Tag: Atheism

Jack brings his National Review colleague Cameron Hilditch back to the show and attempts to force him to take a side on the plausibility of recent UFO revelations. The two then ponder the theological implications of possible extraterrestrial life, and wonder whether one should baptize an extraterrestrial.

The Atheist and the Acorn

 

This starts with a joke. Not a particularly good one, but perhaps the novelty will save the humor. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard it told.

An atheist is arguing with a priest as they walk through a grove of trees. “How can you believe in a God who created such a disordered universe? Look at these mighty oak trees. See the tiny acorns they produce. And yet the massive pumpkin grows on a feeble vine. If I had designed the world that situation would be corrected, let me tell you.”

An Atheist’s Come-to-Jesus Moment

 

Pat Santy was a NASA flight surgeon during the early years of the Space Shuttle Program. She is best known for her blog, Dr. Sanity, which ran from 2004 through 2012. For years she was an avowed atheist. “Prodigal Daughter: A Journey with Mary,” by Patricia A. Santy, MD, OP, recounts her return to the Catholic faith.

To outsiders, it seemed Santy had it all. She was a successful doctor, specializing in psychiatry. She became a flight surgeon at Johnson Space Center, on track to become an astronaut. She established a successful psychiatric practice. Later, she became a nationally-known blogger.

Her success seemed more remarkable due to an unpromising start. She was the child of divorce (when it was unusual, especially for Catholics). She financed her own way through college.

Sam Harris (author, philosopher, neuroscientist) has a fascinating conversation with Bridget about meditation, consciousness, mindfulness, and awareness. They discuss what brought Sam to meditation (drugs, initially), and the decade he spent traveling and diving into Eastern philosophy, mindfulness practices, and silent retreats, until ultimately he went back to college and eventually got a PhD in cognitive neuroscience. He and Bridget cover mediation and psychological resilience, being a hostage to your own thoughts, the search for a durable state of well being, the casualties of the spiritual path and the people who follow it, the illusion of self, and how close we are to being psychotic so much of the time.

Full transcript available here: WiW80-SamHarris-Transcript

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I’m not sure what the inspiration is for the latest student publication of Harvard Divinity Bulletin. The lead story is called “Spiritual, Sexual and Religious”, by Professor Mark D. Jordan. He has a distinctive and impressive bio: https://hds.harvard.edu/people/mark-d-jordan He gives “quite a detailed”…. history of the gay movement, and his dismay that now it’s all […]

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Richard Dawkins has a new book out, guaranteed to continue the debate going on in the western world, and even the entire world, over the value of religious belief. Some think that religious belief is essential to healthy societies and happy lives. There is also the debate over whether a particular religious claim is, in […]

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I wondered how to structure this post properly, with references, etc. but I am going to dive in off-the-cuff, because I have no reference for the information that I am learning and want to share. I obviously missed key parts of history. So I’m trying to catch up, and now current events are making more […]

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The death of a five month old fetus has made me remember why I morally approve of various forms of feticide and suicide. Recently, a pregnant lady got into physical confrontation with another woman over the infidelity of the father of her child. The non-pregnant lady took out a gun and shot the lady in […]

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On the Nature of Reality

 

It’s digital. And not fancy digital like your modern computers. Sort of like an old Atari game, where you only get one color, and life is defined by the spaces between. Only compressing it to a two dimensional screen loses so much. You’re not just looking at three dimensions, you’re looking at the angles between dimensions.

Somewhere, in a lower, unimportant corner of my consciousness I knew there existed a hospital bed. There was stuff going on there, a buncha doctor types working around it. I could understand it was important, in a theoretical sense, I just couldn’t muster up the energy to care. Never mind that it’s me down in that hospital bed; I was getting the straight dope on the nature of reality here.

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The Vatican broke with tradition this year and had a manger scene built entirely out of sand. It is reported that the sand sculpture took 720 tons of sand from a nearby town called Jesolo, a popular beach resort in Venice, for the project. I didn’t know the sinking Venice could spare any sand. The […]

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Hope on the Islam Front

 

Two little pieces of what looks to me anyway like hopeful signs: that Europe is looking to Australia’s model for how to cope with immigration, and that there may be more atheist, agnostic or otherwise apostate Muslims than we know.

