“God, in the end, gives people what they most want, including freedom from himself. What could be more fair?”
I have struggled to come up with words to memorialize my friend Christopher Hitchens. It occurs to me that were Hitch given such a task, he would quickly produce several pungent paragraphs packed with provocative ideas, erudite literary references, and razor-sharp humor – all composed in perfect sentences. Even in his last weeks of cancer progression — when, as he wrote, “more and more [was] being relentlessly subtracted from less and less” — Christopher maintained the tireless ability to deliver treasures from his own richly-stocked intellectual shop in the marketplace of ideas. He once said to me that he was more afraid of boredom than of death.
Perhaps it seems odd that a physician-scientist who has written about his own conversion to Christianity should become close friends with an avowed atheist whose book subtitle is “how religion poisons everything.”Perhaps that seems particularly strange in Washington, D.C., where even minor differences of philosophy or politics can be grounds for permanent personal animosity.
And certainly my friendship with Hitch did not begin easily. I attended a small dinner function for him after he had debated an unfailingly polite British scientist-Christian about the rationality of faith. In the debate, fueled by the ever present glass of scotch, Hitch’s one-liners had become increasingly outrageous, and he was scoring many points with the audience of university undergraduates. In the aftermath, I thought it would be interesting to engage him on what I thought to be a more serious question – whether it is possible for a strict atheist, who sees all of human behavior as a consequence of evolution, to claim any real status for the concepts of good and evil — or whether these must be considered wholly as artifacts of natural selection, of no real significance. Hitch’s response was explosive, decrying the question as utterly childish – just as a good debater would do. Let’s just say we didn’t shed further light on the matter at that time.
Consciousness makes evolutionary sense only if one does not start far enough back; if, that is to say, one fails to assume a consistent and sincere materialist position, beginning with a world without consciousness, and then considers whether there could be putative biological drivers for organisms to become conscious. This is the only valid starting point for those who look to evolution to explain consciousness, given that the history of matter has overwhelmingly been without conscious life, indeed without history. Once the viewpoint of consistent materialism is assumed, it ceases to be self-evident that it is a good thing to experience what is there, that it will make an organism better able so to position itself in the causal net as to increase the probability of replication of its genomic material. On the contrary, even setting aside the confusional states it is prone to, and the sleep it requires, consciousness seems like the worst possible evolutionary move.
Contrary to popular belief the X in Xmas, is not what it is often seen as. I have a lot of time, including my dear loved ones, assert that we really should not replace Christ in Christmas. Frankly why are we so down with a pagan holiday is beyond me but nonetheless, for those who truly love Christ and would have him the centre of their lives, this thing kind of becomes a problem. A lot of people do not even know that the tree and the Santa are not really Christian concepts, to me personally Christmas is more of a remembrance that Christ came, I hold nothing more than that, I am sure a lot of people do it for the same reasons. But we have to set the record straight.
The “X” in Xmas has been around for a long time. It’s not a replacement of Christ (although some who don’t know the history might intend it to be.) It’s the Greek letter “Chi” which looks like an X and it has been a symbol for Christ as a form of shorthand, since the earliest of Christian times.
Another example is the symbol of the Christian “Fish” Symbol.
The Greek word for fish is “Ichthys” The phrase, Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter, i.e. Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, was used probably from the very first century as a symbol for faith in Christ by Christians as a symbol because it used the first letters of that phrase and made the word Ichthys.
So next time somebody uses the phrase “Keep Christ in Christmas” as a form to shame others or to try to get people to think there’s something wrong with using the “X” instead, you can do some good and let them know the real history and maybe even let those who want to use the X to replace Christ, that that X has been a part of recognizing Christ for a long, long time!
I sometimes just don’t get people when they show honest zeal but which is nonetheless misplaced, if only most believers would study more, it would do a lot of people much good, including their selves. I wish all, the very best for the holiday season. You want to celebrate Christmas, go out help someone rather than spend money on fancy trees, just as Christ wanted us to do.
I don’t agree with David’s particular theology on all matters, but this point is definitely one I completely agree with. I think theology matters, not to Christians but to most atheists as well, when they feel they have the burden to prove Christianity wrong.
I actually had an elderly fundamentalist man once say to me, “All I need is my King James Bible and the Holy Spirit.”
When was the last time you ran into an evangelical who demeaned the study of theology? Maybe you have encountered a cynic-saint who believes that a large part of the problem with Christianity is with those who have studied formally in a bible college or seminary?
This sort of anti-intellectualism disregards the rich history of Christian thinkers, and it overlooks the deep spiritual benefits of loving Jesus with all of your mind—baptizing apathy and laziness in the name of faith.
We can’t afford to drive a wedge between the mind and the spirit. As believers in the Source of all wisdom and knowledge, we must do better.
“If we are going to be wise, spiritual people prepared to meet the crises of our age, we must be…
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The idea of the universe as a ‘giant brain’ has been proposed by scientists – and science fiction writers – for decades.
But now physicists say there may be some evidence that it’s actually true. In a sense.
According to a study published in Nature’s Scientific Reports, the universe may be growing in the same way as a giant brain – with the electrical firing between brain cells ‘mirrored’ by the shape of expanding galaxies.
The results of a computer simulation suggest that “natural growth dynamics” – the way that systems evolve – are the same for different kinds of networks – whether its the internet, the human brain or the universe as a whole.
A co-author of the study, Dmitri Krioukov from the University of California San Diego, said that while such systems appear very different, they have evolved in very similar ways.
The result, they argue, is that the universe really does grow like a brain.
The study raises profound questions about how the universe works, Krioukov said.
“For a physicist it’s an immediate signal that there is some missing understanding of how nature works,” he told Space.com.
The team’s simulation modelled the very early life of the universe, shortly after the big bang, by looking at how quantum units of space-time smaller than subatomic particles ‘networked’ with each other as the universe grew.
They found that the simulation mirrored that of other networks. Some links between similar nodes resulted in limited growth, while others acted as junctions for many different connections.
For instance, some connections are limited and similar – like a person who likes sports visiting many other sports websites – and some are major and connect to many other parts of the network, like Google and Yahoo.
No, it doesn’t quite mean that the universe is ‘thinking’ – but as has been previously pointed out online, it might just mean there’s more similarity between the very small and the very large than first appearances suggest.
Original article at here
Let me know what you think?
Over at the old blogger edition of my blog, I had a former Catholic now turned atheist leave some challenging remarks under my post that explored whether or not the Bible required women to marry their rapist.
My challenger rose to the occasion in defense of helpless women throughout history who have been the innocent victims of cruel, religious dogma found in the pages of a stone-aged book we call the Bible. I responded a little bit and he claimed he wanted to continue the discussion, but he must have gotten busy or something, because he disappeared after my last long response.
At any rate, I thought I would bring my comments I left in response to his up to the front page for others to see. They began over in the comments of the old blog, and continued over here under the new one. I’ve only slightly modified them…
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