The Comedians of Comedy at the Cracker Barrel

[via Fuck Yeah Standup Comedy]

Also, thanks to Levon for this completely unrelated video:

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January 5, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Video. Leave a comment.

The Cringe at the Heart of Christmas

[image via TV by the Numbers]

Giles Fraser from the Guardian blasts it.

Christmas can be a bad time for those of us with an allergy to all that Jesus-is-my-friend theology. As the angels sing, the eternal mystery pulsing through all things becomes a human being. Yes, this is orthodox Christianity. But what too many Christians take from this is theological permission to get terribly chummy with the divine. As God turns into Jesus, mystery can be replaced by sentiment, eternity forced to the scale of the domestic imagination. God becomes my best buddy. It’s the cringe at the heart of Christmas. […]

Evangelical Christianity, with all its emphasis on Jesus as friend, risks domesticating the divine, pulling God too much within the dimensions of the human perspective. With this sort of Jesus at hand, God becomes just too easy.Yes, of course, one can read the incarnation very differently. I would argue that the idea of God as a baby is one of the most disruptive theological suggestions ever made. After all, isn’t God supposed to be omnipotent? Here, Jesus is a supreme form of denial – a denial of God as power. And this powerlessness can be as much intellectual as anything else. To be a Christian is not to have the answers. Sometimes it’s just about living the questions.

Word.

[Giles Fraser @ the Guardian via the Browser]

[Animated GIF via If We Don’t, Remember Me]

December 14, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Reading. 1 comment.

Hooligans Beware!

[via Gun Show]

October 26, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . Comics. Leave a comment.

Stephen Hawking Is out to Sell Books

Tell me you know what an internet troll looks like by now.

How is Stephen Hawking any different? By stirring up controversy over his boring new book about quantum physics, he gets to make bank. Don’t fall for simple shenanigans.

Anthony Gottlieb @ the Economist was not impressed:

The authors may be in this enviable state of enlightenment, but most readers will not have a clue what they are on about. Some physics fans will enjoy “The Grand Design” nonetheless. The problem is not that the book is technically rigorous—like “A Brief History of Time”, it has no formulae—but because whenever the going threatens to get tough, the authors retreat into hand-waving, and move briskly on to the next awe-inspiring notion. Anyone who can follow their closing paragraphs on the relation between negative gravitational energy and the creation of the universe probably knows it all already. This is physics by sound-bite.

So as a book, it’s probably not for you. Let’s get on with why Hawking’s “god is dead” argument is particularly droll.

Graham Farmello @ the Daily Telegraph:

It is perhaps a bit rich for Hawking to make God redundant after granting him/her/it a celebrity cameo at the end of his multi-million selling A Brief History of Time. In his famous conclusion to the book, Hawking wrote that if scientists could find the most fundamental laws of nature “then we should know the mind of God”. To be fair, he was writing metaphorically – we all know what he meant.

He now suggests that the search for this particular Holy Grail is over, now that scientists have come up with a type of theory, known as M-theory, that may describe the behaviour of all the fundamental particles and force, and even account for the very birth of the universe. If this theory is backed up by experiment, it might perhaps replace all religious accounts of creation – in Hawking’s capacious mind, it already has.

Bottom line:

Science and religion are about fundamentally different things. No religion has ever been rendered obsolete by facts or observations, but this happens to most scientific theories, at least in the long run. […]

A useful characteristic of a scientific theory is that it must be possible, at least in principle, for experimenters to prove it wrong. […]

No religion has ever been set out in terms of scientific statements. This is why scientists are able to mock the claims of religions but have never been able to deal a knock-out blow: in the end, a religious believer can always fall back on a faith that does not depend on verification.

So believe what you will and don’t troll or be trolled. Unless you’re trying to sell books that is.

[both articles via the always relevant Browser]

[image via my mmo site]

September 15, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Reading. 4 comments.

Auguste Comte Continued

Let’s be honest about why I posted that article:

[via xkcd]

August 2, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Comics. Leave a comment.

Auguste Comte: Atheist Pluralist

Auguste Comte. Inventor of sociology and positivism. Yeah, yeah. Here’s what really impressed me:

Although we tend to think of atheists as not only unbelieving but also hostile to religion, there is a minor tradition of atheistic thinkers who have attempted to reconcile suspicion of religion with a sympathy for its ritualistic aspects. […]

Comte’s thinking on religion had as its starting point a characteristically blunt observation that, in the modern world, thanks to the discoveries of science, it would no longer be possible for anyone intelligent or robust to believe in God. […]

At the same time Comte recognised, as many of his more rational contemporaries did not, that a secular society devoted solely to financial accumulation and romantic love and devoid of any sources of consolation, transcendent awe or solidarity would be prey to untenable social and emotional ills.

Comte’s solution was neither to cling blindly to sacred traditions, nor to cast them collectively and belligerently aside, but rather to pick out their more relevant and secular aspects and fuse them with certain insights drawn from philosophy, art and science. The result, the outcome of decades of thought and the summit of Comte’s intellectual achievement, was a new religion: a religion for atheists, or, as he termed it, a religion of humanity.

Radical.

Dude was way ahead of his time. Prominent modern atheists like Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, and Dennett are so shrill in comparison. Where’s the room for reconciliation in today’s discourse? The respectful space required for reverence and community for non-religious people?

[Alain de Botton @ New Statesman via The Browser]

[photo via Wikipedia]

July 27, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Reading. Leave a comment.