Archive for July 15th, 2010

Mending Fences – Part V – the Final Installment

| July 15, 2010 | 12 Replies
Mending Fences – Part V – the Final Installment

This post contains the final section (Part V) of Mending Fences, my attempt to grapple with how to handle religious differences (here is Part I of this series).

Where do we go from here?

It doesn’t take a genius to see that religion is deeply important to believers. You can see it in their eyes when a skeptic questions their tenets of “faith.” To me, that “look” is as though the skeptic is trying to tempt them to abandon the safety of a pre-modern community, which would cause them to get eaten by wolves in the forest. That’s the look I often get (or perhaps I’m projecting).

Even if the crazy things believers say aren’t true, they seem important to believers. When skeptics start to circle believers and display their skeptical questions, it seems to believers that we are tying to destroy something that is vitally important to them. Most good-hearted believers change the topic or run away. Other believers become aggressive or even violent. This puzzle some atheists, but wouldn’t you become violent if someone tried to destroy something you believed to be critically important? How, for example, would you feel if someone defaced your mother’s grave? Would you stay calm? Or would become angry? Maybe we don’t understand why believers believe their far-fetched religious stories, but certainly should be able to understand their emotional reactions when skeptics seem to take delight defacing and destroying aspects of religion that (somehow) have value for a believer.

Still, where does this bizarre stand-off leave us?

[More . . . ]

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Timothy Geithner’s Nine Lives

| July 15, 2010 | Reply
Timothy Geithner’s Nine Lives

Simon Johnson explains eight times why Tim Geithner’s should not have a job with the U.S. government, and that upon the next stumble he won’t be so lucky.

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The demise of the American middle class

| July 15, 2010 | Reply
The demise of the American middle class

These 22 statistics from Business Insider are shocking. In the aggregate they forcefully demonstrate that America’s middle class is being wiped out. They also suggest a bleak economic future where, for instance, 61% of Americans always or usually live from paycheck to paycheck, and where 43% of American workers have saved less than $10,000 for their retirement.

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Books for freethinkers

| July 15, 2010 | Reply
Books for freethinkers

The Center for Inquiry has published this list of books for freethinkers recommended by well-known freethinkers.

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Camp for skeptical children

| July 15, 2010 | Reply
Camp for skeptical children

The Center for Inquiry’s week-long camp for skeptical kids is underway, as described by this article in Huffpo. To be clear, this is not a God-bashing camp. Rather, it is a place where the campers “share is an interest in taking a reason-guided and evidence-based approach to all of life’s questions.”

Imagine sitting around the camp fire reciting this passage by Carl Sagan:

[W]hen the people have lost their ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.

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Family values

| July 15, 2010 | Reply
Family values

At Salon.com, Amy Benfer has roasted Bristol and Levi with an article beginning with this paragraph worthy of bronzing (the entire article constitutes a clinic on how to write, IMO):

She has been a (perhaps unwitting) symbol of her mother’s ultimate pro-life commitment; he cut off his mullet and agreed to wear a suit for the Republican Convention. She spent her first year postpartum making bank telling other young women not to even think of having sex; he was dubbed “Sex on Skates” by New York magazine and stripped down to his skivvies for cash. But perhaps, like the boy who pulls your pigtail on the playground, all those differences and petty squabbles were a sign of true love; according to this week’s Us Weekly magazine, it was all just a prelude to a big white Alaskan wedding: Bristol Palin, abstinence educator, and Levi Johnston, Playgirl model, have announced their (second) engagement.

I am pleased that, so far today, I have kept to my pledge to avoid discussing Sarah Palin on this site. Ooops.

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