of Moses in typically grimdark swords-and-sandals fashion. It... ain't so good. Want something more artful? Look no further than The Prince of Egypt [alt], an underrated masterpiece of DreamWorks' traditional animation era. Directed by Brenda Chapman (a first for women in animation), scored to spectacular effect by Hans Zimmer and Stephen Schwartz, and voiced by, among others, Voldemort, Batman, and Professor X, the ambitious film features gorgeous, striking visuals and tastefully integrated CGI in nearly every scene. It also manages the improbable feat of maturing beyond cartoon clichés while humanizing the prophet's journey from carefree scion to noble (and remorseful) liberator without offending half the planet -- while still being quite a fun ride. Already seen it? Catch the making-of documentary, or click inside for more. [more inside]
The Norden is a Finnish TV series, taking Americans and introducing them to their profession within the Nordic countries. First, James Conway, retired Superintendent of Attica Correctional Facility in New York, visits four Nordic prisons and facilities. An excerpt, and the full episode with English subtitles. [more inside]
Politico: "Young called his creed 'the religion of nature' and 'the religion of nature’s God.' And he made abundantly clear that, in his own mind, this radical philosophical religion was the axis on which the Revolution turned. For him, the project to free the American people from the yoke of King George III was part of a grander project to liberate the world from the ghostly tyranny of supernatural religion." [more inside]
How New World Wine Resurrects Old Religion
I used to be a regular at a wine bar in San Clemente, a beach town in California where my wife and I lived when we were first married. The ‘Tuscan’ decor of the place was a little too vivid for my taste, but the wine was priced right and the owner was a great conversationalist. He would tell us stories from behind the bar about his travels to vineyards in Chile and New Zealand, and he had a charming populist streak. When people got too pretentious about the wine, he would roll his eyes and say: ‘Relax, it’s just a beverage.’ He was wrong about that, of course. Since its invention more than 8,000 years ago, wine has always been more than just a beverage.
In this short documentary, filmmaker Darrin Johnson explores the status of atheism within African-American families and communities, and meets some non-believers from California about their experiences with breaking from religion.
Do we have good reason to think God exists? We do, says William Lane Craig. Craig has debated several high profile atheists, including Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins.
David Chalmers and Alan Hájek give a one-page argument that the Ramsey test and Moorean reasoning entail that rational subjects should accept that they have the epistemic powers of a god [pdf]. [more inside]
The waning influence of evangelical Christianity can be seen through the story of Orange County's Crystal Cathedral.
The first trailer for Noah, the forthcoming Paramount Picture biblical epic, is online. With a budget of $130 million, and slated for release in March/April 2014, and with a cast of stars, this covers Chapter 6-9 of the Book of Genesis. Filming took place mostly in Iceland, with some scenes in New York State. [more inside]
Evangelical churches across the country run "hell houses" on Halloween. These attractions show how "sinful" activities can ruin young lives. Some churches are trying to be more positive in their messaging. For those who are interested, you can now buy your own "hell house" outreach kit. [more inside]
Dhikr (or Zihr) is a islamic devotional act involving the remembrance, the chanting, and repeating of the names of God. Though this often happens in silence, the Sufi tend to have ritualized group ceremonies ranging in style from the Whirling Dervishes of the Mevlevi to the fervid dancing of the Chechen.
"Most of us are introduced to God at about the same time as we hear about Santa Claus, but over the years our views of Santa mature and change, while our notion of God often gets stuck at an infantile level."
The NewStatesman asks "After God: What can atheists learn from believers?"
The NewStatesman asks "After God: What can atheists learn from believers?"
How Humankind's Theory of Mind Could Have Produced God "As a direct consequence of the evolution of the human social brain, and owing to the importance of our theory-of-mind skills in that process, we sometimes can't help but see intentions, desires, and beliefs in things that haven't even a smidgeon of a neural system... More than a few of us have kicked our broken-down vehicles in the sides and verbally abused our incompetent computers.... So it would appear that having a theory of mind was so useful for our ancestors in explaining and predicting other people's behaviors that it has completely flooded our evolved social brains. As a result, today we overshoot our mental-state attributions to things that are, in reality, completely mindless. And all of this leads us, rather inevitably, to a very important question: What if I were to tell you that God's mental states, too, were all in your mind?" [more inside]
The Bible & Terminator 2: Heteroglossic discourse and poetic authority.
Scotch and Wry, Scotland's greatest comedy. As the rest of the world celebrates New year's Eve and bringing in 2012, there's the little matter of Hogmanay. You might think it's just a fancy scottish word for the start of a three day party (which it is), but it's a special time of year. And for those of us who watched the new year come in on TV, it's the point of year where we all miss Rikki Fulton's Scotch and Wry - a TV ritual for over twenty years that has never been equalled. [more inside]
"Here, in my final post on the ending, I present the case that its final hour was the worst ending in the history of science fiction on the screen. This is a condemnation of course, but also praise, because my message is not simply that the ending was poor, but that the show rose so high that it was able to fall so very far." -Brad Templeton's dissection of the modern version of Battlestar Galatica and where it went wrong
My assumption has always been: If something like a soul exists, and it affects our consciousness in any manner, then it must be detectable by some scientific device. I find it difficult to imagine that something can interact with my physical body without leaving any physical trace. But though I find it hard to imagine, is it possible for something like a soul to interact with me without leaving any physical trace?
