Category Archives: Religion

Trump and Curiel

I know I’m late to the game here, but I find this ginned-up outrage over Donald Trump’s comment about Judge Curiel tremendously irritating. I would chalk it all up to mere cognitive dissonance, of the sort that is essential to maintaining a modern Leftist worldview, but it is really nothing more than another salvo in […]

False Alarm

In case you missed it: Actual Climate Scientist Judith Curry posted an item a few weeks ago linking to a forceful essay by Mario Loyola on climate-change activism. The Loyola essay is behind a paywall at The American Interest, but that publication offers non-subscribing visitors one free article a month, so you ought to be […]

Nature Vs. Nurture

Over the transom today came a link (thank you, Bill K.) to Diplomad’s latest salvo: At War with the History of Mankind. Dip makes the point that a central tenet of modern Leftist ideology (which is, as I and others have argued at length, essentially a cryptoreligious belief-system) is to make Nature sacred, and mankind […]

Low Ceiling

Our previous post — a link, with excerpts and brief commentary, to an essay by Dennis Prager on how leftism and statism step in to fill the void left by religion — seems to have left some readers puzzled. Here are some further thoughts of my own: The religious impulse, the need for sacred objects, […]

Dennis Prager on Secularism

Dennis Prager published an insightful item yesterday, entitled “A Note to Conservatives Who Are Secular”. We read: The vast majority of leading conservative writers, just like their liberal colleagues, have a secular outlook on life. With few exceptions, the conservative political and intellectual worlds are oblivious to the consequences of secularism. They are unaware of […]

Bend That Arc!

In 1968, the Fair Housing Act made it the law of the land that owners of property could not refuse to sell or rent it on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, or national origin. In 1988 the list was expanded to include family status and disabilities. Absent from this list of criteria was […]

Four Faiths

I’ve just run across a glum and deeply reactionary essay by Gregory Hood, written in November of 2014, on the spiritual exhaustion of the West, and the durable appeal of Islam. It examines four possible foundations for the future of our civilization: Christianity, paganism, techno-liberalism, and submission to Islam. Some excerpts: To most people, being […]

Our Progressive Religion

We hear a lot about “virtue-signalling” these days. The term is new, but the idea is not: its influence on American behavior is as old as the Puritan settlements of New England, from which it spread across the North, into our academic and cultural institutions, and became, in increasingly secular form, the chief feature of […]

Merciful and Mighty

There’s a good article by Mark Yuray, over at Social Matter, on making a career out of secular holiness. A longish excerpt: More than 1 million illegal Middle Eastern and African migrants entered Germany in 2015, with the invitation of the German government. This year, hundreds of thousands have already arrived and a 1-2 million […]

Live and Learn

A recent post by our friend Bill Vallicella exposes the philosophical ineptitude of militant atheists such as, in this case, Richard Dawkins. Here his target is the hidden axiom scientists (and I use the term in the sense of “those who practice scientism”) must rely on in order to deny the possible role of a […]

Confess!

We’ve written often (for example, here) about the unbroken ideological and doctrinal thread connecting the Puritanism of the Massachusetts Bay Colony with the modern, secular religion of the Left. The “mission into the wilderness” continues unabated, its outward forms unaltered. All that changes is the temporal object of the mission: the MacGuffin varies from picture […]

Many Roads. One Summit?

Over at Maverick Philosopher, Bill Vallicella has taken on the question, raised by a disciplinary action at Wheaton College, of whether Christians and Muslims worship the “same God”. I’m not a religious believer myself, but over the past decade or so the naive atheism of my earlier years has withered away to a sympathetic agnosticism, […]

Peace On WhoseTerms?

With a hat-tip to our friend Jeffery Hodges, here is a reminder that if Islam is a “religion of peace”, it is only the peace of submission, of surrender, of captivity. Related content from Sphere

The Peter Principle

A timely passage: [P]olitics and the pulpit are terms that have little agreement. No sound ought to be heard in the church but the healing voice of Christian charity. The cause of civil liberty and civil government gains as little as that of religion by this confusion of duties. Those who quit their proper character […]

Liberal Theodicy

Today I read a good piece by one of my favorite political writers, Mollie Hemingway. In the wake of the Amtrak derailment, and the Left’s immediate rush to blame the disaster on inadequate government spending (which is to say, on fiscal conservatives), she raises the concept of ‘theodicy’ — that is, “attempts to defend God’s […]

SSM At SCOTUS

The Supreme Court heard arguments today in Obergefell v. Hodges, which, as you may know, concerns itself with whether or not same-sex couples have a right to redefine what marriage is, and to compel every state to accept the new definition. Good coverage of the arguments here. Haven’t even had time to go over it […]

You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone

In middle age, after a youth of unreflective atheism, I began to have a serious interest in the role of religion in human affairs, and in the doctrine and philosophy of the great religions. I determined to educate myself, with a particular focus on the history and teachings of Christianity and Islam. I’m still an […]

Battle Lines

Last year I wrote this about liberal orthodoxy’s unavoidable antagonism to truth: A sine qua non for the modern liberal ideologue is a flair for living comfortably in a state of cognitive dissonance. This is made necessary by the internal contradictions of his worldview, and by its frequent, and calamitous, collisions with the social, political, […]

How Can This Be?