From Quillette, an interview with a Pakistani-Canadian Muslim writer, Ali Rizvi. A few good quotes to give the flavor:

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The so-called “New Atheists” are desperate to demonstrate that one can have morality without God, and in fact that morality is baked in to our genetic code via the process of natural selection. Now, I’m not against the thesis that there’s an evolutionary component to morality or that natural selection isn’t a factor, but the […]

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After reading @simontemplar’s post, my hackles are up. I tried not to rend my clothes or pull my hair, but stay rational after reading in his post that George Washington University (note the name) is hosting a forum to combat “Christian Privilege.” I almost bit a hole in my lip. http://ricochet.com/508074/the-assault-on-western-civ-continues-unabated/  I’m sure this is […]

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 “Unity, the Pope insisted, is built in this walking together, and it’s a “grace” that has to be asked for. It’s for this reason that he repeats: “every form of proselytism among Christians is sinful. The Church never grows from proselytism but ‘by attraction,’ as Benedict XVI wrote.” “Proselytism among Christians, therefore, in itself, is […]

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Kevin and Sam Sorbo on “Let There Be Light”

 

Kevin Sorbo (“God’s Not Dead,” “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys”, and “Andromeda”) and his wife Sam (Actor, Director, and Producer) discuss the most anticipated Christian film of the year, the critically acclaimed “Let There Be Light”. We talk about the state of faith in American culture, mainstream culture, Fatherhood and much more.

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Nearly all Western philosophical traditions can be broken down into two camps* about the telos (one might say end) of life. There are materialist atheists who believe that humans must create their own meaning in life, and there are those that believe that man must create his own meaning. All religions, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle […]

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“He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” “Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew […]

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The Science of the Gaps

 

book-sand-smallThe tension between religion and science, at a sociological level, does not exist. There are plenty of religious scientists and scientific believers, and they do not walk around all day clutching their foreheads trying to relieve the pressure of intense cognitive dissonance. On the contrary, the obvious point that there cannot be two contradictory truths denotes an agreeable and elegant unity between the two approaches, whether one views them as a tightly intersected Venn diagram or as non-overlapping magisteria that deal with separate but equally-valid truths.

All is not as peaceful as it first appears, however. With the decline of popular religious feeling and the ascendance of popular science, many religious people have come to view the claims of religion – and indeed, everything else – in a scientific light. It is not so much that there is science and there is religion and they are both avenues to the truth(s), but rather that science is all knowledge but religion can exist comfortably as its subset, as the rational belief in the irrational or whatever.

This may sound like a crazy claim to most religious people, but I beg you to consider: In the subconscious of many a religious believer today floats the notion that one day scientific knowledge will advance to the extent that we will no longer “need” G-d to explain anything. Now, this idea can be defended theologically, and often is. Someone is always quick to declare that G-d created brains and science that we may use them. Other will chime in with the more mystical claim that G-d loves us so much he wants to set us free and never see us again, like any good modern parent, and that human history and the enlightenment is humanity’s opportunity to “move out of the house.” Even more open-minded (and my favorite) is the idea that “using” G-d as an explanation for anything in our world is to make of the deity an instrument, a terrible degradation that should embarrass any mature believer! G-d, like true art, can have no purpose!

Why Does it Matter If We Think G-d Loves Us?

 

imageThe odds of a man deciding that he will jump off a building and try to fly like Superman are much better if the man is convinced that he is, in fact, Superman. In other words, what we attempt to do — regardless of whether we succeed or get scraped off of the sidewalk — is governed by what we think we can do. Our worldview is an essential precondition for the actions we voluntarily undertake.

Our beliefs matter. Even whether or not we have beliefs matters: A person who thinks that G-d loves him and is involved in every facet of his life will act differently than a self-described rational atheist. True, an accountant in a big firm may make the same decisions whether or not he believes that G-d exists. But in other situations, a person’s beliefs can make all the difference in the world. It is the religious person who will take risks that a rational person will not: Perhaps committing to an early marriage, starting a business, or in trying to invent new things. A leap of faith requires faith.

None of this is speculation or even particularly novel: It is merely an observation of what we already know. And I think that, at least at some level, causality is equally as obvious as the correlation. People who blow themselves up to kill random strangers are often driven by a sincerely-held belief that it is the right thing to do. People who do not share those same beliefs about the virtues of suicide bombing do not become suicide bombers.