Links and Comments: Steven Weinberg; Trek vs Wars; How the world is getting better; Undermining the Bible

Here’s a archival essay by Steven Weinberg, whose new book I just reviewed in previous post: A Designer Universe?. This is the essay in which Weinberg wrote this oft-quoted passage (though usually only its final line, here bolded):

Where religion did make a difference, it was more in support of slavery than in opposition to it. Arguments from scripture were used in Parliament to defend the slave trade. Frederick Douglass told in his Narrative how his condition as a slave became worse when his master underwent a religious conversion that allowed him to justify slavery as the punishment of the children of Ham. Mark Twain described his mother as a genuinely good person, whose soft heart pitied even Satan, but who had no doubt about the legitimacy of slavery, because in years of living in antebellum Missouri she had never heard any sermon opposing slavery, but only countless sermons preaching that slavery was God’s will. With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion.


Slate has a nice summary of the virtues of Star Trek vs. Star Wars, though the writer especially likes one of the later ST series that I never watched more than an episode or two of: Deep Space Nine. Perhaps it’s not too late to catch up.


Vox: The world is getting better all the time, in 11 maps and charts.

Journalism doesn’t have a liberal bias so much as it has a bias to the extraordinary, as I’ve mentioned here: if there were only one murder in the entire world on a given day, that would be the lead news on all the news sites, perpetuating the idea that there is violence in the world.


And the on general theme of stepping back .. stepping back … from one’s cultural assumptions, taking a look at those cultural assumptions as if one had not grown up with them, seeing them in an objective view: well,

Southern God is a Terrible Writer.

About how if the Bible were really the word of God, it should have been so much better, on ten points. Among them: it would be consistent; it would have *specific, verifiable prophecies*; it would contain knowledge that humans of the era in which the Bible was written couldn’t possibly have known; and — this is a point I haven’t seen suggested before — it would “have beautiful, heart-rending poetry and stories” to outmatch any human author. Which it clearly does not. The author provides examples.

If you’re a Christian, I don’t expect this post to change your mind. When a belief gets drilled into your head everyday for years, it can take years to get it out again. But can you at least have a little sympathy for us atheists? Can you see how the Bible seems like nothing more than a collection of writings by religious fanatics? You have no trouble dismissing the Koran or the Vedas or the Book of Shadows, and rightly so. But it is for the same reasons that we dismiss the Bible.


All of these items will be categorized into my philosophical scheme…eventually.

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