Tag: Religion

Group Writing: Seriously?!

 

Would you be my partner in this project?

 Those were the words that @iwe expressed in an email he sent to me almost three years ago, inviting me to co-write a book about Judaism. To say I was shocked, thrilled, and terrified at the prospect of working on this kind of project would be an understatement. In all fairness to you, the reader, I have to give you some background.

Several years ago, I decided to completely leave Zen Buddhism, which I had practiced for 20 years. I’d remained a Jew, but had never been religious, and never felt a strong affinity for my faith. Ironically, the more I meditated within the Zen framework, the more I felt a deep connection with G-d. (Zen doesn’t address G-d in its practice.)

A Critique of Stephen Meyer’s ‘Return of the God Hypothesis’

 

I have struggled with writing a review of Stephen Meyer’s book, Return of the God Hypothesis, since I finished it a few weeks ago. Every time I pick it up to reread portions of it I find myself wanting to approach the work from a different perspective. The book is neither a straight popularization of science nor an attempt to frame a clear scientific argument. Rather, it’s a well-crafted work of reporting and speculation at the frothy margins of scientific theory that, combined with a few leaps of logic, is harnessed in support of a foreordained conclusion.

I suspect that the science in this book – and there’s quite a lot of it – will, despite being well-presented by an eloquent and talented author, largely elude most readers. Perhaps more importantly, the context from which the science is drawn will likely be unfamiliar to most readers, who will have little familiarity with physics and cosmology beyond what is presented in this book. If this book were merely a popularization of the science of cosmology, that would be fine: people would gain a feel for the state of the field, for its complexity and nuance, and for the remarkable accomplishments that have been made in recent years. But that’s not what this book is. Rather, it’s an attempt to support a metaphysical argument by portraying science as inadequate both in practice and in principle, and so leave no plausible alternative but the eponymous God Hypothesis. To frame that argument responsibly would require considerably more scope and rigor than this already science-heavy book offers. To do it convincingly, on the other hand, requires much less effort, particularly if the reader is inclined to be generous and knows little of physics.

It has been said of Stephen Hawking’s bestselling book A Brief History of Time that it was purchased by many and read by few. I suspect the same is likely true of Return of the God Hypothesis: for many, it will be a tough read. Yet it is an impressive book, and it has lent a great deal of talk-circuit credibility to its author and his premise. The fact that Mr. Meyer is an eloquent speaker and a clever and charming guest undoubtedly adds to that credibility, and it’s understandable why he and his book have received as much praise as they have. Nonetheless, as I will attempt to explain in this review, I think his arguments are weak and his conclusions unsupported.

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Simon Kuper, writing in the UK publication Financial Times, had an article the other day with the title “Why the US is becoming more European”…a rather smug article, in my view.  He asserts that for decades, influential Americans looking at other countries used to ask “When will they become more like us?”…and argues that this […]

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Pew Forum Survey of India: Religion in India, Tolerance and Segregation

 

Pew conducted what seems like an exhaustive survey of India.  They:

Surveyed 29,999 Indian adults (including 22,975 who identify as Hindu, 3,336 who identify as Muslim, 1,782 who identify as Sikh, 1,011 who identify as Christian, 719 who identify as Buddhist, 109 who identify as Jain and 67 who identify as belonging to another religion or as religiously unaffiliated). Interviews for this nationally representative survey were conducted face-to-face under the direction of RTI International from Nov. 17, 2019, to March 23, 2020.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard Robinson and guest co-host Kerry McDonald talk with Naomi Schaefer Riley, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of several books, including Be the Parent, Please. They discuss findings from her book on how excessive technology use negatively impacts children’s intellectual, social, and moral development – which was even more of a challenge with the wide usage of remote learning during COVID-19. The conversation turns to Riley’s extensive commentary on the relationship between religion and education in American society, and lessons K-12 education policymakers should learn from higher education’s handling of faith on campus. She delves into why religion and church-state issues remain such a stark fault line across American K-12 education. They also talk about the development of anti-intellectual efforts on college campuses, and in the larger society, to use speech codes, political correctness, wokeness, and now cancel culture to shut down the free exchange of ideas, and why such campaigns to undermine the fundamentals of democracy persist.

