Archives for October, 2011

The Pope Invites Agnostics to Assisi

The National Catholic Register has the full text of a recent speech given by Pope Benedict XVI. It includes this: In addition to the two phenomena of religion and anti-religion, a further basic orientation is found in the growing world of agnosticism: people to whom the gift of faith has not been given, but who…

Unintelligent Design and Eternal Life

Writing at the Huffington Post, John Blumenthal offers a humorous take on intelligent design: Thanks to Michele Bachmann, the tired concept of Intelligent Design has once again become a topic of conversation among Creationists, most of whom, ironically, often sound like Neanderthals. In case you don’t know, this boneheaded theory claims that the human body…

Today we continue our series about great short stories. (Click here for Part One.) For several decades Fredric Brown was a prolific author of mysteries and science fiction, producing most of his work in the 1940′s and 50′s. I could have chosen several of his works for inclusion in this series. “Arena” s perhaps his…

Sorry for the disappearing act. It seems like every time I work up a good head of blog steam, something happens to knock me off track. This term is turning out to be unusually busy. But I did want to poke my head up to take note of this recent essay, at HuffPo, by John…

Herman Cain’s Pseudomathematics

Here’s Herman Cain, from an interview with Chris Wallace: Here is how we arrived at it. I had some of the best economists in this country help me to develop this plan. You know, my background is mathematics. It was a simple regression analysis. We took the government data and looked at how much tax…

Another Reason to Like Star Trek

My new issue of Answers Update, the monthly newsletter of Answers in Genesis, turned up in the mail today. It’s a twenty-four page magazine, more than half of which contains advertisements for their various products. But there is also a lead article on the cover, written by Ken Ham himself. Here’s the opening: I’m sure…

Interpretations of Probability

Here’s Timothy Gowers, a Fields Medalist, from his book Mathematics: A Very Short Intorduction: However, there certainly are philosophers who take seriously the question of whether numbers exist, and this distinguishes them from mathematicians, who either find it obvious that numbers exist or do not understand what is being asked. Everyone knows there is friction…

This is the first in what will be an occasional series about some of my favorite short stories. These are the sorts of stories that remind me of what I aspire to as a writer. They are the ones I enjoy partly for their engaging plot lines, and partly for the skillfulness of the writing…

An Interesting Take on New Atheism

The latest issue of Free Inquiry magazine turned up in the mail this week. Lots of interesting material, as always. One article that caught my eye was “Building on a Religious Background,” by C. L. Hanson. Hanson grew up as a Mormon, but is now an atheist. She currently lives in Switzerland and has a…

Who Gets to Define Christianity?

The brou ha ha over original sin continues apace. Andres Sullivan has replied to Jerry Coyne. It’s a very bad post, arrogant but contentless. Jerry has already delivered the well-deserved spanking. Sullivan uncorks nuggets like this: I would argue that original sin is a mystery that makes sense of our species’ predicament – not a…

Original Sin, Again

The big original sin debate goes on. Ross Douthat has weighed in, as has Andrew Sullivan in this post. Both gentleman go after Jerry Coyne. Jerry has already stolen some of my thunder by replying himself (here and here.) He’s a much more efficient blogger than I am. Still, I’ll throw in my two cents.…