Conversations: The “Good Book”


Helena
It is probably fair to say that most Christians believe that mortals like ourselves cannot reject the morality of the Bible.

Galene
What does that mean exactly?

Helena
I think it means that human beings cannot say, to take a story out of Christian mythology, that God was wrong to drown most of humanity in the flood of Genesis, because this is merely the way it seems from our limited point of view. And yet, in other cases, people feel that they are in a position to judge that Jesus is the Son of God, that the Golden Rule is the height of moral wisdom, and that the Bible is not itself brimming with lies. Continue reading

On Unattainability of Understanding


“It is only possible to succeed at second-rate pursuits — like becoming a millionaire or a prime minister, winning a war, seducing beautiful women, flying through the stratosphere or landing on the moon. First-rate pursuits involving, as they must, trying to understand what life is about and trying to convey that understanding — inevitably result in a sense of failure. A Napoleon, a Churchill, a Roosevelt can feel themselves to be successful, but never a Socrates, a Pascal, a Blake. Understanding is for ever unattainable. Therein lies the inevitability of failure in embarking upon its quest, which is none the less the only one worthy of serious attention.”

– Malcolm Muggeridge

Snowball Earth


A frozen world
850-635 million years ago

Earth froze over again, twice, in the space of 200 million years. The ice may well have stretched all the way from the poles to the equator. This second Snowball period may have triggered the evolution of the first complex animals. The first complex organisms, weird tube- and frond-shaped things called the Ediacarans, appeared soon after.

See other: History of Life

26/v mmxvi


Condom is a large municipality in the Gers region of France. One of its monuments is Condom Cathedral, former seat of the Bishop of Condom.

The word ‘laughter’ is mentioned 7 times in the King James Bible the word ‘slaughter’ is mentioned 55 times.

Atheists can be legally prosecuted, sent to jail, and in some cases executed, in 55 countries.

At the time of writing, in the United Kingdom, tampons are taxed as luxury goods. Jaffa Cakes are not.

From 1953 to 2002, the Piper to the Queen Mother was responsible for playing the bagpipes at the request of Queen Elizabeth’s mother.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

Life in Turkmenistan


At the time of writing, Turkmenistan remains one of the world’s most repressive countries. The country is virtually closed to independent scrutiny, media and religious freedoms are subject to draconian restrictions, and human rights defenders and other activists face the constant threat of government reprisal. The government continues to use imprisonment as a tool for political retaliation. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the President of Turkmenistan, his relatives, and associates enjoy unlimited power and total control over all aspects of public life.

“Let the life of every Turkmen be as beautiful as our melons.”
– Saparmurad Niyazov, President of Turkmenistan (1990-2006)

Continue reading

Phrygian Cap


The Phrygian cap is a soft felt or wool headdress fitting closely around the head and characterized by a pointed crown that curls forward. It originated in the ancient country of Phrygia in Asia Minor and is represented in ancient Greek art as the type of headdress worn by Orientals. In Rome the Phrygian cap was worn by emancipated slaves as a symbol of their freedom. During the 11th and 12th centuries, it was again extensively used.

The Phrygian cap once more became the emblem of liberty in the 18th century during the French Revolution, when it was adopted by the Revolutionaries as “the red cap of liberty.” Until this day it is closely associated with the French Republic, as it is the headdress worn by Marianne, the allegorical personification of France.

Conversations: Moderates and Morality


Helena
Even if a belief in God had a reliable, positive effect upon human behaviour, this would not offer a reason to believe in God. One can believe in God only if one thinks that God actually exists.

Sappho
Good point. Even if atheism led straight to moral chaos, this would not suggest that the doctrine of Christianity is true. Islam might be true, in that case. Or all religions might function like placebos. As descriptions of the universe, they could be utterly false but, nevertheless, useful. The evidence suggests, however, that they are not only false but dangerous.

Zoe
Slow down! Most Christians, Jews, Muslims, et cetera, cannot be categorized as fundamentalists. In fact, when talking about the good consequences that religious beliefs have on human morality, most people of faith follow the example of religious liberals and religious moderates. Consider Christians the world over, rather than say that they believe in God because certain biblical prophecies have come true, or because the miracles recounted in the Gospels are convincing, liberals and moderates tend to talk in terms of the good consequences of believing as they do. Such believers often say that they believe in God because this “gives their lives meaning.” Continue reading