Archive for December, 2013

December 31, 2013

2013 in review

by Neil Rickert

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

December 24, 2013

Alan Turing pardoned posthumously — this is way overdue

by Neil Rickert

Finally, an attempt to correct a gross injustice:

Far too little, far too late.  Still, it’s welcome.


December 23, 2013

Best wishes for the season

by Neil Rickert

Hmm, I haven’t posted for a while.  The end of semester, and exam grading happened to me.  And then I couldn’t make up my mind on exactly how to say what I wanted to say — I guess that’s a kind of writer’s block.  At this time of the year, you probably don’t want serious thinking.  So I’ll delay posting anything serious until the new year.

To all of you who are fundamentalist Christians:  Happy Holidays.  There, that should stoke up that Christian persecution complex that you so enjoy.

To everybody else:  Merry Christmas.  And if that offends you, then you need to get a life.

read more »

December 2, 2013

How a Christian sees atheism

by Neil Rickert

There’s probably a wide range of views about atheism among Christians.  This post is about the view that Frank Schaeffer has, as described in a video that he has posted on his blog.

Schaeffer is a former fundamentalist evangelical Christian, who has broken with that extreme view.  But he remains Christian.  I follow Shaeffer’s blog, because he has some good analysis of the role of evangelical Christianity in conservative politics.  His most recent post is:

where he describes an online course that he is offering.  The first video in the course is free, and is part of that post.  It is a little over 5 minutes in length, and worth watching to get a picture of what Schaeffer, and perhaps many other Christians think of atheism.

Almost entirely wrong

Schaeffer’s view does not even come close to resembling my understanding of atheism.  However, if his view is widespread, it does help us understand why Christians say some of the things they do about atheism.

Schaeffer begins by asking whether atheism is:

  • doubt about meaning in life;
  • a theological position cast in secular terms.

He seems to believe that both of those are true, while I think that neither is true.

It quickly becomes apparent that Schaeffer has a less critical take on agnosticism.  What he sees as agnosticism is closer to what I see as atheism.

Schaeffer goes on to mention music and the arts as things that atheists cannot explain.

It’s weird.  As far as I know, atheists make no special claims about music and art, and many of them have the same sort of enjoyment of music and art that Christians have.

I’m inclined to think that Schaeffer has confused atheism with the philosophy of reductive materialism, though even then I suspect that many reductive materialists would disagree with the picture that Schaeffer has painted.

Now go watch that short video, and see for yourself.