Alex’s Heresies – embracing a physical reality

news, commentaries and articles dedicated to a non-dualistic view of the world

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Blog: Natural Philosophy of Life

Overview as quoted from the site (http://www.geopolitics.us/)

Natural Philosophy

The natural philosophy of life offers a simple, elegant, and powerful alternative to religious dogma. This philosophy has a firm foundation in nature, science, and reason. It is centered on the core values of honesty, generosity, equality, and freedom.
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Comment: Doing science

Here is an interesting link on doing science – writing a hypothesis, designing a testing testing regime, and so on

http://www.experiment-resources.com/steps-of-the-scientific-method.html

Alex McCullie

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Link: Non-Belief – Third-Largest Religion

Without tackling the “atheism as a religion” argument here are some interesting statistics on religion from Adherents.com

  1. Christianity: 2.1 billion
  2. Islam: 1.5 billion
  3. Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist: 1.1 billion
  4. Hinduism: 900 million
  5. Chinese traditional religion: 394 million
  6. Buddhism: 376 million
  7. primal-indigenous: 300 million
  8. African Traditional & Diasporic: 100 million
  9. Sikhism: 23 million
  10. Juche: 19 million
  11. Spiritism: 15 million
  12. Judaism: 14 million
  13. Baha’i: 7 million
  14. Jainism: 4.2 million
  15. Shinto: 4 million
  16. Cao Dai: 4 million
  17. Zoroastrianism: 2.6 million
  18. Tenrikyo: 2 million
  19. Neo-Paganism: 1 million
  20. Unitarian-Universalism: 800 thousand
  21. Rastafarianism: 600 thousand
  22. Scientology: 500 thousand

 P.S. The scientology figure of adherents is greatly debated. See SolitaryTrees for one such debate.

Alex McCullie

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News: Richard Dawkins Interviewed ABC TV

Andrew Denton, a popular Australian interviewer and comedy writer, spoke to Richard Dawkins as part of Denton’s Elders series. It was probably one of the worst interviews I’ve seen for some time. Denton repeatedly tried to take Dawkins where he didn’t want to go – talking about his inner feelings.

Dawkins explicitly rejected opportunities to disclose personal feelings and that’s his right. Denton asked for word definitions like ‘wisdom’ as a way of getting Dawkins to talk about himself. This obviously made him uncomfortable – he kept saying use a dictionary instead. I found, surprisingly, Denton continued this line of questioning instead of then changing direction to make the interview more effective. The whole aim of this type of “celebrity” interview is to garner as much information as possible – let the interviewee talk.

Finally the interview finished and Dawkins had virtually left before the final wrap-up.

Alex

Here’s the link to the ABC. The transcript or video isn’t there yet. ABC televison page

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Link: Better off without religion?

Here is a link to Susan Blackmore’s essay in the Guardian. She also refers to an interesting research paper by Gregory Paul,  freelance researcher, on the dependence on religious belief and dysfunctional psychosociological conditions.

Alex McCullie

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News: Atheist and Be Ordained

If you want to be both, you can be ordained on-line for free through to US$89.95 for the deluxe version. A site for spiritual humanism offers ordaining packages without the need for seminary training. I have no idea whether it is a simple money making activity or someone seriously wanting to allow atheists to conduct civil services and other religious roles.

It doesn’t help in Australia as we have particular requirements before one is able to conduct wedding or funeral ceremonies.

Alex McCullie

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News: New Book Evolution of God

Robert Wright of Non-Zero and Moral Animal fame is about to release his latest book, The Evolution of God. Apparently it is a secular look at how religious belief and practice has changed throughout history.

Times OnLine introduction and Amazon link.

Alex McCullie

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News: Philosophical Personality Test

Here’s a personality test and feedback run by experimental philosophers from Pittsburgh University and Shreiner University (website). Have fun!

Alex McCullie

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Comment: Studying the Christian Bible – Secular Style

As part of countering “you don’t know enough about Christianity to criticise” argument I have embarked on studying the Christian Bible, Christian theology and Christian beliefs and practices. Even before starting I had to make a number of decisions and commitments.

Firstly, what am I trying to understand? Is it simply looking at the Bible text for its inconsistencies and appalling moral prescriptions (and there are many in both testaments)? This is a favourite pastime of fellow critics of religion. However I don’t think that moves the argument forward. I believe a more useful approach initially was to familiarise myself with the Bible and associated beliefs in a fairly non-critical way.

At times this becomes difficult when reading some Bible commentary that accepts all the Bible text as absolute truth even when you know that historically the events never happened. An example is the birth of Jesus. All evidence suggests that his birthplace was in Nazareth and not Bethlehem. Luke’s birth story was more about linking Jesus’s birth to Old Testament prophesy than any historical fact. Also I’ve found many of the evangelical style analyses particularly unpalatable to rationally-based secular thinking. There’s only so far that I can “willingly suspend my disbelief”.

How to go about learning more? Reading articles at random does not give a foundation that necessary for subsequent study. So I’ve started with audio lectures from the Teaching Company. Each lecture series is discounted once a year and that’s the time it’s worth buying with transcripts preferably. I’m working through Philosophy of Religion by James Hall now. Each lecture series is produced and delivered by a university professor and provide a good introductory coverage of the subject. My next topics will be Old Testament and New Testament. Again, wait until the series is on special.

Are there any interesting books? There are books by biblical scholars who take a more academic approach to examining the historical Jesus. There are many books. Here’s a good one to start with: Who Is Jesus? by John Dominic Crossan and Richard G Watts. The book is structured along question and answer lines and presents a historical view of Jesus very different from the one from the Synoptic Gospels of the New Testament, for example.

I hope that helps if you want to study the other side.

Alex McCullie

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News: Banning Creation Criticism in Islamic Turkey

Richard Dawkin‘s site has been banned by a Turkish court after a complaint by Islamic creationist author, Adnan Oktar. (Article at Monsters and Critics blog Article at Richard Dawkins) According to the newspaper articles the complaint was about the defaming of his book, Atlas of Creation, by Dawkins.

Alex McCullie

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