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Codswallop

Libertarian Ideology Is the Natural Enemy of Science by David Robert Grime.

Whether the issue is climate change, healthcare or gun control, libertarians are on a permanent collision course with evidence.

More here.

“Libertarian Ideology is the Natural Enemy of Science,” says The Guardian: Absolute Codswallop by Ronald Bailey.

Guardian columnist David Robert Grimes singles out advocates of property rights and free markets as a special menace to society largely because their supposedly greed blinds them to the scientific truths about climate change, gun control, and pharmaceutical research and development so evident to objective and fair-minded leftwingers. Of course, Grimes inconveniently overlooks the copious research that finds that left-wingers resort to motivated cognition too when it comes to evaluating distasteful scientific data. GMOs? Nuclear power? Fracking?

More here.

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Wahhabism

You Can’t Understand ISIS If You Don’t Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia by Alastair Crooke.

The dramatic arrival of Da’ish (ISIS) on the stage of Iraq has shocked many in the West. Many have been perplexed — and horrified — by its violence and its evident magnetism for Sunni youth. But more than this, they find Saudi Arabia’s ambivalence in the face of this manifestation both troubling and inexplicable, wondering, “Don’t the Saudis understand that ISIS threatens them, too?”

It appears — even now — that Saudi Arabia’s ruling elite is divided. Some applaud that ISIS is fighting Iranian Shiite “fire” with Sunni “fire”; that a new Sunni state is taking shape at the very heart of what they regard as a historical Sunni patrimony; and they are drawn by Da’ish’s strict Salafist ideology.

Other Saudis are more fearful, and recall the history of the revolt against Abd-al Aziz by the Wahhabist Ikhwan (Disclaimer: this Ikhwan has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwan — please note, all further references hereafter are to the Wahhabist Ikhwan, and not to the Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwan), but which nearly imploded Wahhabism and the al-Saud in the late 1920s.

Many Saudis are deeply disturbed by the radical doctrines of Da’ish (ISIS) — and are beginning to question some aspects of Saudi Arabia’s direction and discourse.

More.

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Pornland

Gail Dines has extensive excerpts from her book, Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, available here.

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Marriage

Marriage, Reason, and Religious Liberty: Much Ado About Sex, Nothing to Do with Race by Ryan T. Anderson.

Whatever one’s views of marriage and however the state defines it, there is no compelling state interest in forcing all citizens to facilitate, participate in, or celebrate a same-sex relationship as a marriage. Believing that marriage is the union of man and woman is a reasonable position held by many. Bans on interracial marriage, by contrast, were grossly unreasonable. Protecting religious liberty and the rights of conscience does not restrict anyone’s freedom to enter into whatever romantic partnerships he or she wishes. Americans should remain free to speak and act in the public square based on their belief that marriage is the union of a man and woman without fear of government penalty. No one should demand that government coerce others into celebrating their relationships.

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Moment

It’s Actually Time For A Constitutional Moment by D.C. McAllister.

For America to flourish, it doesn’t need a “libertarian moment” or even a conservative moment, with the latter’s emphasis on “traditional morality.” It needs libertarians and conservatives to come together to defeat their common enemy—radical utopian statists and their centralized, ever-expanding welfare state. If our liberties are to be protected, conservatives and libertarians must stand united on the principles of limited government.

What America needs is a “constitutional moment.”

The Founders, particularly James Madison, understood above all else the complexity of human nature. Men are not angels, but neither are they demons. Men are physical creatures with material needs, but they are also spiritual with an eye and obligation to the transcendent. Men are rational, but prone to appetites. Men are individuals, but made to be social, to live in community. Men are free to do as they wish, but they are not free to violate others’ rights. Men are self-interested, but they sometimes choose evil (even contrary to their own self-interest)—and that evil increases with an expansion of power.

More.

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Empathy

Against Empathy by Paul Bloom.

When asked what I am working on, I often say I am writing a book about empathy. People tend to smile and nod, and then I add, “I’m against it.” This usually gets an uncomfortable laugh.

This reaction surprised me at first, but I’ve come to realize that taking a position against empathy is like announcing that you hate kittens—a statement so outlandish it can only be a joke. And so I’ve learned to clarify, to explain that I am not against morality, compassion, kindness, love, being a good neighbor, doing the right thing, and making the world a better place. My claim is actually the opposite: if you want to be good and do good, empathy is a poor guide.

More at BR.

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ISIS

ISIS And The Virtue of Moral Clarity by Paul David Miller.

Michael Boyle, a professor at La Salle University and a good friend of mine, wrote in the New York Times last week of his concern over the demonization of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Calling ISIS “evil” or “barbaric”–as President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have recently done–is seductive, Boyle argues, because it “conveys a moral clarity” and it allows us to “separate ourselves…from the enemy.” Further, moralizing language “obscures the group’s strategic aims,” involves “gross simplifications,” and plays into the jihadists’ strategy of drawing us into mortal combat. Worst of all, it creates a powerful incentive towards mission creep: if we’re not careful, Boyle warns, we might even make the mistake of trying to defeat the group.

