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Matt J. Rossano

Entries by Matt J. Rossano

Evolution: Is God Just Playing Dice?

(382) Comments | Posted October 3, 2011 | 12:06 PM

"Reply the tape a million times ... and I doubt that anything like Homo sapiens would ever evolve again" (Stephen Jay Gould from "Wonderful Life", 1989 p. 289, Harvard University Press.).

With his standard panache, the late Harvard paleontologist Stephen J. Gould argued strenuously that evolution had no inherent directionality....

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Did Secular Morality Shame Religion Into Condemning Slavery?

(533) Comments | Posted September 18, 2011 | 6:01 AM

Slavery's depravity is so obvious to us today that it obscures the collective mental conversion required to achieve this bit of moral clarity. This conversion entailed a titanic shift from seeing slavery as necessary for civilization (as the ancients believed) to seeing it as necessarily uncivilized. As one of humanity's...

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The Galileo Affair: Emblematic or Exceptional?

(114) Comments | Posted August 23, 2011 | 7:39 AM

On the morning of June 22, 1633 in the hall of the convent of Santa Maria sopra Minvera in Rome, Galileo Galilei knelt before the Lord-Cardinal Inquisitors-General and publicly abjured his false opinion that the sun was the motionless center of the universe. Thus ended Galileo's personal trials; but the...

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Creationism: That (Not So) Old Time Religion

(1275) Comments | Posted August 12, 2011 | 7:00 AM

I don't pay much attention to creationism for the same reason that I don't watch much television -- it's boring. Real science, history, philosophy, theology, etc., is far more interesting than an amateurish knockoff.

My inattentiveness has meant that until now I had only a vague notion of the...

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Should Evolutionists Be More Self-Critical About Social Darwinism?

(822) Comments | Posted July 20, 2011 | 9:53 AM

The celebrated Scopes "monkey trial" was an intriguing, convoluted affair, only generally reminiscent of Lawrence and Lee's famous stage play "Inherit the Wind." As popular mythology, it rightly highlights the folly of outlawing the teaching of legitimate scientific theories because they are perceived as threatening to religion (or any other...

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Are Infinities More Scientific Than God?

(135) Comments | Posted July 5, 2011 | 6:00 PM

Suppose you have some marbles rolling around randomly at the bottom of a box. Now take the box and tilt it so that the marbles roll to one corner. Jiggle a bit so that they come to rest in a reasonably stable pattern and, more than likely, some of the...

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The Christian Revolution

(51) Comments | Posted June 16, 2011 | 11:52 AM

"Stated in its most elementary and buoyantly positive form, my argument is ... that among all the many great transitions that have marked the evolution of Western civilization ... only one -- the triumph of Christianity ... can be called ... a 'revolution': a truly massive and epochal revision of...

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How to Make a Strong Atheist

(164) Comments | Posted June 7, 2011 | 11:09 AM

The good life breeds atheists. The good life and a little fear breed strong atheists.

In a recent issue of New Scientist (March 28), Oxford anthropologist Jonathan Lanman summarizes newly emerging research on the rise of atheism in the West. From the outset, Lanman makes clear that scientific research...

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The (Lack Of) Conflict Between Science and Religion in College Students

(449) Comments | Posted May 25, 2011 | 9:24 AM

Media-hungry atheist, creationist and religious fundamentalist provocateurs have successfully dominated the science and religion narrative for the past decade or so. In doing so, they have created the false impression of an ongoing unavoidable war between the two camps. A recently published large-scale survey of college students, however, finds that...

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Can You Be Good Without God?

(313) Comments | Posted May 6, 2011 | 2:18 PM

"You can be good without God" has become a popular slogan among campaigning atheists lately. As with most political slogans, close inspection reveals it to be a trivial assertion. Monotheism is a recent phenomenon in human history, having emerged only a few thousand years ago. Humans emerged either 200,000 or...

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Does Resurrection Contradict Science?

(1200) Comments | Posted April 14, 2011 | 9:14 PM

The scientific case against resurrection is pretty straightforward: once dead you stay dead -- that's just the way it works. Coming back to life after having been dead (I mean really dead) would constitute a violation of natural law -- a miracle -- and miracles just don't happen. Fair enough....

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Why Was Jesus Crucified?

(1071) Comments | Posted April 2, 2011 | 9:01 PM

Near the end of Ben Hur, as Judah Ben-Hur and Balthasar stand broken and weary at the feet of the crucified Jesus, Balthasar explains how in this act of self-sacrifice Jesus took upon himself the sins of all mankind. This may have been powerful moviemaking but it was terrible history....

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God And The Marketplace

(8) Comments | Posted March 24, 2011 | 8:15 AM

I wrote a check for ten pounds of boiled crawfish not too long ago, a common transaction in these parts when mudbugs are in season (you Northerners don't know what you're missing). What's remarkable about this exchange is the assumed degree of trust and fairness displayed by the total strangers...

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Whom Can I Trust? Understandng the Role of Religion in Sustaining Community

(4) Comments | Posted March 8, 2011 | 10:20 AM

Was religion an evolutionary adaptation? Those who say yes often argue that religion addressed a critical question central to human life: Whom can I trust?

As he watched the aggressive ritual dancing of the Tsembaga warriors of New Guinea, anthropologist Roy Rappaport concluded that ritual played a critical role...

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The Theological Dilemma of Medieval Neuroscience

(32) Comments | Posted February 19, 2011 | 9:59 AM

To casual observers the history of science goes something like this: Greek philosophers introduced the world to rational, naturalistic ways of thinking which freed us from superstition and myth. Sadly, the Roman Empire crumbled, Christianity replaced paganism, religious dogma replaced rationalism, and progress stagnated until about the 16th century when...

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Jesus the Healer

(33) Comments | Posted February 2, 2011 | 9:32 AM

For many, Gabrielle Giffords' recovery from an assassin's bullet has been nothing short of miraculous. Her case highlights how healing involves the spirit as much as medicine. For too long the role of the spirit in healing has been denigrated as nothing but a "placebo effect." But recent studies suggest...

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The Pope, The Environment and Religiously Inspired Self-Restraint

(31) Comments | Posted January 15, 2011 | 11:37 AM

The media's (all too predictable) obsession with Pope Benedict's recent "condom" comments has obscured other noteworthy aspects of his recently released book-length interview, Light of the World. German journalist Peter Seewald engages Benedict in an extensive exchange on the global ecological turmoil facing our planet. The Pope's responses...

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Alexander Hamilton's Religion: A Temperate Example For Today's Fractured World

(110) Comments | Posted January 3, 2011 | 6:35 PM

A few Christmases ago my family thought it advisable to expand my reading diet. Left to my own devices, the scientific and philosophic are my staples. To wit, Christmas morn, along with the ties and underwear, I was presented with Ron Chernow's 800-plus page biography, Alexander Hamilton (excellent book, by...

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Why the Birthplace of Jesus Matters

(379) Comments | Posted December 16, 2010 | 6:00 PM

For Matthew, Jesus' birth in Bethlehem was a necessity. For Luke, it was a necessary absurdity.

For the past 25 years or so, the "Third Wave" of historical Jesus scholarship has been in full swing. Scholars such as John Meier, John Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg, and Bart Ehrman have...

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Sacred Brands: Consumerism as Modern Religion

(80) Comments | Posted December 12, 2010 | 6:53 PM

The cover of Steve Bruce's book, God is Dead: Secularization in the West, features a busy West Yorkshire street corner where a shuttered church sports the sign "Mike's Carpets." An iconic metaphor for our times: Religion retreating in the face of a relentless consumerist onslaught. With increasing numbers...

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