The CBS program 60 Minutes reported tonight, to everyone’s astonishment and dismay, on a recent, and heretofore completely unsuspected, scientific discovery. The context was specific — differences in the effect of the sleeping pill Ambien on men and women — but it appears, shockingly, that the scope of the problem might be far more general, […]

Casting Out The Devil

Here’s something that seems to be in the air today. Yesterday I added a comment to our Benghazi thread from a few days back. As usually happens as threads lengthen, the conversation had wandered off-topic toward the more general sort of ideological scuffling that is a constant attractor in any discussion of current events these […]

Relativize This

Here’s a a 3D zoomable panorama of the Sistine Chapel.

Whoops!

From Reuters, no less.

When In Rome

On the elevation of the new Pope, we’ve seen a lot of sulking about the Catholic Church’s inexplicable reluctance to get itself properly aligned with the Left’s social-issues agenda. It is, as Dennis Mangan points out here, perfectly understandable for socially ‘progressive’ sorts to consider the Church a political opponent, and to seek to reduce […]

Ave, Kevin!

Kevin Kim, whose academic specialty is the study of the world’s religions, has written a stupendous essay on the possibly-divine nature of Peter Sellers’s character Chance, from the movie Being There. Get thee hence and read it, here. Related content from Sphere

Chasing Rainbows

A vexing feature of modern physicalistic non-theism is that, followed to its logical conclusion, it leads to moral nihilism. (I realize that theistic attempts to put morality on an objective basis also face serious challenges, but that’s not the point tonight.) Moral nihilism being, to most folks, bad, there’s been a rash lately of books […]

Let’s Get Real

Last week the New York Times published an Op-Ed piece by Susan Jacoby called The Blessings of Atheism. In it, Ms. Jacoby attempts to rebut a colleague’s remark, apropos of Newtown, that atheism has no consolation to offer when people are suffering. I’m an atheist myself, and I think Ms. Jacoby is on a fool’s […]

In ? We Trust

I’m an admirer of the philosopher Daniel Dennett. He can be overconfidently brusque and dismissive, and in particular I have parted company with him on the issue of activist atheism (more about that in a minute), but he has an enviably fertile and wide-ranging intellect. He’s also a terrific writer; in particular I highly recommend […]

Belief In Belief

Since emerging, chastened, from the militant atheism of my not-so-distant past, I have in recent years come round, despite being an unbeliever myself, to the opinion that wide-scale secularism is a maladaptation that sharply — perhaps even lethally — reduces a society’s fitness. In a recent lecture at Washington University in St. Louis, George Will […]

Any Kids?

Here’s an attention-grabbing item: an ancient Coptic papyrus fragment referring to Jesus’s wife.

Smells Like Team Spirit

Here’s an item that should come as no surprise to anyone: Religion Is a Potent Force for Cooperation and Conflict, Research Shows The article discusses a paper by Scott Atran and Jeremy Ginges that describes religion as strongly fostering cooperation within human social groups, as a means of competing more successfully against other groups. We […]

Seriously?

Here’s an item from NightWatch‘s Robert McCreary: Iran: For the record. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei provided the following guidance in response to a question about whether it was sinful to use social media. “In general, the use of social networking websites (such as Facebook, FriendFeed, Orkut, etc) is impermissible if their use entails a corrupt […]

Sam Harris On Islam

Here’s a thoughtful new item by Sam Harris called Islam and the Future of Liberalism. A sample: As I tried to make clear [in a recent podcast], we know that intolerance within the Muslim world extends far beyond the membership of “extremist” groups. Recent events in Afghanistan demonstrate, yet again, that ordinary Afghans grow far […]

Pop Quiz

With a hat tip to hbd chick (and to reader JK as well), here’s a little test: how well do you know Sunni from Shia Islam? The British, meanwhile, are soon to be experts. Paul Weston explains. Related content from Sphere

Contra Kristof

Nicholas Kristof weighed in today on the Catholic-contraception kerfuffle, in a Times op-ed piece. Even Mr. Kristof acknowledges that this issue is hardly cut-and-dried. He writes: Look, there’s a genuine conflict here. Many religious believers were sincerely offended that Catholic institutions would have to provide coverage for health interventions that the church hierarchy opposed. That […]