More.

Michael Boyle responds here.

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Interreligious

Interreligious Theology? by Peter Berger.

Though the official guardians of religious tradition have typically looked askance at the idea of interreligious dialogue, the practice of coming to terms intellectually with other faiths has a long and rich history.

More.

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Hamas

Hamas’s “Victory” by Bassam Tawil.

What is sad is that the Gazans have not yet been able to free themselves from the yoke of Hamas.

The world seems not to understand that Hamas, like ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood, does not exist in a vacuum. It is one cog in the radical Islamist wheel that threatens the Arab and Muslim world and the major cities of Europe.

The Western world also seems not to understand that it has to incapacitate or totally neutralize the countries funding terrorism, such as Iran, Qatar and Turkey, for whom the Palestinian problem is only a pretext on the way to destroying the Western world as we know it and replacing it with only Islam.

More.

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Multiverse?

Radical New Theory Could Kill the Multiverse Hypothesis by Natalie Wolchover.

Though galaxies look larger than atoms and elephants appear to outweigh ants, some physicists have begun to suspect that size differences are illusory. Perhaps the fundamental description of the universe does not include the concepts of “mass” and “length,” implying that at its core, nature lacks a sense of scale.

This little-explored idea, known as scale symmetry, constitutes a radical departure from long-standing assumptions about how elementary particles acquire their properties. But it has recently emerged as a common theme of numerous talks and papers by respected particle physicists. With their field stuck at a nasty impasse, the researchers have returned to the master equations that describe the known particles and their interactions, and are asking: What happens when you erase the terms in the equations having to do with mass and length?

More at Wired.

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Too Much?

Can You See Too Much Jesus in the Bible? by Kevin P. Emmert.

Throughout history, Christians have affirmed that Jesus is the focus of Scripture. But one Bible scholar is being forced to take early retirement by a conservative seminary for seeing too much Jesus in the Old Testament.

The Old Testament anticipates a Messiah—one who would fulfill the law and redeem Israel—and the New Testament presents Jesus as the fullness of God’s revelation. Evangelical scholars agree on that much. But they debate the extent to which the Old Testament—and which of its passages—can be read Christologically.

More at CT.

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Heresy

Huckabee and the Heresy of Americanism by Derek Rishmawy. See here.

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Pro-Hamas

A Pro-Hamas Left Emerges by Jeffrey Herf.

In the pursuit of political goals and an anti-Israel message, Historians Against the War has abandoned the standards of its profession and adopted a stance that objectively supports Hamas’s war aims.

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Divide

The Moral Divide Between Progressives and Traditionalists by James Kalb.

A recent account of moral sentiments, proposed by social psychologist Jonathan Haidt in his book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (Pantheon, 2012), has attracted attention for its explanation of the difference between progressives and traditionalists.

According to the account, moral judgments typically have to do with six dimensions of concern: care versus harm, fairness versus cheating, liberty versus oppression, loyalty versus betrayal, authority versus subversion, and sanctity versus degradation. Surveys show that progressives, by and large, are concerned with the care, fairness, and liberty dimensions, while traditionalists are concerned with all six. So it appears that the “culture wars” have to do with the moral status of loyalty, authority, and sanctity. Traditionally minded people accept them as morally important, while their more progressive fellows do not.

More.

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Frontiers

Psychology at the Theological Frontiers by Heather Looy.

This article is an invitation to dialogue about the foundational assumptions of North American psychology, and the implications of those assumptions in research and practice. Mainstream psychology uses a positivist notion of science to systematically study human experience and behavior. This “view from without” is a valuable means of obtaining certain kinds of information about ourselves. However, the unwillingness of many in the field to acknowledge the basic worldview assumptions that lead to the prioritizing of positivist science can limit and distort our human understanding. These problems include an extreme objectivism, bad reductions that leave out essential aspects of human experience, and decontextualized and individualized approaches to human distress. This type of science is also used to study religion and faith as variables rather than as foundational contexts, to push for a transhuman future, and to increase our disconnection with the natural world. Christians are called to make explicit, and where appropriate challenge, the foundational assumptions of psychology, to integrate the standard “view from without” methods with rigorous methods that take a “view from within,” and to reflect on the priorities of the field in light of Christian theology.

More. (pdf)

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Narcissism

Are You a Narcissist? by Katy Waldman.

The tricky psychiatric diagnosis is getting a lot of attention, which is exactly what it wants.

More at Slate.

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God’s Agents

This page has an excerpt from God’s Agents: Biblical Publicity in Contemporary England by Matthew Engelke.

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Alarming

Drugging Our Kids by Karen de Sá.

Children in California’s foster care system are prescribed unproven, risky medications at alarming rates.

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Decay

America in Decay by Francis Fukuyama.

The Sources of Political Dysfunction.

More at FA.

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Downgraded

Breakfast Downgraded From ‘Most Important Meal of the Day’ to ‘Meal’ by James Hamblin.

Today the pendulum of science defends breakfast skippers.

More at Atlantic.