My links for this week–articles I noticed and thought were worth sharing. This week is heavy on atheism, but at the end, we also have a new kind of religious sensibility, so perhaps it balances out.
1. Atheism in America: Godlessness is the last big taboo in the US, where non-believers face discrimination and isolation
This is an article from the Financial Times about discrimination against Atheists in America’s heartland. For those of us on the East and West coast, this might be hard to relate to, but religiously, it’s another world as you get nearer the Mississippi. As someone who grew up in that world, I found it a bit overstated, but an interesting portrait nonetheless.
A now famous University of Minnesota study concluded that Americans ranked atheists lower than Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in “sharing their vision of American society”. Nearly 48 per cent said they “would disapprove if my child wanted to marry a member of this group” (many more than the next most unpopular category, Muslims, at 33.5 per cent). No wonder atheist groups talk of modelling their campaigns on the civil rights, gay and women’s liberation movements. It is not that they claim their persecution is on the same level but that they suggest the way forward requires a combination of organising and consciousness-raising. “We want people to realise that some of their best friends are atheists, some of their doctors, and lawyers and fire chiefs and all the rest of them are atheists,” says Dennett.
2. A Scientific Explanation for the Emergence of Mattering from Matter
From atheism to emergence. Here is a blog on Terry Deacon’s new book, which is getting serious kudos by friends of mine. He may have the most sophisticated scientific model yet to explain how mind emerges from matter. Has he answered the “hard” problem as some are suggesting, or is it another interesting but premature declaration of victory over the problematic nature of immaterial consciousness in a material world? I look forward to reading it.
With the spontaneous emergence of ententional phenomena, we find the emergence of all of life’s attributes: function, evolution, consequence-organized behavior, self-reproduction (re-presentation), end-directedness, and what is misunderstood as free will, but is actually more like self-assertion, an organism’s capacity, through its evolved and learned adaptations, to impose novel physical work on its environment.
3. The Universe Between Atheism and Fundamentalism
Back to atheism and religion. William Grassie, director of the Metanexus Institute has a blog about his view of religion. Grassie is getting The Metanexus Institute, once huge players in the science and religion field, back on its feet. Good luck to him—always a great resource for evolutionary visions of spirit.
there is a third possibility: that all religions are partly true, depending on how they are interpreted. The truths of these diverse traditions are shaped by specific historical and cultural factors, embedded in profound mythologies, rich symbol systems, and metaphysical intuitions winnowed through centuries of human experimentation and experience.
4. “Global Warming Has Stopped”? How to Fool People Using “Cherry-Picked” Climate Data
This article from Forbes takes on the latest complaints from the anti-climate change crowd. Apparently, the “Earth has stooped warming” idea is all the rage of the climate-change deniers. Who knew
The current favorite argument of those who argue that climate changes isn’t happening, or a problem, or worth dealing with, is that global warming has stopped. Therefore (they conclude) scientists must be wrong when they say that climate change is caused by humans, worsening, and ultimately a serious environmental problem that must be addressed by policy makers.
The problem with this argument is that it is false: global warming has notstopped and those who repeat this claim over and over are either lying, ignorant, or exhibiting a blatant disregard for the truth.
5. Alain de Botton reveals plans for ‘temple to atheism’ in heart of London
Back to Atheism. Alain de Botton wants to build a temple to atheism in London. It’s actually a lot more interesting then you might think. It’s really a temple celebrating the insights of modernism more than just a negative statement of about theism. Not exactly my thing, but still kinda cool. I’ll also include his TED Talk here as well.
Each centimetre of the tapering tower’s interior has been designed to represent a million years and a narrow band of gold will illustrate the relatively tiny amount of time humans have walked the planet. The exterior would be inscribed with a binary code denoting the human genome sequence.
The philosopher said he has raised almost half the funds for the project from a group of property developers who want to remain anonymous. He hopes to find the rest of the money with a public appeal, and construction could start by the end of 2013 if permission is granted by the Corporation of London.
And the TED talk:
Last link this week is a new vision of God, from Bruce Sanguin. Bruce is a leader in the new world of evolutionary spirituality, so glad to see him stepping out and re-making Christianity in a new image. “God as Future” is at the heart of an evolutionary theism, and something I write extensively about in my upcoming book. Glad that Beams and Struts, one of the best new integral/evolutionary blogs, is featuring him.
All religious and spiritual lineages throughout the ages have affirmed that the higher order cannot emerge from the lower. Again, what scientists call the “spontaneous” emergence of higher order from the lower is merely descriptive. If science introduces the idea of “information” to explain this mystery, then theology is certainly within its rights to use this analogy to describe how God influences the world without being an interfering presence. Indeed, Paul talks about how God’s power is made manifest in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), and how God empties Godself of power as force in order to be present as the alluring power of Love (Philippians 2:1-8). John Caputo is developing a theology based on the weakness of God (6). God is the Something that is present as the influential no-thing, for those who have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts that are open. God empties Godself of power as force, precisely by withdrawing into the future that is always coming toward us with new possibilities for higher order, new ways of being—more aligned with Love Itself.