The Rael Deal: Susan Palmer of the Dawson College Religion Department gives a detailed background of the Raelians. They are in the spotlight this week with their claims of a successful birth of a cloned child and, judging from Palmer's article, are probably basking in it. [via A Voyage to Arcturus]
Survival of the Slickest: on Intelligent Design, the latest challenge to science education, and the people behind it.
ID theorists posit that living things, due to their organizational complexity and magnificent design, simply must be the creations of some form of intelligence. Where evolutionary biologists see species evolving through a blind process of natural selection acting over millions of years, ID theorists assert that life as we know it simply could not have arisen in such a manner. Furthermore, they claim that this is a scientific observation. ID advocates don't always articulate precisely what sort of intelligence they think should stand in lieu of evolution on textbook pages, but God -- defined in a very nebulous way -- generally outpolls extraterrestrials as the leading candidate.
[via Arts & Letters Daily]
Home Alone in the Universe?: Fred Heeren examines the search for extraterrestial intelligence, the impacts its success would have for religion, and the reasons to think we won't be making contact other intelligent life anytime soon, if ever. [via Fragments from Floyd (Va)]
Supernatural Selection: a review of Robert Pennock's new book, Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics, on the newest attempt to get evolution out of the classroom.
In the last decade or so, creationism has grown sophisticated. Oh, the old-fashioned creationists are still around, especially in the Bible Belt. They're the ones who believe that the earth is only a few thousand years old, that God created it and all its inhabitants in six days and that fossils are a product of Noah's flood. In the early 1990's, however, a new breed of creationists appeared. These ''neo-creos,'' as they have been called, are no Dogpatch hayseeds. They have Ph.D.'s and occupy positions at some of the better universities. The case they make against Darwinism does not rest on the authority of Scripture; rather, it proceeds from premises that are scientific and philosophical, invoking esoteric ideas in molecular biology, information theory and the logic of hypothesis testing.
[via Snowdeal which, as always, has a nice collection of related links]
Filtering Software: The Religious Connection: Nancy Willard from CATE's Responsible Netizen examines the relationships between eight companies which produce internet filtering software and conservative religious organizations. [via BookNotes]
Bad Faith: on the tendency by Bush and Ashcroft to include only the religious in their world view.
A month or so ago, in a speech to the National Religious Broadcasters' annual convention, Attorney General John Ashcroft said the following: "Civilized individuals, Christians, Jews, and Muslims, all understand that the source of freedom and human dignity is the Creator. Governments may guard freedom. Governments don't grant freedom. All people are called to the defense of the Grantor of freedom, and the framework of freedom He created." And with those words, Ashcroft encapsulated everything that is admirable, and everything that is awful, about the Bush administration's understanding of religion in the United States.
Other People's Religions: on the attempt by the Los Angeles schools system to remove anti-Semitism from Korans placed in their libraries.
Here's the problem with the Los Angeles school district's fair-mindedness: It fails to grasp an inevitable part of religion. Most world religions originally preached intolerance of other religions. To take its mission statement at its word, the committee would have to expunge from school libraries the holy books of at least the three major creeds in this country, since their primary texts and annotations thereof are often suffused with antipathy toward unbelievers, as well as toward such nationalities as, say, the Egyptians and the Canaanites, and occupations like prostitute, moneylender and tyrant. To scrub even the footnotes to Scripture of intolerance, you have to erase religious history.
'Creative' approach to teaching religion draws fire: a textbook is causing controversy in California because of perceived bias towards Islam.
"The text specifically displays its bias by only citing Christianity for examples of religious persecution, focusing on church schisms, crusades, and inquisitions," says a statement from the Pacific Justice Institute, which is representing the San Luis Obispo parent.
The publisher, for its part, says that the textbook covers a period of history until 1789, and that modern topics would not be suitable. "We're also not covering the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor when we're talking about medieval Japan," says Collin Earnst, a spokesman for Houghton Mifflin, the Boston-based publisher of the textbook.
Oh, Gods!: on the continued evolution of religion and the study of new religious movements.
In 1851 the French historian and philosopher Ernest Renan announced to the world that Islam was "the last religious creation of humanity." He was more than a bit premature. At about the time he was writing, the Bahai faith, Christian Science, Mormonism, the Seventh-Day Adventists, and a major Japanese religious movement known as Tenrikyo were all just coming to life. Falun Gong and Pentecostalism--both of which now have millions and millions of members--had yet to emerge. Whoops.
- University of Virginia: The Religious Movements Homepage
- Graduate Theological Union: New Religious Movements Links
After failing to obtain publication for his theory, George Hammond, has released his proof of God to the world in the paper Scientific Evidence that God is a Curvature in Psychometry Space. He has also helpfully provided this God Test for readers to determine ahead of time if they are capable of comprehending the proof. [via genehack]
The Electric Christian Rapture Test: on the Dennis Lee and the people buying into his free energy scheme.
They say all it takes is a little bit of faith, some cash and a signature, and if everything goes as planned, subscribing Christians (and maybe a few trusting infidels) will be free of Nevada Power--and their power bills--for life.
Call it the Electric Christian Rapture Test.
"I sold all my stock last year because I would rather put it into this company than the stock market," says Conrad Sorensen, who owns Henderson dealership Grassroot Enterprises of Tesla, Inc. "I feel my money's going to be safer here than any stock market."
Sorensen is part of a network of disciples of self-proclaimed anointed one, inventor and Christian evangelist Dennis Lee, who-- though he has actions pending against him by attorneys general and alerts filed by Better Business Bureaus in various states--has been traveling the country, registering people for free power. The would-be, modern-day miracle-maker says that the Fourth of July will take on an extra special meaning this year. This July 4 will not just be Independence Day for our nation. It will be America's Declaration of Energy Independence Day. The day when their fabulous invention will be unveiled and the faithful will receive the free electricity that Lee's brethren have been promising for years.
- Dennis Lee's free electricity claims
- Dennis Lee, His Critics and the "Skeptics"
- Better World Technologies
- International Tesla Electric Company
The Last Cargo Cult: : on the Jon Frum Movement on the island of Tanna.
To anthropologists, John Frum was an example of one of the strangest and most exotic phenomena to be observed in traditional cultures: the cargo cult. All across Melanesia, from New Guinea to the Solomon Islands to Tanna's archipelago, the New Hebrides, dozens of unconnected communities, thousands of miles apart and speaking unrelated languages, seemed spontaneously to generate the same set of bizarre beliefs. A new dispensation was on the way, when the white man would vanish from the islands, and his cargo - Western goods - would be diverted by magical means to the local people, who were its rightful owners.
Religious Right Finds Its Center in Oval Office
Pat Robertson's resignation this month as president of the Christian Coalition confirmed the ascendance of a new leader of the religious right in America: George W. Bush.
[via wood s lot]
Islam is not the Source of Terrorism, But its Solution: instead, according to the author of Islam Denounces Terrorism, the cause lies in atheism, Darwinism, and materialism. [via NoParking]