The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown is a nine-part series posted by sci-fi author and statistician Michael F. Flynn to his blog last year, covering the historical conflict between heliocentrism and geocentrism, with a special focus on Galileo. They are based on an article (pdf) by Flynn which originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Analog. [more inside]
Is your family looking for an inclusive alternative to the Boy Scouts of America? Lance Finney posts a rundown on the Skepchick parenting blog Grounded Parents. The list is based on research he did when working to start a group with families from the Ethical Society of St. Louis that was “fully inclusive of religious belief, ethnic background, sexual orientation, and gender.” [more inside]
"Every new member of Israel’s Knesset gives a debut speech, and this year, with 48 rookies, the docket was full, with parliamentarians introducing their résumés, their proposed policies, and their hopes for the coming four-year term. One decided to ignore convention altogether. This member of Knesset used the allotted time to teach Talmud. A full third of the 19th Knesset are observant Jews, but it wasn’t any of them. It was a woman named Ruth Calderon, a Talmud scholar and the founder of two Jewish houses of study. She was elected to Knesset as No. 13 on the list of Yesh Atid, a new party headed by former journalist Yair Lapid that swept the recent elections, earning 19 seats on a promise to bring about a more equal Israel..." [more inside]
Shokri Belaid, leader of the Popular Front coalition, has been shot dead outside of his home in Tunis sending thousands of protesters in the streets. [more inside]
What might help defeat Muslim extremists in Pakistan for good? Bollywood!
Over the past three weeks, Israel has experienced what may perhaps be the largest, spontaneous / grass roots social protest of the secular middle class that it has witnessed in decades. Thousands of demonstrators in cities and towns throughout the country have been protesting cuts in government funding to health care and education, and massive, exorbitant rises in taxes and housing costs -- and demanding change. Tent cities have sprung up in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and in public gardens and parks throughout the country. And they may not be going anywhere: polls indicate Israeli support is "exceptionally high". [more inside]
Harvey Cox, one of the foremost American theologians of the twentieth century, recently retired from Harvard, where he held the oldest tenured professorship in the nation. You've seen him discussed here before for more bovine pursuits. But more importantly, he has argued that atheism is a passing fad; his new book contends it emerges in response to factors that will change the face of faith in the coming generation. Why should you care about an old theologian's last hurrah? His prior predictions have been right.
In response to the 2005 lawsuit, ACSI v. Stearns, a federal court has upheld the decision of the University of California to deny college credit for science courses that utilize texts with a religious slant. Official statement from the UCOP (PDF).
Rachida Dati, France's Minister of Justice, faces a difficult position after a judge annulled a Muslim marriage because of lies over the wife's virginity. [more inside]
Through a Glass, Darkly How the Christian right is reimagining U.S. history--from Harpers. ...producing a flood of educational texts with which to wash away the stains of secular history. ...
"Killing the Buddha is about finding a way to be religious when we're all so self-conscious and self-absorbed. Knowing more than ever about ourselves and the way the world works, we gain nothing through nostalgia for a time when belief was simple, and even less from insisting that now is such a time. Killing the Buddha will ask, How can we be religious without leaving part of ourselves at the church or temple door? How can we love God when we know it doesn't matter if we do? Call it God for the godless. Call it the search for a God we can believe in: A God that will not be an embarrassment in twelve-thousand years. A God we can talk about without qualifications." I particularly enjoyed The Temptation of Belief, by a Buddhist exploring evangelical Christianity, and My Holy Ghost People, by an unbelieving daughter in a praying-in-tongues family.
Secularism: The Turkish Experience. Here is a transcript (pdf file). It talks about the Turkish system and it contrasts the social system of the Ottoman empire, the "millet" system, with the modern one, called "laiklik" which is based on the French model.
Little-Known U.S. Document Signed by President Adams Proclaims America's Government Is Secular Some people today assert that the United States government came from Christian foundations. They argue that our political system represents a Christian ideal form of government and that Jefferson, Madison, et al, had simply expressed Christian values while framing the Constitution. If this proved true, then we should have a wealth of evidence to support it, yet just the opposite proves the case. Although, indeed, many of America's colonial statesmen practiced Christianity, our most influential Founding Fathers broke away from traditional religious thinking. The ideas of the Great Enlightenment that began in Europe had begun to sever the chains of monarchical theocracy. These heretical European ideas spread throughout early America. Instead of relying on faith, people began to use reason and science as their guide. The humanistic philosophical writers of the Enlightenment, such as Locke, Rousseau, and Voltaire, had greatly influenced our Founding Fathers and Isaac Newton's mechanical and mathematical foundations served as a grounding post for their scientific reasoning.
Secular government, extremist population? How is this going to play out? Where is America headed? Europe, France in particular, may face secular challenges because of imigration and subculture integration, but what's the excuse on the other side of the Atlantic? Is the US prepared to challenge the Middle East and Africa for the coveted Most Fundamentalist Population Prize?
The Iranian Secular Opposition Movement. I came upon this via another item I found on Plastic.com. (Where, BTW, one of the more cogent comments in the related thread was by one MayorBob) So, I'm wondering where does this lead to? The first line of that wretched 60s hit Eve Of Destruction does come to mind... Has anyone else heard anything about this?
From the essay by Ziauddin Sardar: Scroll 2/3 of the way down--it's from I.S.I.S. The Institute For Islamic Secularization A Call for Caution and Prudence * We need free inquiry of the religious premises of the growing conflagration. * We need rational debate of the questionable premises of a "holy war" or jihad. * We need a rational debate of the biblical call for retribution. * We call upon the United States not to act unilaterally and to petition the United Nations to establish a peace-keeping force. * All terrorists when apprehended should be brought to the World Court at the Hague and put on trial. * The basic constitutional civil liberties of America should not be abrogated. --Perhaps we're all best off with the godless making the rules?