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Atheists are genetic mutants who, for the most part, would never have been born if we hadn’t managed to break free of pre-industrial conditions of Darwinian selection. This was the conclusion of a paper published just before Christmas in the leading journal Evolutionary Psychological Science[The Mutant Says in His Heart, “There Is No God”: The... Read More
Like many Americans during the past three weeks, I've been bombarded by news about the destructive power of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida. The stories are of misery, death and destruction. The misery, death and destruction are acutely difficult to accept because they have been visited upon innocents. I say that... Read More
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Two recent controversies about the religious freedom of public and political officials have provoked similar outrage among my fellow social conservatives. I’d like to respectfully suggest that there’s a difference, and that conservatives are mistaken to equate the two. The outrage about one of the stories is absolutely justified. The hounding of British Liberal Democratic... Read More
A View from Without
In today’s irreligious and indeed anti-religious climate the fashion is to dismiss Christianity as crude superstition, and to babble wisely about the separation of church and state. This is unfortunate, and stupid, since Christianity was the heart and soul of as yet the greatest civilization the world has seen. Those who know nothing of it... Read More
Philly Jesus and Black Israelites, 2016
Philly is blessed with a generous allotment of public space at its very center. On any day of the week, weather permitting, there are throngs of people at LovePark, DillworthPark and near the Clothespin. Around this 45-foot-tall sculpture by Claes Oldenburg, I’ve seen an assortment of petty hustlers selling everything from loosies to oddball T-shirts,... Read More
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Dear friends, Christ is Risen! I have enjoyed a much needed break, but I could not fully forget about the blog and a few current events. Many of you have asked me for my reaction to the meeting between Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis but at the time I decided not to comment about it.... Read More
Religiosity is moderately heritable—25 to 45% according to twin studies (Bouchard, 2004; Lewis and Bates, 2013). These figures are of course underestimates, since any noise in the data gets classified as ‘non-genetic’ variability. So the estimates would be higher if we could measure religiosity better. But what does it mean to be religious? Does it... Read More
It's that time again. There's been another horrific high-profile mass shooting. And as usual, all the nonsense that typically circulates when that happens is circulating again. "We need more gun control!" "The problem is mental illness!" Or "it's not mental illness!" "It's racism!" Chris Harper Mercer added another layer to the matter – the fact... Read More
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Euclid Cannot Explain a Hamburger
On the Unz Review I find a piece by Razib Khan, Can a Religious Person be a Good Scientist? His answer, yes, is inarguable since, as he points out, many good scientists are religious (Newton, a Christian, by most accounts did pretty fair work.) But why should it be necessary to ask such a luminously... Read More
With the recent spate of mass shootings, (at least four high-profile incidents occurring in the U.S. and Canada in the last two weeks), the issues of guns and violence inevitably come up. Naturally, the politically correct wisdom, which is founded on the blank slate (or at least, a bare slate), wants to blame these events... Read More
Ponderous Ruminations, Maybe Tedious
The world is too much with us, late and son. Before long, it can begin to seem reasonable. I have my doubts. The usual always seems reasonable. For example, existence seems reasonable. We wake up every morning and there it is. Actually it isn’t reasonable. It’s just customary. We avoid thinking about this so as... Read More
Colin Woodard's book, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, is currently generating a lot of buzz. This is, in good part, thanks to an article that appeared in Tufts Magazine in which Woodard describes his work. Like David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America before... Read More
Introduction: The opening long decade of the 21st century (2000-2012) has been a period of repeated and profound economic and social crises, of serial and prolonged wars and declining living standards for the vast majority of Americans. How have people responded to this crisis? No large scale, long term, socio-political movements have emerged to challenge... Read More
Heaven: The Heart's Deepest Longing, by Peter Kreeft
Seeing that the first sentence in the first paragraph of the first chapter of Peter Kreeft's book Heaven: The Heart's Deepest Longing is a quote from C.S. Lewis, my suspicions were aroused right away. Kreeft hastened to confirm them, quoting Lewis again four pages further on, and again eleven pages after that, then four pages... Read More
Is groupthink genetically determined? Twin studies suggest that people are prewired to identify and comply with social rules. Where to from here? Will evolutionary psychology ossify and disappear? Or will it redefine itself and move on? In a sense it doesn’t matter. A name is just a name, and the field of evolution and human... Read More
Churchgoing for functional atheists
It's been over six years since I last attended a church service. I maintain a proper humility towards large questions about the universe and the place therein of human (or any other kind of, if there is any other kind of) self-awareness, but I am a functional atheist. It seems highly improbable to me that... Read More
Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?, by Eric Kaufmann
Did you know that Osama bin Laden has twenty-five children? And that his Dad had fifty-four? (Osama seems to be number 17.) Bin Laden Sr. was careful never to have more than four wives at a time, though, divorcing older wives in order to marry younger ones, thus staying within the proper Koranic bounds. Like... Read More
The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures, by Nicholas Wade
With this new book, New York Times science reporter Nicholas Wade positions himself as a serious challenger to Steven Pinker for the title Best Living Popularizer of the Human Sciences. Wade's 2006 book Before the Dawn was a masterly survey of current knowledge about our deep ancestry, informed by recent discoveries in genetics and archeology.... Read More
Do I mock Evangelicals?