This weekend marks the time of the Hajj, a core pillar of Islam in which great tides of humanity venture to the ancient city of Mecca to honor God. Predating Mohammed's birth by centuries, the pilgrimage comprises several days of rites, from congregation like snow on Mount Arafat and the ritual stoning of Shaitan to the circling of the sacred Kaaba (the shrouded cubical monolith Muslims pray toward daily) and kissing the Black Stone (colored by the absorption of myriad sins, and believed by some to be a fallen meteorite). While the city has modernized to handle this largest of annual gatherings -- building highway-scale ramps, gaudy skyscrapers for the ultra-rich, and tent cities the size of Seattle -- it remains mysterious, as unbelievers are forbidden from entering its borders. Richard Francis Burton became famous for touring the city in disguise to write a rare travelogue, but contemporary viewers have a more immediate guide: Vice Magazine journalist Suroosh Alvi, who smuggled a minicam into the city to record The Mecca Diaries [alt], a 14-minute documentary of his own Hajj journey. Browse the manual to see what goes into a Hajj trip, or watch the YouTube livestream to see the Grand Mosque crowds in real time.
In a regular spot on the show called The Pitch, ABC Television’s The Gruen Transfer (previously) this week asked two ad agencies to come up with a pitch for why religion should be banned. Here are the pitches in SYTL format.
Meet Bebe Gloton, the Breastfeeding Doll who's coming to America. The NY Times opines, Facebook users can't agree on whether it's good or bad, but what does God think?
We've met Ween before, so I don't need to provide further introduction to this 25 minute long sampling of a 3 hour concert in Australia. It's from 2008, but recently put online courtesy of BTFishing. Wait, who? Yes, it's Dean Ween gone fishing. Mickey Melchiondo Jr. (aka Dean Ween) previously shared his love of fishing in the Brownie Troop Fishing Show. He now runs Mike's Guide service, sometimes going directly from shows to go fishing. See also: Dean Wean's Tips For Amateur Anglers, and an article on the Brownie Troop Fishing Show.
Rap disaster! Earnest boy attempts dc Talk's "Nu Thang." The band Capital Cities offers a redemptive remix. (Download.)
Rumor Sweeping World's Science Community that CERN's LHC has Detected the Higgs Boson -The "God Particle"
Rumor Sweeping World's Science Community that CERN's LHC has Detected the Higgs Boson -The "God Particle" The controversial rumor is based on what appears to be a leaked internal note from physicists at CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 17-mile-long particle accelerator near Geneva, Switzerland. It's not certain at this point if the memo is authentic, or what the data it refers to might mean — but the note has sent the physics community into full buzz mode.
Full-on metaphysics. In meme form I know I probably shouldn't. It's too trite. Memes. Just shoot me now. One of probably many previouslies
Lack of Belief in gods by Qualiasoup. SLYT; 10.00; "Explaining the concept, refuting common objections and giving a number of reasons that atheists are sometimes 'fervent'."
On January 5th, 2011 largely unknown modern composer, and pioneer of long format compositions on early computer systems Roland Kayn "... left this world today from his home". [more inside]
Did the ancient Israelites drink beer? Although at the time beer was consumed by “men, women and even children of all social classes,” references to it in the Bible are scant. Beer production at the time was similar to bread, where wheat and barley cakes were baked then rehydrated to ferment -- a process much like the ancient Egyptian method of fermentation, as found in the Hymn of Ninkasi, which was recreated by Fritz Maytag of Anchor Brewing. You too can be a part of beer history by brewing your own Archeobeer.
Ask the atheist "Have a question for an atheist? Ever wonder what atheists think about morality, faith, science, etc.? How do atheists live their lives without a god? How do they know right from wrong? Are they just angry at god? Do they really NOT believe?" [more inside]
David Bazan was the lead singer for a band called Pedro the Lion, who were big on the Christian rock circuit. A few years ago, Bazan began questioning his faith, and ultimately left Christianity. He has found understanding from his fans.
GodBlock is a web filter that blocks religious content. It is targeted at parents and schools who wish to protect their kids from the often violent, sexual, and psychologically harmful material in many holy texts, and from being indoctrinated into any religion before they are of the age to make such decisions. When installed properly, GodBlock will test each page that your child visits before it is loaded, looking for passages from holy texts, names of religious figures, and other signs of religious propaganda. If none are found, then your child is allowed to browse freely.
Doodle God is a unique Flash game. Start with just earth, air, fire, and water. Combine them to create the universe.
Science vs. Religion: a new book, Science and Religion: What Scientists Really Think by Rice University sociologist Elaine Ecklund, discusses the results of her detailed study of 1,646 scientists at top American research universities. Among her findings: ~36% of those surveyed not only believe in God but also practice a form of closeted, often non-traditional faith. They worry about how their peers would react to learning about their religious views. Interview with the author from the Center for Inquiry's Point of Inquiry podcast. Also, here's a webcast from an author discussion forum held at Rice University on April 7th. [more inside]