Random Links & Snippets #2

Sorry for the relative lack of activity around here lately. One reason is that I’ve been busy with some side jobs. I’ve also been reading a lot, and I do mean a lot. I’ve read over 20 books in the past two weeks. Recovering from a surgery provides ample time. Another reason is that I discovered an old friend; no, not booze, I’m talking about old-fashioned pen and paper. Up until a few years ago, I wrote exclusively on that medium. I would fill notebook after notebook of notes, snippets, stories, rants and whatever else came to mind. While I’m not going to get all high-and-mighty and go on a, “real writers use pen and paper” crusade, I will say there are very distinct differences between analog and digital medium, and I suggest that writers get the best of both worlds.

That said, in lieu of a “real post,” here are some interesting links I’ve come across in the past two weeks:

Joseph at lovemesomebooks reviews Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, which explains how the internet might actually be making us less intelligent, physiologically.

Courtesy of Victor Reppert, Archaeology and the Bible, parts 1 and 2. Part 2 was probably the single most persuasive rebuttal I’ve read to those who make variants of the claim, “Archaeology has falsified the Bible.”

Richard S. Hess, Ph.D., reviews Kenneth Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament.

In my experience, most of the comments at Debunking Christianity amount to partisan atheist rubbish, but a few commenters stand out from the crowd by having something intelligent and non-vitriolic to say. Adam Lewis is one of them, and he recently wrote on Why Religion Is Persuasive.

On a Google search for Psalm 34:8, I found this blog, which contained a link to this conversion story, which I think we all should read. The author tackles the problems of varying Bible interpretation with a critical mind, and details his experience with an in-depth chronology of his own personal beliefs. I found it fascinating, and, I’d imagine any (a)theist can find something of value therein.

Here is a link to the writings of the Apostolic Fathers.

Though it wasn’t to my article, John W. Loftus finally gave me a response that doesn’t amount to handwaving or snide denigration, here. Kudos to him. I have yet to respond, because, well… Debunking Christianity is, like I said: more casualties of the culture-wars as opposed to intelligent discussion. I’ll get back over there, though, as soon as I get in the mood. For me, commenting there is not unlike cleaning a toilet: something I’d rather not do, but, at the same time, something good to do.

From the Cornell University Library: “…fine-tuning data does not support the multiverse hypotheses.” Bayesian Considerations on the Multiverse Explanation of Cosmic Fine-Tuning [PDF 188KB].

Along these lines, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ponders Teleological Arguments for God’s Existence.

From Rick E. Berger, A Critical Examination of the Blackmore Psi Experiments.

Lastly, I enjoyed the following admonition from Karla.

7 Comments

  1. Ronin says:

    cl,

    Your second to last link is not working. Thanks for the links.

  2. cl says:

    Good catch. It works now. Thanks!

  3. Garren says:

    From Joseph’s lovemesomebooks blog post:

    he makes a compelling case that the new technologies have negatively affected our capacity for “deep reading,” and thus for deep thinking.

    After reading or trying to read so many philosophy books in the last year, I’m convinced that very few of them should be full books. Books don’t typically deserve “deep reading” beyond a few key passages.

    This is most easily seen in a form many philosophy and science books take:

    They spend the first third or half reviewing the state of the problem in a punchy, informative, and thought provoking way. When the author finally gets around to making his or her own point, the style changes dramatically. Rather than fully present the new contribution in the same style, everything becomes slow, hedging, and easily side-tracked.

    Take Bentham’s Principles of Morals and Legislation as a shining counter-example. That man had something to say and didn’t string readers along first. There’s no reason why details, implications, and tangential issues couldn’t be handled as a sort of appendix rather than the build-up.

    Readers may no longer be trying to squeeze the last drop out of books, but I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing.

  4. An excellent collection of links. Also, nice job getting a serious response out of Loftus.

  5. cl says:

    Garren,

    There’s no reason why details, implications, and tangential issues couldn’t be handled as a sort of appendix rather than the build-up.

    I’m definitely with you there, and I agree that many a poor-written book exists. I took Joseph’s criticism to be more a concern for deep thinking in general. The internet tends to erode people’s patience to the point where they don’t want to even read a printed page at all anymore. Younger people, especially, seem far less interested in reading. People are so spoiled from Twitter, Facebook, etc. that they seem to prefer soundbites. Are there instances where soundbites and snippets can effectively accomplish the job? Sure, but I think Joseph’s concern is that we’re becoming a society of soundbites and snippets. Those “Bing” search-engine overload commercials come to mind.

    I will definitely keep your comment in mind as I cobble my next book together. I want it to be under 200 pages, yet, without a wasted word.

    Yochanan Schloftus

    Have you some reviews of Loftus?

  6. Garren says:

    cl,

    Let me know if you want feedback on the book in progress.

  7. cl says:

    Garren,

    Will do. Much obliged.

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