ANTI-THEISM: “Two Flaws Plague Unscientific Belief, from Trump and [White Supremacists,] to Religious Doctrine” / Big Think / Richard Dawkins ☮

What’s it like to be worshipped by [White Supremacists]? Not good, especially if you’re a passionate rationalist like Richard Dawkins. He was very recently accused of Islamophobia by KPFA radio—which is why some of the [White Supremacists] have flocked toward him—however Dawkins released a statement calling any alleged “abusive speech” by him preposterous, and clarified his views: “I have indeed strongly condemned the misogyny, homophobia, and violence of Islamism, of which Muslims—particularly Muslim women—are the prime victims. I make no apologies for denouncing those oppressive cruelties, and I will continue to do so.” Here he responds to how unpleasant it is to have your rational thoughts and your name hijacked by political extremists, and he expresses his disdain for President Trump’s policies, specifically the ‘Muslim ban’. With that as context, he proceeds to do what he does best: use science to investigate the idea of supernatural gods as the creators of the universe—which is a scientific hypothesis, he states, but one of the failed kind. Dawkins explains that we already have a superb theory of why living things have come into being—Darwinian evolution—and the evils that can come from too much faith. Richard Dawkins’ most recent book is Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist.

CHRONIC TRAMATIC ENCEPHALOPATHY: “For Ravens’ John Urschel, Playing in the N.F.L. No Longer Adds Up” ☮

One of the N.F.L.’s smartest players did the math and decided to retire after just three years in the league.

John Urschel, an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens who received much publicity for his off-season pursuit of a doctorate in math at M.I.T., told the team on Thursday that he was hanging up his cleats at 26.

Urschel’s agent, Jim Ivler, said Urschel was overwhelmed with interview requests but would not be speaking to the news media. On Twitter, Urschel wrote that “there is no big story here” and that the decision to retire was not an easy one to make, but “it was the right one for me.”

He added that he planned to return to school full time in the fall, “to take courses that are only offered in the fall semester” and spend time with his fiancée, who is expecting their first child in December.

Urschel’s decision came two days after the release of a study in which all but one of 111 brains of former N.F.L. players showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated hits to the head.

Continue reading . . .

HISTORY OF IDEAS: “Wabi-sabi” / The School of Life / Alain de Botton ☮

At the heart of Japanese philosophy and wisdom lies a concept called ‘wabi-sabi’; a term which denotes a commitment to the everyday, the melancholic, the somewhat broken and the imperfect. It’s a term we need a lot more of in our lives.

QUANTITATIVE SOCIAL SCIENCE: “Why There is No Way Back for Religion in the West” / TEDx Talks University of Essex / Andrew Henry ☮

Religion is in decline across the Western world. Whether measured by belonging, believing, participation in services, or how important it is felt to be, religion is losing ground. Society is being transformed, and the momentum appears to be unstoppable.

You might be asking yourself two questions. Is it actually true? And even if religion is currently losing ground, could things change in the future?

David is a quantitative social scientist with a background in demography. He serves on the executive committee of the European Values Study and is co-director of British Religion in Numbers (www.brin.ac.uk), an online centre for British data on religion that has received recognition as a British Academy Research Project. He serves on the editorial boards of the British Journal of Sociology and the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. With Mike Brewer, David directs the ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change (MiSoC). He is also Deputy Director of ISER.