Life Begins at Consciousness

I once said that the issue of consciousness does not determine at what point a developing human being becomes a person, at what point life begins. I think I was wrong about that. Perhaps that is exactly the criterion we should use to determine "personhood." When Life Begins Is it ever acceptable to abort a human fetus? Is it always acceptable, or perhaps only in some circumstances? Does the physical and mental condition of the mother make a difference? Stage of fetal development? Determining Read more [...]
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Skin Turnover (Thank Science)

When I saw this Pickles cartoon about how much skin turnover we experience each year, I had to investigate. Forty pounds of dead skin cells just didn't sound right. Nothing against the cartoon strip, it's hilarious. I simply insist on accuracy. Maybe I'm a little OCD. Anyway, it turns out I was right about the figure being wrong, although it isn't as far off as I thought. The Internet is a wonderful thing. You can find whatever you are looking for, even if it's wrong. So I found when I Read more [...]
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Eternal Memories and Eternal Life

What would it be like to live forever? Would you run out of new things to do, new things to learn, after a few thousand years? Let's see if we can imagine it. Here's the setup: suppose, for the sake of argument, that we have been granted eternal life. We have some kind of “spiritualized” bodies that will never get sick or wear out, and our minds will remain sharp. What about our memories? Eternal Memories There are two possibilities: either we will be able to remember everything perfectly, Read more [...]
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Homophobic Robert Jeffress

So when I saw this post about how Pastor Robert Jeffress is supposed to be homophobic, it caught my interest, and I had to investigate. I didn't know much about Jeffress, and I don't like to pass on incomplete or misleading information. The article linked to was inconclusive, in my estimation. Yes, I could see he holds a narrow view of marriage—one man, one woman—but that in itself doesn't make him a bigot. It could just be a difference of opinion. The question is whether he would try to enforce Read more [...]
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The Right to Offend

On January 12, Maajid Nawaz tweeted an image of a cartoon. The events that are still unfolding from that innocuous act deserve attention, and I can't phrase it any better than did Kenan Malik: on the importance of the right to offend ‘Thank you @Channel4News you just pushed us liberal Muslims further into a ditch’. So tweeted Maajid Nawaz, prospective Liberal Democratic parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, last night. He had every right to be incandescent. Channel 4 Read more [...]
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Global Warming Deniers Want Big Government

Really? Very odd, but it does seem that way. Global warming deniers—those who claim to know more about climate science than climate scientists do—make a lot of noise about the threat of big government. If they go so far as to admit the climate is changing,  they assert that the only way to deal with it would be overwhelming government control. Which, they assure us, would be worse than any ill effects from the changing climate. Bucket Argument The denial argument used to be “Global warming Read more [...]
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Evangelizing, as a Hypothetical Christian

I think Christians generally do an inadequate job of evangelizing. I did poorly when I was an evangelical. That’s partly because Christian mythology is incoherent and confusing. If I believed in the Christian god now, and were trying to win over the unsaved, here’s what I would tell the potential convert: There is no hell. God is not bent on punishing people. Our version of the story of the Fall and expulsion from the Garden is badly composed. It is not meant to be about capital punishment for Read more [...]
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A Word to the Wise

In these pages, I offer my opinions and the occasional bit of wisdom I have acquired in my struggles. Sometimes I offer advice, particularly in responding to comments. What I say is never intended to be understood as psychological or spiritual counseling, much less therapy. I may make recommendations for your consideration. If I say something that helps you understand our world better, great! Whether you believe me to be wise or not is rather beside the point; even a fool may say something profound, Read more [...]
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Sunspots and Climate Change

Originally published September 2013. Has solar output been causing global warming, and not human carbon dioxide emissions? Sunspot numbers in 2013 have been well below average for this point in the cycle. If we are now heading into a grand minimum of solar activity, will that reverse the changes in climate we have been experiencing over the past several decades? That would be great! The average temperature would start going down and we would go back to normal patterns of weather, like our grandparents Read more [...]
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The New Era

Returning the U.S. to Democracy and Prosperity This new book claims to offer "remedies to restore democracy, improve economic equality, galvanize community and enable Americans to reclaim their constitutional political power." It's a big undertaking, but Hamdy El-Rayes has credentials. He grew up under the reign of Abdul Nasser in Egypt, and after moving to North America, became actively involved in social causes, later founding the El-Rayes Foundation. Much of what El-Rayes says is controversial. Read more [...]
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