Archive for October 2009

Nina Power on the Inspiration of Postmodernism *

Oct 26th, 2009 | Filed by

So what can be salvaged from this weather-beaten set of ideas? As it turns out, quite a lot.… Read the rest

Martha Nussbaum on Same-sex Marriage *

Oct 26th, 2009 | Filed by

There is something odd about the mixture of casualness and solemnity with which the state behaves as a marrying agent.… Read the rest

Michael Ruse on The Greatest Show on Earth *

Oct 26th, 2009 | Filed by

The eye is magnificent – we can read this wonderful book.… Read the rest

James Wood on A S Byatt *

Oct 26th, 2009 | Filed by

The author dances, with leaden slippers, around the thought-sleep of her characters.… Read the rest

Stephen Law on 50 Voices of Disbelief *

Oct 26th, 2009 | Filed by

Even better than he was expecting; a great read.… Read the rest

Don’t believe everything you’re told

Oct 26th, 2009 11:37 am | By

I’ve been tactfully silent about Chris Mooney lately, but I have to murmur a few words about stories and anonymity and credulity and skepticism and how we know what to believe and what not to believe and how necessary it is to pay attention to the difference between the two.

The background is a post a few days ago quoting an anonymous commenter at The Intersection saying

Many of my colleagues are fans of Dawkins, PZ, and their ilk and make a point AT CONSERVATION EVENTS to mock the religious to their face, shout forced laughter at them, and call them “stupid,” “ignorant” and the like – and these are events hosted by religious moderates where we’ve been ASKED to

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Don’t forget the supermarket

Oct 26th, 2009 10:32 am | By

I’ve had my disagreements with Steven Poole, but his review of three pop-philosophy books is really funny.

I put my theory of the dentist’s waiting room – at once social microcosm and place of interminable transition – to an attractive young woman beside me who was holding the side of her face and wincing. When she did not reply, I embarked upon a lecture on stoicism. The woman scowled and told me to piss off. She was quite ordinary after all.

It’s all worthwhile, because once armed with suitable wisdom, ‘one may face down absurdity and the inevitability of death in all those locations that irresistibly evoke them, such as airports, dentists’ waiting rooms, gyms, dog kennels, and hot-air … Read the rest

Simon Singh on Censorship by Libel Threat *

Oct 25th, 2009 | Filed by

Even academic journals receive libel threats. Even academics being interviewed have to fear libel. … Read the rest

Catholic Church a Force for Good, Yes or No *

Oct 25th, 2009 | Filed by

Hitchens and Fry v Widdecombe and Archbishop Onaiyekan. It was a rout.… Read the rest

Business as Usual for Vatican Enterprises Inc. *

Oct 25th, 2009 | Filed by

The Catholic Church is a giant multinational corporation, differing from rivals only in not paying taxes. … Read the rest

Ending the Silence on ‘Honour’ Killing *

Oct 25th, 2009 | Filed by

‘Sharia courts are letting Muslim women down and the British government is turning a blind eye.’… Read the rest

The Speech Cops Knock on the Door *

Oct 25th, 2009 | Filed by

Citizen writes to council complaining about gay pride march, council tells police about ‘hate incident.’… Read the rest

Come on in, the sharks are friendly

Oct 24th, 2009 5:33 pm | By

Mary Wakefield assures the nervous frightened Anglicans who can’t stand the thought of female bishops but aren’t quite sure about this Catholic church thingy either even though it does do an admirable job of keeping women in their place – Mary Wakefield assures them, I say, that the only thing they have to fear is fear itself. That, and the sharks, of course.

Well, come on in, I say. The water’s warm. I converted two years ago now, full of cowardly fear about what people might think, and to my surprise, I haven’t regretted it since. But though the water is warm, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few sharks around.

Ah. There are sharks around, but … Read the rest

Have ‘Atheist Fundamentalists’ Seized CFI? *

Oct 24th, 2009 | Filed by

Or is the claim just more name-calling and othering?… Read the rest

Come on Over, Catholicism is Swell! *

Oct 24th, 2009 | Filed by

‘Yes, the church’s history is bloody and corrupt, but so is England’s.’ Just watch out for the sharks.… Read the rest

Blackford on Pigliucci on Skeptical Inquiry *

Oct 24th, 2009 | Filed by

Scientists are entitled to reject claims that are presented as mere ad hoc manoeuvres to avoid falsification.… Read the rest

M Pigliucci on the Scope of Skeptical Inquiry *

Oct 24th, 2009 | Filed by

A scientific argument for atheism is outside the epistemological boundaries of science and a disservice to intellectual inquiry.… Read the rest

Is Atheism Science or Philosophy? *

Oct 24th, 2009 | Filed by

If there were a giant reptile in Loch Ness, it ought to be possible to find it.… Read the rest

Homo novoatheiensis

Oct 23rd, 2009 8:51 pm | By

Karen Armstrong is awfully bossy for someone who talks so much about compassion.

Homo sapiens is also Homo religiosus. As soon as we became recognizably human, men and women started to create religions. We are meaning-seeking creatures. While dogs, as far as we know, do not worry about the canine condition or agonize about their mortality, humans fall very easily into despair if we don’t find some significance in our lives. Theological ideas come and go, but the quest for meaning continues. So God isn’t going anywhere. And when we treat religion as something to be derided, dismissed, or destroyed, we risk amplifying its worst faults. Whether we like it or not, God is here to stay, and it’s time

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Madeleine Bunting Discovers Political Philosophy *

Oct 23rd, 2009 | Filed by

‘We need to be looking to political philosophy. I’m as hazy on the subject as the next person…’… Read the rest