Nick Spencer begins Atheists: The Origin of the Species with a fairy tale. The story he recounts is an abbreviated version of the tale championed in nineteenth-century Europe whereby progress in scientific understanding banishes ignorance and with it the pseudo-knowledge peddled by priests. In other words: progress followed science, and science displaced religion. The trouble […]
American evangelicalism is anti-intellectual. Such a view has enjoyed fairly wide currency since Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. In Apostles of Reason, Molly Worthen attempts to correct this view, but not by rejecting it outright. She shows how American evangelicals have been engaged in a range of intellectual projects – institutions, magazines, […]
Here’s a question you may or may not have ever considered, depending primarily on whether you have children or are around children very often:
Why do we teach babies to make animal sounds as some of their first “words?”
My wife and I, and we’ve noticed, all of our friends with toddlers, spend a lot of […]
How do we recognize the hand of providence? All historians have to confront this question in some form. Considered in literary terms providence is a trope, one emplotment of structured explanation amongst many. In the attempt to understand and explain the past historians offer scholarly stories in which evidence is intentionally collected, critically evaluated, and […]
Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age by Robert Bellah. Harvard, 2011, 784pp.
Has triumphalism been defeated? That’s a purposefully ambiguous and potentially self-contradictory question. It may be safe to say that it has been seriously challenged, but you don’t have to listen to the news very long before you […]
William James wrote things that can still ring true. Consider a quote from the The Varieties of Religious Experience: “This inferiority of the rationalistic level in founding belief is just as manifest when rationalism argues for religion as when it argues against it.” I say “ring true” because James attempts to describe the varieties of […]
What is the best way of defending the Christian religion today? And do we really need yet another apologia in the form of an intellectual argument? Both Alister McGrath and Benno van den Toren are alert to these questions. Mere Apologetics and Christian Apologetics as Cross-Cultural Dialogue make clear that an intellectual defense of the […]
I insisted on rereading The Great Gatsby before seeing the new film version partly because I hardly remembered anything about it (including the ending) but mostly to test my conviction that I’m at least a little bit better at understanding art and literature than I was at age […]
Secularism and Freedom of Conscience by Charles Taylor and Jocelyn Maclure, trans. by Jane Marie Todd. Harvard, 2011, 160pp.
I can remember a time when “secular” was a dirty word. Growing up in an evangelical home secular meant, primarily, secular music: the kind of music which was forbidden because it was by, of, […]
A Short History of Atheism by Gavin Hyman. I. B. Tauris, 2010, 232pp.
Yes to God? For many believers, this has not been obvious for a long time. No to God? Neither has this been obvious for a long time to unbelievers. Hans Küng, Does God Exist?
Atheism has a long and […]
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