lukegilman.com : High on the Hog Blog
Purveyor of Idle Observation

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Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at www.lukegilman.com

Atheists with Attitude: Adventures in Public Doubt

As previously posted, I’m genuinely fascinated with the current crop of evangelizing atheists and just read an excellent article in the New Yorker by Anthony Gottlieb on the subject – Atheists with Attitude.

Since all the arguments against belief have been widely publicized for a long time, today’s militant atheists must sometimes wonder why religion persists. Hitchens says that it is born of fear and probably ineradicable. Harris holds that there are genuine spiritual experiences; having kicked sand in the faces of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, he dives headlong into the surf of Eastern spirituality, encouraging readers to try Buddhist techniques of meditation instead of dangerous creeds. Dawkins devotes a chapter, and Dennett most of his book, to evolutionary accounts of how religion may have arisen and how its ideas spread.

The same ideas and some of the usual suspects are present at the TED Conference with streaming video of talks on the theme Is there a God?.

It’s no longer socially acceptable I think, to be interested in people one disagrees so fundamentally with. Ours is a society in which we welcome the opportunity to forget that we live with people that see the world differently than we do. When we do acknowledge the presence of ‘others’ we feel compelled to demonstrate how unlike us they are – in their ideas, their very humanity. Christians may reflexively attribute the Atheist’s doubt to his lostness, to rebellion, or in extreme minds, to evil itself. The Christian archetype for the atheist is either a moron – deluded by self or society – or more sinisterly, a misanthropic hypocrite – manipulative, sadistic and repressed, willing to sacrifice anything for the sake of certainty in their principles. The dichotomy is a useless one. It reflects only what one side would like to think about the other.

Having once been an atheist, I feel as much in common with this group of authors as I would with many Christian circles. Perhaps more so. Though I don’t agree with them, this doesn’t make their points are valid and we, as Christians, serve no purpose in waiving them away or giving them a paternalistic pat on the head. We would do well to recognize just how fantastically bizarre our professed Christian faith really is. We’ve grown so used to it through close association and a disturbing habit among churched culture of discouraging honest questions and a need to resolve tidily any questions that do arise. As our assumptions pile up, we find ourselves less-able to have coherent conversations with those who don’t accept our precepts.

Acerbic Brit Christopher Hitchens is by far the most interesting and articulate and if this subject holds any interest with you whatsoever, I highly recommend his debate with Douglas Wilson in Christianity Today “Is Christianity Good for the World?” Hat tip to Houston’s Clear Thinkers.

Wine Making in Texas

NPR: Texas Presses Ahead in Wine Production

Banksy

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banksy.co.uk, New Yorker: Banksy Was Here: The invisible man of graffiti art,

Amazon:

Cowan on McGaw’s Schumpeter, Prophet of Innovation

Tyler Cowan of Marginal Revolution has given an glowing review of – Thomas McGaw’s Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction – a book I’ll likely not have a chance to read in the near future. Law school means never having to say you don’t have anything to read. I’m still struggling to find time to put a dent in Sudhir Ventatesh’s excellent Off the Books.

NB: if you’re not subscribed to this econoblog’s RSS feed your news-reading habits suffering a diminishing rate of return.

The American: Schumpeter Revealed.

Weird Man Comes to Kindergarden Class, sings scary songs on his guitar

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Priceless.

“The kids have been coming home and telling their parents about the weird man who keeps coming to class to sing scary songs on his guitar.”

Yeah, I could see it.

PR Inside: Bob Dylan reportedly scared the children at his grandson’s kindergarten after treating the class to a live show.