Stories of the Week: EducationWeek reports that over 1.3 million American students did not return to school this year due to the pandemic-related closures. School districts are scrambling to lure them back, but will it work? Juneteenth, which honors the 1865 ending of slavery in this country, has officially become a U.S. federal holiday.

Selecting Customers

 

One reason American culture is in such a sorry state today is because the customer is always right.

I have explained on Ricochet before why this aphorism is actually a bad business model. It encourages misbehavior among customers and thereby increases expenses (in turn, increasing prices) while making both customers and employees miserable.

Jim Geraghty is Joined by Radio America’s Rich McFadden for today’s martinis. The Good: As consensus among public health authorities has declined, PolitiFact issues a correction to their “PANTS ON FIRE” rating regarding the claim that the “the coronavirus was derived from a lab.”

The Bad: Some straight-up Jew-targeting violence on the streets of LA and NYC. As Noam Blum observes, once you’re attacking people and throwing firecrackers at people, you’re not really a “protester” anymore.

Ayaan talks with Michael Shermer about his journey in and out of religion, the ten commandments of freedom of speech, and the concept of moral politics.

Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine, the host of The Michael Shermer Show, and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University where he teaches Skepticism 101.

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On today’s Ricochet podcast, Peter and James interview guests Niall Ferguson and Stephen Meyer. I’d like to spend a few minutes discussing Mr. Meyer and the idea he puts forth in his latest book, Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Scientific Discoveries that Reveal the Mind Behind the Universe. I recently wrote about an Uncommon […]

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Ayaan speaks with Dave Rubin about the future of liberalism. Can it be saved and if so, how? They discuss faith, religion, and the pseudo-religion of wokeism. Plus, they explore whether or not we still have a free press.

Dave Rubin is an author, comedian, and TV personality best known for his political commentary. He is the host of The Rubin Report, a top-ranking talk show recognized as one of the most influential spaces for candid conversations about complex issues and current events. Dave is known for his iconoclastic and honest approach to big ideas and his unwavering support for free speech.

The Equality Act Will Guarantee Inequality for Almost Everyone

 

‘Every American deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. With today’s vote, the House has again affirmed that LGBTQ people should enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as all other Americans,’ said Democratic Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who led the push for the bill.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? The truth is that every American does not deserve to be treated with respect and dignity; rapists, murderers, illegal immigrants, and many Leftists have not earned respectful treatment, for starters. And the Equality Act H.R.5, which was passed by the House 224 to 206 votes on February 25, is not only deceptive but opens the door to abuses of the rights of most Americans.

The Equality Act, no matter what it says, is not intended to make sure that everyone has equal rights. Specifically, it would very likely show favoritism toward LBGT groups, and discrimination against religious groups, girls and women, businesses, medical professionals, and others. The Heritage Foundation describes the bill in this way:

Psst, Consumer, Wanna Buy Your AlieNation?

 

Like many Americans right of center, the ads I see online feature plenty of vaguely patriotic products. Some of the stuff’s campaign gear. Some of it’s randomly tacti-cool. (Already got a tactical pen? Have you tried our tactical toothbrush yet? Got the toothbrush already, have you? What about a tactical toothpick?) Perhaps because my browsing habits are eclectic, the ads “targeting” me are eclectic, too. According to my ads, I’m a Trump-voting, militantly pro-life charismatic sedevacantist Catholic wiccan secular humanist who’s also militantly pro-choice and pining for the deceased Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I’m deaf, too. Because of earwax. But at least I’m not alone in that: judging by consumer ad complaints, the main symptom of Covid-19 is massive earwax buildup.

People who say they know about these things say that Covid’s virtual earwax buildup is a symptom of declining click-throughs on online ads. The more time we spend online without clicking through on ads, the more “bottom feeder” ads we see. Maybe I am who I am to online marketers because I don’t click through. Therefore I must “want”, in no particular order, Osteen Cubes, <insert name of Biblical woman here> Anointings, conversational Medieval Latin kits, “homeopathic” essential-oil blends consecrated to Jesus or my choice of goddess. Little lapel pins featuring lab flasks bubbling vacuities like “Science is real!” or light-splitting prisms spelling out “I’m gay for science!” in rainbow writing.

