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Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Taoist Lessons for Politicians

Those who look down upon this world, will surely take hold and try to change things. So begins verse 29 of the 4th century BCE Chinese classic (Jonathan Star translation*), the Tao Te Ching. That verse suggests that those who feel themselves superior to the world and to others, who feel their actions, thoughts, views and beliefs are above […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Happiness & Fulfillment

There are ten methods for meditating on the world, begins one scroll in the 1,300-year-old collection of Tang-dynasty sutras from Xian, China, that can lead us to happiness and fulfillment. I realize that sounds like the opening of a New Age piffle book, but the sutras were actually discovered in a cave near a Buddhist […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: A Compassionate Buddha?

There’s a story in Valerie Roebuck’s translation of the Dhammapada (Penguin Classics, 2010, commentary on verse 6, p 115-116) that caught my eye recently, and it made me wonder what the moral or ethical precept was buried in it. And it makes me question what it says about the supposed compassion of the Buddha and […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Reading the Dhammapada

One of the most inspirational, moving books in my library is the Dhammapada, a collection of sayings of the Buddha, originally from the Pali canon. I’ve had a version of the Dhammapada in my library since the late 1960s, and read it through many times. It’s good to reread it often. My first copy I […]

350 or bust: Pope Francis: If We Destroy Creation, It Will Destroy Us

Pope Francis made the biblical case for tackling climate change on Wednesday, calling on Christians to become “Custodians of Creation” and issuing a dire warning about the potentially catastrophic effects of global climate change. Speaking to a massive crowd in Rome, the Pope delivered a short address in which he argued that respect for the […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: American belief in evolution is growing: poll

A new Harris poll released this month shows that Americans apparently are losing their belief in miracles and gaining it in science. The recent poll showed that American belief in evolution had risen to 47% from its previous poll level of 42%, in 2005. True, it’s not an overwhelming increase, and it’s still less than half […]

Politics and its Discontents: Another Refreshing Perspective From Pope Francis

I am finding more and more to like about the new Pope everyday. I am certain his distinction between faith and ideology will enrage some on the right – that is, if they even listen to anyone anymore.

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Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Moral Compass

I have a laminated card beside me, wallet-sized so it can be carried around easily. I made it at my shop a few years ago; just a simple, two-sided business card with some text. It’s part of my personal moral compass. We all benefit from some guidance, at times, something to remind us of the higher […]

350 or bust: Why We Do What We Do

It’s TED Talk Tuesday, and today’s video is Rev. Michael Dowd’s 2012 TEDx Talk which reexamines faith traditions and what science is now revealing about human nature and instincts: The world’s faith traditions offer conflicting beliefs about our inner and outer nature, and our challenges. Fortunately, a knowledge-based view of reality is emerging, which is […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: What’s it all about, Alfie?

“What’s it all about, Alfie?” sings Cilla Black in the title song for the eponymous 1966 movie. But it could be the anthem for the human race, or at least those with a philosophical bent. “What’s it all about?” is certainly a question that springs to my mind daily as I listen to the news, […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Hell 2.3

Before I carry on with my exploration of Miriam Van Scott’s Encyclopedia of Hell, I wanted to note that I just got my copy of her other book – the Encyclopedia of Heaven, from Abebooks. It’s dated 1999, so it’s a year later than her book on Hell. Yet it has many related topics – […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Hell 2.2

Might be time to recap my reasons for writing this series. New readers could get confused about the content in the Hell posts, of which this is the fourth. They’re all the result of a convergence of several recent themes and activities in my life; a lot of which have to do with recent reading [...]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Hell 2.1, a small update

I left you in my exploration of the Encyclopedia of Hell pondering which version of the Faustus story was better: with or without his final redemption. Personally, I prefer without, because it offers greater dramatic opportunities. I also don’t like the notion of redemption: it seems like a “get out of Hell free” card. Christianity [...]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Hell 2.0

I left you last time after finishing the letter D, in Miriam Van Scott’s Encyclopedia of Hell. I’m back in book form to take you through a few more entries in her exploration of the afterlife. But first a couple of additions to your reading material. First on the list is Alice Turner’s 275-page The [...]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: What in Hell…?