As a child I was indoctrinated with some basic precepts regarding life among other human beings. Don't put your elbows on the dinner table. Don't speak with your mouth full. Blow your nose into a handkerchief. (I pause to notice how quaint that one seems now, when linen handkerchiefs have wellnigh vanished from the stores.... Read More
I am entirely against government bans on “cults.” Such a ban would be an instrument for public administrators trying to control undesirable social and cultural values. In all likelihood this law would be used in a discriminatory fashion, to go after politically incorrect Christians far more than to restrict orgiastic sun worshippers in Arizona or... Read More
What people ask, what I say.
Q. Are you a Christian? A. No. I take the minimal definition of a Christian to be a person who is sure that Jesus of Nazareth was divine, or part-divine, and that the Resurrection was a real event. I don't believe either of those things. Have I ever? Well, up to about three years ago... Read More
Melancholy, long withdrawing roar, etc.
Beginning this week, homosexuals in Britain can sign up for "civil partnerships," giving them most of the tax and legal benefits of marriage. Near the head of the line for this new arrangement were Sir Elton John and his boyfriend, who made a low-key ceremony out of it. My current issue (dated Dec. 3) of... Read More
Around this time of year, my American friends ask me about Guy Fawkes night. What's that all about, they want to know? Is it really a big thing over there in England? Well, I am totally out of touch, but when I was a kid, Guy Fawkes Night — November Fifth — was a huge... Read More
God's Rottweiller
Marx was wrong. Religion isn’t the “opium of the masses”. Its effects are never that benign. No, religion is a shackle clasped to the mind of man, keeping him from utilizing the one thing that lifts him above the primordial swamp of fear and superstition; his inquiring mind. The appointment of the new pope, Joseph... Read More
The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, by Sam Harris
There is a certain kind of atheist — we have all met him — who is not merely indifferent to organized religion, or puzzled by it, or scornful of it, but who is inflamed to purple rage by the contemplation of it. My own father was of this kidney. He would open conversations with perfect... Read More
Loyalty Oaths are Undemocratic
Michael Newdow deserves credit for persevering in his crusade to have the "under God" clause removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. But there's a larger question to answer before he continues. Why bother? America is securely ensconced in religion's withering grip and Newdow's case does nothing to loosen it. It's difficult to imagine that someone... Read More
God-haters storm the capital.
Did you read about the Godless Americans March onWashington being organized for this coming November? The nation's atheists, agnostics and skeptics plan to make their presence felt in the way made traditional by blacks, feminists, homosexualists and gun-hating Moms. Now, before proceeding, I should like to register a complaint about the name of this event.... Read More
Priestly celibacy.
I have been reluctant to write anything about the current travails of the American Catholic church because it's not my church. Religion is, as the U.S. constitution wisely recognizes, a private matter. To insert oneself into the internal troubles of a church you don't belong to seems impertinent — like stepping into a family feud.... Read More
In addition to being a useful prop for pushing gun control, the massacre at Littleton, Colorado’s Columbine High School, turned out to be a bottomless bonanza for other pet causes of liberalism. While grieving members of the community are planning a memorial in honor of the victims, others are busy planning how to exploit the... Read More