There has been a debate in the press recently about whether the state (nation) is fundamentally a source of exploitation and war, or whether it’s a civilizing influence on humans’ natural brutal nature. The debate has echoes of Jean-Jacque Rousseau versus Thomas Hobbes, as well as echos of FDR versus the Koch brothers. In short, […]
We think when we cease to be at peace with silence.
Kahlil Gibran famously said “We talk when we cease to be at peace with our thoughts.” I humbly suggest the Buddhistic/Advaitistic “We think when we cease to be at peace with silence.”
Seven World Views in brief
The Theist (Western) There is a compassionate God who cares about you. Happiness comes from love, service, and surrender to God. (But, according to many Christians, God is vengeful and jealous and may torture you if you disobey Him.) The Theist (Eastern) Your Higher Self (atman) is identical with God (Brahma). Purify yourself, meditate and […]
Can conservatives manage what baboons can do?
Robert Sapolsky — MacArthur fellow and professor of biology, neuroscience, and neurosurgery at Stanford University — pursued decades long research into baboon societies. He found that most baboon troops were dominated by aggressive alpha males who abused other members of the troop, had pick of the females, and enjoyed good health and low levels of […]
Joshua Greene's Moral Tribes — Emotion, Reason, and the Gap between Us and Them
Joshua Greene’s Moral Tribes — Emotion, Reason, and the Gap between Us and Them is a mixture of political philosophy, evolutionary psychology, and ethics. The cool thing is that Greene is a clear thinker and superb writer, so the book is accessible to the educated layperson. The central question of the book is: In a […]
On forgiveness, self-esteem, and auto-immune diseases of the mind
There’s something that’s always perplexed me about forgiveness, and I finally think I’ve figured it out. Most people who talk about forgiveness say that it requires a change in our attitude towards the offending character. They also say that by forgiving that person for what they did we can free ourselves from the pain of […]
The Anti-Wisdom of Eckhart Tolle
Many spiritual teachers and pundits say things similar to what Eckhart Tolle said: “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but [always] your thoughts about it.” In other words, suffering comes from yourself, not from your perceived enemies. While it’s true that much suffering is self-made, it’s a gross and perverse exaggeration to […]
Making Marriage Last – Do Atheists Do It Better?
Conservative Christians think of themselves as the last line of defense for a time honored and holy tradition, marriage. In the conservative Christian view, marriage is a sacred union ordained by God. It binds one man and woman together so that the “two become one flesh” until they are parted by death. This view of […]
Former Fundamentalist and Father of Eleven Now an Evangelist for Evolutionary Biology
An interview with former fundamentalist, Ed Suominen. Ed Suominen was raised in a small sect of Lutheran Christianity called Laestadianism. Of the 32,000 denominations into which Christianity has fractured, his is one of the more conservative. Members believe in the literal truth of the Bible, including the creation story. They eschew sins like drinking, dancing, […]