Ecosystems and Glory

I was walking past the pond, listening to hundreds of frogs singing in order to score a mate, and I was struck by the magnificence of it all. We don't know everything about the world, by a long way, but we know a lot of things. We have discovered why frogs sing and how they reproduce. We have found out how frogs came to differentiate from their fish-like ancestors, and how they interact with all the other plants and animals and microbes in that ecosystem. A creationist might say that it is Read more [...]
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Thank Random

I was an evangelical Christian for over 20 years. Whenever something good happened to me during that time, I would thank God for bestowing such favor on me. When something bad happened, I would also thank God—for being with me and getting me through it. I think differently now. I have matured, and for that development I suppose I can thank random events, or fate, or rationality. I look at my former way of interpreting life as a rather childish way of understanding reality, but that's the way Read more [...]
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Climate Change Meta Writing

It's time for a little more writing about what I write. Since my motto is "all the things your mother told you not to talk about," you may legitimately wonder why I often write about climate change, aka global warming. As my motto implies, I focus primarily on topics that are too controversial for polite conversation, and such conversation can include talk about the weather. So why would it be impolite to write about climate change? Climate Change: the Controversy No doubt you are aware by now Read more [...]
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Global Warming and a General Lack of Panic

I suppose it to be a recurring pattern. Whenever we have a spell of unusual cold in Minnesota, the Arctic experiences warmer than usual weather. It could be related to global warming, a weakening of the polar jet stream allowing warmer air to migrate further north over Alaska while frigid Arctic air hits south into the Eastern US. Melting Ice and Cold Spells Right now we have some of that cold nastiness dragging winter weather into what should be spring. The ice charts from the Arctic appear to Read more [...]
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Liberal Climate Change Outlook

How are liberal climate change policies determined? Why are conservatives so often opposed to action to deal with climate change? There is a particular explanation of the two points of view that I keep running across. I generally see pieces of it expressed, but here is my summary of the entire argument: Liberals either invented climate change or exaggerated its importance, so that they could take advantage of it to advance their true agenda, which is big government. Conservatives want small government Read more [...]
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Set Apart

Sacred* (adjective): 5 b: highly valued and important 5 a:  unassailable, inviolable 4 archaic:  accursed 3:  of or relating to religion 2 b: entitled to reverence and respect 2 a:  worthy of religious veneration,  holy 1 b: devoted exclusively to one service or use 1 a:  dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity So, I'm walking my little dog, and we come across a big pile of dog poop; apparently deposited there recently. While my dog is sniffing at it, I think Read more [...]
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Pope Francis Attacks Free Speech

The Pope defends freedom of speech but says, "You cannot make fun of the faith of others," according to the Guardian. Overall, Pope Francis has been a huge improvement over the last pope, but he has come out completely on the wrong side of this issue. Making fun of religious faith is easy. It's s rich target. It is also legally permitted in most places, as it should be. It is also a longstanding tradition of most faiths, including Christianity and Judaism, to mock the faith of others. (See 1 Kings Read more [...]
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This is Not the Prophet Muhammad

(Update below) I have to admit I don't quite understand why some religious people get upset by what they consider to be forbidden images of their gods or other holy beings; Muslims in particular, regarding likenesses of the Prophet Muhammad. Especially in the case of cartoons, how can they be sure who is being depicted? Do they not realize that an image is not the actual thing, or are they just looking for an excuse to vent? I have recently been enlightened as to Islamic doctrine on the portrayal Read more [...]
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Je Suis Charlie

The Slate headline reads: News Outlets Are Censoring Images of Cartoons That May Have Incited Charlie Hebdo Attack. Whatever else we say, I insist that what incited that attack was not humorous cartoons, but a perverted religious faith. The sadly deluded individuals who perpetrated this crime were motivated by hatred and fear, not devotion. They did not avenge the Prophet Mohammed, they raped him. Anything that is good in the religion of Islam can only be harmed by this kind of criminal activity, Read more [...]
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Atheist Morality

I don't cheat on my tax forms. That doesn't make me a person of high moral standing; it could just mean I don't want to get penalized for breaking the law. So, do I have an atheist morality? I have been criticized for being a goody two-shoes for declining to enter false information on official forms. I have many reasons for trying to comply with the requirements. Not getting caught in a felony is one, of course. Lack of any substantial benefit is another. Think about it. If I am going to commit Read more [...]
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