Rapid-fire lapel pin advertising directed my way, whether from right or left, never hits its target, since even if I saw a pin I liked, I wouldn’t buy it. If I saw an ad for a lapel pin featuring the smexxxiest anthropomorphized doped garnet laser — adorned with real synthetic garnet chips reading “She blinded me with science!” — well, I’d chuckle. But I wouldn’t click.

Join Jim and Greg for a very lively Friday podcast! First, they cheer the Supreme Court for telling the 9th Circuit to reconsider a case where churches face tighter restrictions than non-religious gatherings. They also hammer Los Angeles and California as their COVID restrictions even forbid “unnecessary walking” and effectively make people prisoners in their own homes. And they react to Joe Biden’s confusing comments about what would happen if he and Kamala Harris ever have a major disagreement over principle.

Quote of the Day: It’s Not Just About Politics

 

The article in the New York Times, like its companion piece in the Washington Post, is one long dog whistle. Its warning is not about Judge Barrett herself, who will fold into the life of the Supreme Court, but the possibility that others who share or are attracted to her active religiosity might be rising out there in the country to pose a threat to the secular dominance of America’s cultural mores that began some 60 years ago.

The new counter-belief system back then argued that shared community values grounded in religious belief—or virtue of the sort evident in the Barrett family—imposes unnecessary constraints on personal or private behavior.

Why this tension should have divided eventually into liberal versus conservative isn’t immediately obvious. There still are many liberal traditionalists. But it did. So now the possible appearance of a “conservative Christianity” needs to be delegitimized, or canceled, before it spreads. Perhaps it is a sign of the dominant culture’s lack of confidence in the durability of its own value system that its main tool of opposition isn’t argument but suppression and condescension.  — Daniel Henninger

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I’ve become really hesitant to make any long-term plans, pay the bills too far ahead, or feel hopeful about one day leaving my home without risking the rise of resentment in my gut as I look at what our piece-of-garbage governor has done, and continues to do, to what was once a beautiful state. I’ll […]

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Not-The-Good-News Network?

 

Today (August 12, 2020) I must confess a frisson of irritation with my Morning Jolt of Good News, a daily email I receive from the Good News Network to cheer me up, as I contemplate the other daily bulletins and botherations of life in this twenty-first century. (High among those botherations at the moment are the endless customer satisfaction surveys I’m being badgered to complete, all of which ask me to please rate the vendor involved as having “exceeded expectations” or as a “10,” and to answer an enthusiastic “YES!” to all questions as to whether or not my sales representative met my needs and discussed everything from the price of tea in China to the right way up to plant tulip bulbs in the Fall. At this particular moment: Nissan wants to know if they met my needs when they sold me my new Rogue Sport (love it BTW); the crematorium which took care of Mr. She at the end wants to know if I am satisfied with their efforts on his behalf (umm…argh); Allstate wants to know if I’m delighted with the expeditiousness with which they removed his name from the policy and wrote me a new one; Target wants to know if I’m happy with the velveteen coat hangers I bought a couple of weeks ago (not-so-much since I saw exactly the same things at Sam’s Club the other day for about one-third the price); and Staples (Staples!) would like to hear what I have to say about Avery Removable Inkjet File Folder Labels, 2/3″ x 3 7/16″, White, 30 Labels to a page. I met with my financial advisor this afternoon and told him I really hoped that PNC wouldn’t start harassing me in similar fashion about my conversation with him–he, rather shamefacedly, admitted that they probably would.)

And those are the ones that spring to mind off the top of my head. I’m sure there are plenty more.

So, this morning, I was ready for my Morning Jolt of Good News. And I thought I’d found it here.

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This Tuesday, June 23, 2020, Joe Biden held a virtual fundraiser which featured former President Barack Obama. The event included a discussion or conversation between Biden and Obama and, in that conversation, Obama made an assertion that stunned me. Let me post a video which includes the assertion in question. The video is about 2 […]

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I recently called for the White House to show they believe that all black lives matter, using the beginning of week press briefing among other venues. That is exactly how Kayleigh McEnany started out this Monday’s press briefing. This theme was also highlighted by a young black woman speaking at President Trump’s invitation in Phoenix […]

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