Rubber Match

The Obama administration made an embarrassing political blunder recently when it mandated, with swaggering disregard of First Amendment niceties and pugnacious indifference to the moral teachings of the Roman Church, that Catholic organizations would be required to provide contraceptives to their employees. When Catholic institutions objected, they were told they had a year to get […]

Kim On Vallicella On Dennett

Our friend Kevin Kim has written a meaty response to Bill Vallicella’s latest remarks on Dennettian theoskepsis. (The study of religion is Kevin’s academic specialty; and in passing I’ll recommend his book Water From a Skull for those with an interest in the field of comparative religion.) A quibble: in this post Kevin discusses Bill’s […]

One Size Fits All?

In the discussion thread of our recent post about Yusuf al-Qaradawi and the Muslim Brotherhood, the issue soon became: what should the attitude of the West have been toward the democratic uprisings in Egypt and elsewhere? On the one hand, as Americans it seems we ought to support democracy wherever we can; on the other, […]

It Only Encourages Them

Interesting item over at Jeffery Hodges’ place: Jeff comments on an interview with the prominent Egyptian Protestant Ramez Atallah. Atallah talks about the unique centrality of Islam in Arabic-speaking lands. He also has this to say about Western indignation over the ubiquitous persecution of Christians in Muslim territory: I need you to please understand that […]

Islamism, Or Just Islam?

Over at NRO today, Andrew McCarthy and Robert Spencer debate the distinction between Islam and “Islamism”. Mr. Spencer argues that Islam is in its very essence “Islamist”: that its core doctrines, on any coherent and broadly acceptable interpretation, are normative and prescriptive not only spiritually and socially, but also legally and politically. Mr. McCarthy insists […]

Take That, Temple-Pants!

The Texan pastor Robert Jeffress caused quite a ruction last week with his endorsement of Rick Perry for the GOP nod. Mr. Jeffress said that he thought all good Christians should prefer a Christian as their president, and that in his opinion this disqualified Mitt Romney — because the “cult” of Mormonism is something other […]

For The Spirit Of The Living Creature Was In The Wheels

A conversation with my father on the subject of the Armenian mystic Gurdjieff has led me to a re-reading of Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra, which apparently G. had recommended to his study groups. (My father was a member of Gurdjieff’s London group after the war until G.’s death in 1949, and in fact went to […]

JC And QM

I’ve been reading Diarmaid MacCulloch’s outstanding history of Christianity (it’s enormously absorbing, and full of fascinating detail) and I’m currently immersed in the factional disputes of the fourth century A.D., when the biggest problem of the day was to work out a good account of the Trinity, and in particular the nature of Christ. It’s […]

We’re Good

This just in, from my old friend Dave Pauley.

Celebrity Deathmatch

This might be worth watching (I can’t say for sure, because I haven’t watched it myself yet): a debate between Sam Harris and William Lane Craig.

The Moral IS the Story

In the (rambling) discussion thread to Sunday’s post, commenter Dom gave us a quote from Niall Ferguson’s book Civilization: The West and the Rest: He quotes a scholar from the Chinese Academy of the Social Sciences “We were asked to look into what accounted for … the success, in fact, the pre-eminence of the West […]

Under New Management

The taxonomy of contemporary conservatism isn’t simple; it’s more of a bush than a tree. Nevertheless, we can point to at least one major bifurcation — at the level of phyla, one could say — and that is the split between secular and Christian conservatism. Christian conservatives, such as Pat Buchanan or Lawrence Auster, see […]

Road To Damascus

I’ve been re-reading the Koran the past few weeks. I’d previously read it only in bits and pieces, and I thought it was time I read it straight through, with truly focused attention and an open mind — and I have to say it has been, to put it mildly, an eye-opening experience. I’ve been […]

Spin

In a recent study of psychological “priming”, boffins at two universities have turned up an unsurprising result: anxiety about death can incline people more favorably toward belief in supernatural agency and purpose, in particular “intelligent design”. (The study might have been somewhat slanted, however; one of the metrics used for confidence in naturalism was “liking […]

Blowback

Lawrence Auster brings to our attention an article, published by the National Association of Scholars, about a Christian student’s experiences in the Islamic Studies department at the Hartford Seminary (which is, by the way, the oldest Islamic Studies department in America). The Seminary represents itself as a secular institution dedicated to interfaith dialogue and comparative […]

Sam Harris On The Ramparts

A while back I noted that Sam Harris has a new book out (The Moral Landscape), in which he argues that it is possible to develop an objective, entirely naturalistic science of human morality that would be not just descriptive, but prescriptive as well. From a philosophical perspective this is a hugely audacious assertion, because […]