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25 March 2019

The End, by Phil Torres

I’ve been fortunate lately to get to meet and interact with Phil Torres, independent scholar of existential risks. At my prompting, Phil came to a GSW meeting where Peter Brannen was talking about mass extinctions, and later he came to my class to talk to my Historical Geology students at NOVA about risks humanity faces. I figured it was about time I read his books, and now I can report …

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16 July 2018

Religion Explained by Pascal Boyer

Religion Explained is an interesting book. It examines the phenomenon of religion in human beings from the perspective of our best understanding (as of 2001) of neurology, psychology, anthropology, and evolution. It takes the modern scientific understanding of how brains evolved, and looks there for the origins of religious thought and its tenacity despite countervailing forces. Pascal Boyer’s contention is that we can come to understand religion better by thinking …

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25 May 2017

The World’s Religions, by Huston Smith

I’ve just finished an excellent book about religion. It’s a survey of major world religions by Huston Smith, titled straightforwardly The World’s Religions. I find religion to be fascinating. It’s a distinct human phenomenon that provides structure and meaning to so many people’s lives, and yet seems entirely superfluous to my own life. That discrepancy is so strange – it motivates me to understand it better. I found this survey …

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31 January 2017

Three kids’ books

Cosmology, evolution, and ethics for the four-year old set? It can be done! Join Callan for a brief review of three excellent books for children.

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18 March 2014

On ignorance, bias, data, and the tentative nature of (scientific) interpretations

A young-Earth creationist reinterprets one of Callan’s blog posts in light of a Biblical flood. Callan responds with a demonstration of how new information can change a true scientist’s mind, but no amount of data can convince someone whose conclusions are based on faith rather than empirical data.

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4 March 2014

God’s Harvard, by Hanna Rosin

I recently read God’s Harvard, by Washington Post reporter Hanna Rosin. It’s a profile of the people and philosophy behind Patrick Henry College, a private Christian college located not too far from me, in Purcellville, Virginia. PHC is an Evangelical place that strives to serve its homeschooled matriculating freshmen with a sense of worldliness and mastery of the liberal arts, so that by the time they graduate, they are equipped …

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21 May 2013

Praying for Oklahoma is worthless

I’m dismayed at the news yesterday out of Oklahoma – the violent storm that ended lives. This morning on Facebook, I noticed that many of my pious friends were letting the rest of us know that they were praying for Oklahoma, or more specifically, for the victims of the storm. At the same time, the hashtag #prayforoklahoma is trending on Twitter with all sorts of people dropping that phrase into …

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14 February 2013

The Discovery Institute feels sorry for my students

Periodically, I get requests to use my images in publications. It’s very easy to find my photos, because I publish a lot of them on this blog, or on my NOVA website, and they always rise to the top of a Google image search. I got a distinctive one on Monday: Dear Mr. Bentley, My boss Dr. Stephen C. Meyer at the Discovery Institute is finishing up a book that discusses …

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13 December 2012

“The evolution of creationism,” by David Montgomery

The cover story in the November issue of GSA Today was by David Montgomery, MacArthur “genius” award winner and author of Dirt. Montgomery has a new book out on creationism and “flood geology,” and the article is a précis of the historical roots of creationism that appears in that book. The article is titled “The Evolution of Creationism,” and the book it’s derived from is The Rocks Don’t Lie. I’ve …

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19 December 2011

Video book review: cartoon books

A brief video review of two books presented in a cartoon format: Feynman, by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick The Book of Genesis Illustrated, by R. Crumb

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