Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bering in Mind: God may work in mysterious ways--but cognitive science is getting a handle on them

Author’s note: The following excerpt is the Introduction to my new book, The Belief Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny and the Meaning of Life.
God came from an egg. At least, that’s how He came to me. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very fancy egg. More specifically, it was an ersatz FabergĂ© egg decorated with colorful scenes from the Orient. Now about two dozen years before the episode I’m about to describe, somewhere in continental Europe, this particular egg was shunted through the vent of an irritable hen, pierced with a needle and drained of its yolk, and held in the palm of a nimble artist who, for hours upon hours, painstakingly hand-painted it with elaborate images of a stereotypical Asian society. The artist, who specialized in such kitsch materials, then sold the egg along with similar wares to a local vendor, who placed it carefully in the front window of a side-street souvenir shop. Here it eventually caught the eye of a young German girl, who coveted it, purchased it, and after some time admiring it in her apartment against the backdrop of the Black Forest, wrapped it in layers of tissue paper, placed it in her purse, said a prayer for its safe transport, and took it on a transatlantic journey to a middle-class American neighborhood where she was to live with her new military husband. There, in the family room of her modest new home, on a bookshelf crammed with romance novels and knickknacks from her earlier life, she found a cozy little nook for the egg and propped it up on a miniature display stand. A year or so later she bore a son, Peter, who later befriended the boy across the street, who suffered me as a tagalong little brother, the boy who, one aimless summer afternoon, would enter the German woman’s family room, see the egg, become transfixed by this curiosity, and crush it accidentally in his seven-year-old hand. Read More.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Why Failed Predictions Don't Stop Apocalypse Forecasters

If a group of fundamentalist Christians is right, you won't live more than another nine months.
Harold Camping, leader of the ministry Family Radio Worldwide, has concluded after careful study of the Bible that the world will begin to end on May 21, 2011. It will actually take several months for the process to be complete, but Camping is certain that by October it will all be over, and his group is doing their best to warn everyone. Read More.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

End of Days in May? Believers enter final stretch - U.S. news - Life -

Mark your calendar...not so you know when the beginning of the end starts but when to point out the ridiculousness of their claims. But you know when this doesn't come to pass they will have an excuse of why it didn't happen.

End of Days in May? Believers enter final stretch - U.S. news - Life -

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Sam Harris: A New Year's Resolution for the Rich

"While the United States has suffered the worst recession in living memory, I find that I have very few financial concerns. Many of my friends are in the same position: Most of us attended private schools and good universities, and we will be able to provide these same opportunities to our own children. No one in my immediate circle has a family member serving in Afghanistan or Iraq. In fact, in the aftermath of September 11th, 2001, the only sacrifice we were asked to make for our beloved country was to go shopping." Read More