Studying Religion Without God

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Caravaggio (1602-1603): Doubting Thomas

 

I read an article that addresses some of the issues that I’ve had studying religion regarding how to approach religious truth claims. Its difficult to analyze the history of a religion from the perspective of a true believer by following empirical research principles. Logically, I can’t proceed from the point of view that Jesus rose from the dead or that an angel dictated the Koran to Mohammed. So – from the perspective of my subjects, I’m not doing real research. But if I accepted my subject’s claims of truth at face value, I don’t think I would be engaging in real scholarship. Several times, people in religious studies departments have taken me to task for being “reductionist” in my thinking – trying to explain the mystical and sacred by way of the mundane and thus imposing my worldview on others.

Can the Universe be Colonized?

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I read a Scientific American  article that I’d like to share. It discusses the problems of interstellar colonization.

Basically, since it would take millennia to reach an inhabitable planet – and people live for decades, the ship would need to carry a breeding population, thus being huge and fragile. Huge and fragile because it would be a isolated island population, having to live in a confined space for centuries at least.

I’m not as pessimistic though. I suspect that by the time anyone thinks about sending humans to another planet, other technologies will advance to the point that the crew could either be frozen, or have their minds downloaded into a computer, then uploaded to either an android body or clone. Really, the possibilities are amazing when you talk about centuries from now. It may be that advances in cybernetics and AI will render the need to colonize other livable planets mute and the next stage of human evolution may be the machine.

Killing History: The ISIS War on Civilization

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Image from a video of ISIS destroying ancient artifacts at Mosul museum.

Here is an interesting blog from The New Oxonian, by R. Joseph HoffmanKilling History: The ISIS War on Civilization

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