Hades, you know, isn’t a place. It’s a guy. The Greek god of the underworld. His territory consists of a bunch of domains, including the rather unpleasant Tartarus, where souls – called shades – suffer eternal punishment. Hades wasn’t a fun god. If you weren’t getting your skin ripped off in Tartarus, life sucked in [...]

Chadwick's Blog & Commentary: Believing is Seeing

“He who permits himself to tell a lie once,” wrote Thomas Jefferson (in a letter to his nephew, Peter Carr, from Paris, France, 1785), “finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it … Continue reading →

Chadwick's Blog & Commentary: Review: The Life of Pi

We watched Life of Pi last night, a film that has garnered much critical acclaim and won four coveted Oscar awards (although it has not been without controversies). I had struggled somewhat with the book (for reasons given below), but … Continue reading →

Chadwick's Blog & Commentary: What if you’re wrong?

Great visualization of the now-famous response from evolutionary biologist, author, and well-known atheist, Richard Dawkins, when asked in 2006 about his argument that there is no god, “What if you’re wrong?” “Anybody could be wrong, ” he replies. “We could all be … Continue reading →

Chadwick's Blog & Commentary: Religion, Logic, and Tornadoes

What has a tornado in common with prayer in schools and US President Barack Obama? Rhonda Crosswhite. Yes, the Oklahoma teacher praised as a hero for saving several children when a massive tornado ripped through her town of Moore, earlier … Continue reading →

Dead Wild Roses: The First Step in Deprogramming the Religious – Superstition

Superstition, and it’s ugly codified twin brother religion, rely on the suspension of one’s critical faculties. When someone is going on about how jeebus talks to them or they are feeling the power of god or <insert prurience for inane godbaggy here> or whatever, the topics covered in this video by Qualia Soup come to mind. Confirmation bias, what we all struggle against (or should be struggling against) robs us of the capacity to evaluate situations and events around us in a reasonable way.

You may be “good with god” but you look pretty stupid to the rest

. . . → Read More: Dead Wild Roses: The First Step in Deprogramming the Religious – Superstition

Chadwick's Blog & Commentary: The other conspiracy theories….

After writing about the nonsensical “chemtrail” conspiracy theory and its tin-foil-hat brigade believers, I amused myself by reading up on some of the other conspiracies-du-jour on the internet. And no, I don’t mean your garden-variety secret-mushroom-farm, PRA dome, lobbyists-and-rec-facilities, aliens-in-disguise-running-the-library, … Continue reading →

Chadwick's Blog & Commentary: Forgery!

Forgery. It’s something that one normally associates with criminals; passing counterfeit bills, scammers, online pirates, people selling fake relics or fake ID. It’s something I would not normally associate with religion. But it’s a significant problem in the book millions … Continue reading →

Death By Trolley: Is belief in God a choice?

The following satirical video, “Gay Scientists Isolate Christian Gene”, pokes fun at the concept of a “gay gene” and religious opposition to homosexuality.

The proportion of people who believe that homosexuality is chosen is decreasing. That’s not to imply that homosexuality is the phenotype expressed by a “gay gene”. Just that whatever makes one gay – e.g., some range of interactions between genetic, hormonal, neurological and/or social/environmental factors – it’s not the sort of conscious deliberations a teenager makes when choosing which college to attend.

Part of what makes the video above funny is that it suggests

. . . → Read More: Death By Trolley: Is belief in God a choice?

Chadwick's Blog & Commentary: America’s Intolerant WBC Fundamentalists

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I watched this. laugh because Russell Brand* just runs circles around these guys from the Westboro Church and they don’t seem to realize when they are being mocked. Fish in a barrel, I suppose. Cry … Continue reading →

Chadwick's Blog & Commentary: Another popular myth debunked: moon doesn’t make crazies

“Myth Debunked: Full Moon Does Not Increase Incidence of Psychological Problems,” says the headline on a story on Science Daily. I was amused by the notion that, in 2012, anyone would seriously believe that the moon affected human psycholog… . . . → Read More: Chadwick’s Blog & Commentary: Another popular myth debunked: moon doesn’t make crazies