Intelligent design: In conversation with Derren Brown


Psychological illusionist Derren Brown talks to the OU’s Nigel Warburton about how personal experiences can be misleading and how people attribute design to objects in the natural world

Philosophy and the human situation: http://www3.open.ac.uk/study/undergra…

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Um, what’s a libertarian?


Recently a friend of mine, a real asshole, told me that he’s not a “republican,” he’s more of a “libertarian.”

I imagine he said this, because the American political system is rife with people who are abandoning their parties left and right. If you’re a democrat, who wants to be associated with Reid, Pelosi or Obama? If you’re Republican, who wants to be associated with … well, where do I start?

Or maybe my friend said this, because he’s addicted to cocaine, and he wants it legalized like a good libertarian. I mean, he’s a high-strung, Washington D.C. lawyer who drives a Porsche and plays golf a few times a week. He snorts a line or two to keep his edge sharp, his mind steady and his teeth grinding.

So when this douchebag told me he considers himself more libertarian, it was as if he was choosing a political position that seemed less offensive than admitting he’s a republican.

Hell, check out the movement of Christians to say they aren’t Christians now. The word “Christian” has developed into a pejorative. What, with all the bad public relations it’s gotten for 2,000 years. The trend lately is to say, “I’m not a Christian … I’m a Christ follower.” They’ll even explain what that means.

Sweet, luscious ignorance! Don’t they know that the word “Christian” literally means “follower of Christ.”

Idiots.

Anyway, I thought that this quick explanation provided on NPR yesterday was a great primer on what Libertarianism is. Among their views:

Adult individuals have the right and the responsibility to make the important decisions about their own lives. And our government, today, interferes with that right in a whole variety of ways. It tells us where to send our kids to school, how we have to save for retirement. It tells us what we can smoke and who we can marry.

Well, yeah, it’s mostly Democrats who want to raise our taxes and tell us how to save for retirement and how to give to charity. But it’s mostly Republicans that tell us what we can smoke and who we can marry. So, there are ways that both liberals and conservatives interfere with individual freedom and the pursuit of happiness.

As for my “libertarian” friend who snorts coke speeding down Pennsylvania Avenue rocking out to the one song on the album that the media told him to like, I hope he actually took time to learn about the party he thinks he associates himself with.

Bishop Eddie L. Long reads a different bible than the one I read


From NYT:

His lavish display of wealth is in keeping with his theology. In his sermons, he often tells his congregation that God wants them to be wealthy and asserts that Jesus was not a poor man. By all accounts, he has been well compensated for his leadership in building New Birth from a church with a few hundred members into the largest congregation in Georgia. His televised sermons reach 170 countries.

In 2005, for instance, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published tax records showing that from 1997 to 2000 Bishop Long had accepted $3 million in salary, housing, a car and other perks from a charity he controlled.

“We’re not just a church, we’re an international corporation,” he told the newspaper in justifying his compensation. “We’re not just a bumbling bunch of preachers who can’t talk and all we’re doing is baptizing babies. I deal with the White House. I deal with Tony Blair. I deal with presidents around this world. I pastor a multimillion-dollar congregation.”

CNN, NYT: Basic Religion Test Stumps Many Americans


Of course CNN and the New York Times are going to report that non-believers score higher on basic religion knowledge than believers … they’re soooo biased. Left-wingers say the darndest things.

The NYT wrote:

Americans are by all measures a deeply religious people, but they are also deeply ignorant about religion.

Researchers from the independent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life phoned more than 3,400 Americans and asked them 32 questions about the Bible, Christianity and other world religions, famous religious figures and the constitutional principles governing religion in public life.

On average, people who took the survey answered half the questions incorrectly, and many flubbed even questions about their own faith.

The boring and best part of the article comes from this finding here:

Those who scored the highest were atheists and agnostics, as well as two religious minorities: Jews and Mormons. The results were the same even after the researchers controlled for factors like age and racial differences.

Regular LCW reader Xina (Thanks!) hooked me up with this CNN blog post this morning, which said:

The single strongest factor predicting how well a person does on the religious knowledge quiz is education – the more years of schooling a person has, the more they are likely to know about religion, regardless of how religious they consider themselves to be, Pew found.

“The No. 1 predictor without question is simply educational attainment,” Smith said.

The think tank also asked a handful of general knowledge questions – such as who wrote “Moby-Dick” and who’s the vice president of the United States – and found a link between religious knowledge and general knowledge.

It’s been shown in other sources that non-religious people often know more about religion than believers. I know many believers who know a lot about their own faith, but tend to show very limited knowledge of other belief systems.

I retired faith, because of two main reasons: I learned about the history or Christianity and other religions and I read and thought about the bible’s message.

What do you know about the history of the religion you were taught? How much time do you devote to learning about it from sources apart from the pulpit?

From the articles I posted above, you can take 10 questions of the test. They’re kind of softball questions, I think. I wish they’d publish the entire test so we could have a little test around here.

***UPDATE***

Regular reader and neuroscientist Luis V pointed out in the comments that the entire quiz is here. Although it appears the entire world is taking the quiz, so it’s slow as evolution (honk).

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