• What religious freedom is not

    Non-Separation of Church and StateThere is a growing culture of entitlement among religious people nowadays that we should not confuse with righteousness. More and more, we see politicians or bishops claiming that secular values are antagonistic to religious freedom. But what is religious freedom and why is it important?

    In order to find out, I think it’s important to look at what it can’t be. What it can’t be, unless you have a taste for the perverse twisting of words, is religious tyranny.

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  • The Brick Bible is "vulgar and violent"

    Index Librorum ProhibitorumThat’s not me saying it, but “Sam’s Club customers”. This is a really interesting story. Brendan Powell Smith has been publishing funny little books containing “straightforward illustrations of Bible stories using direct quotes from scripture”. They are really entertaining books, of which you can get a sample on Brendan’s web site: http://www.bricktestament.com/index.html. There really couldn’t be any outrage about the contents, right? It is, after all, quotes from the “Good Book”. Well, apparently there can.

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  • Blaming the victim

    Blaming the victimA few days ago, French satirical journal Charlie Hebdo was fire-bombed. The decent part of French society condemned the terrorist attack and offered its help. Even Prime Minister François Fillon, who is politically diametrically opposed to the journal, had some nice words of support.

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  • Collaboration vs. Competition: why our Future is Open Source

    Fig. 135Two Neanderthals need a bow and some arrows. Grrmt can build a bow in 5 hours and arrows in 4 hours. Aaaargl can build a bow in 2 hours and arrows in 3 hours. Thus, in order to build what they need, Grrmt will take 5+ 4 = 9 hours, and Aaaargl will take 2 + 3 = 5  hours. 14 hours total will be spent by the both of them.

    Now what happens if our primitive friends talk to each other, specialize in what they do best, and trade? Something extraordinary. Aaaargl should have no interest doing that, as he's faster than Grrmt in everything, right? Right?

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  • That thing about contingency

    AquinasOne version of the cosmological argument relies, among other assumptions, on the following:

    Every contingent being has a cause.

    Leaving aside the necessity of defining what we mean by "cause", and of explaining how such an inductive statement could reasonably apply to a unique object such as the universe, I want to focus in this post on the concept of contingency.

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  • Metaphorical? But why?

    Dürer: the fall of manMost modern believers interpret their sacred texts as mostly metaphorical. Only the most hard-core fundamentalists maintain that Genesis for example is an accurate historical account of the origin of Humanity.

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  • Can God appear in a puff of logic?

    Saint AnselmLogic is a tricky thing. Any sound argument must rely on it, but it is easy to build seemingly sound and logical arguments that are still wrong or fail to apply to the real world. Fuzzy or wrong premises, shortcuts in reasoning, as well as plain fallacies such as circular reasoning, are easy to obfuscate, and apologists are kings at this game. It's what they do: take the conclusion they want to reach, and then build the rationalization for it. A prime example of this is the age-old ontological argument for the existence of God, that I will be looking at in details in this post.

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  • Extreme close-up!

    Sir Isaac NewtonMacro lenses are expensive. There is a cheap alternative, though, that can transform a regular lens into a macro lens: extension tubes. Extension tubes are simply hollow tubes that you put between the lens and the body of the camera. Optically inert, they shorten the focal distance and depth of field and bump up magnification, at the price of a loss of light.

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    Tags: Photography

    Monday, June 20, 2011 7:47:25 PM
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