How technology changes us

Some technologies lead to new forms of empowerment:

  • Writing: more than memory, longer than living memory.
  • Printing: yet more knowledge preserved and multiplied.
  • Telegraphy: fast messaging for many over distance.
  • Automobile: personal freedom of movement.
  • Xerography: everyone’s a publisher.
  • E-mail:  return of the pen-pal and frequent mail delivery worldwide.
  • Personal computers: unprecedented data management & secretarial services  within households.
  • Cell phone: instant person-to-person locating and updating.
  • Blogs: anyone can publish a magazine all over the world.
  • Discussion groups with pseudonyms: exchange views and establish trust between strangers.
  • Twitter: everyone her own telegrapher.
  • Transfer money by cell phone: economic lubricant in poor countries.
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Catholic Bishops’ report whitewashes Church

If you haven’t read Miranda Celeste’s analysis of the bishops’ report, read it here: “A Worthless and Dangerous Report“:

  • It was paid for by Catholic organizations, which had final approval on whether it could be published, thus ensuring that it would be slanted favourably to them
  • It considers only at priests who were caught rather than surveying Catholics to see who might have been molested without reporting it
  • It redefines paedophilia from the DSM definition of victims 13 and under to 10 and under, thus reducing the percentage of paedophiles among perpetrators from 73% to a ‘mere’ 22%,
  • It then complains that other media exaggerated by calling paedophilia a major part of the problem.

Physicists and ‘God’

What do physicists mean when they say ‘God’?

Physicists use ‘God’ as a metaphor more often than other scientists—- especially in popular writing, but in the technical literature as well. Of course, this is just a metaphor for order at the heart of confusion. A rational or aesthetic pattern underlying reality is far from a theistic God. — Tanner Edis, in Is Anybody Out There?

India experiences ‘gendercide’

Social conditions in India mean that, for many people, male infants are valued more than female. Boys stay at home, bring in dowries, work for the family, and take care of parents in their old age. Girls leave home, cost dowries, work for the husband’s family, and take care of the husband’s parents. And families always try to have the children that benefit them.

Working within those rules, families reduce the number of female children by selective abortion, covert infanticide, and starvation or other deadly neglect.

The proportion of females in among children is at an all-time low.

Of course, this leads to problems at marriageable age. Instead of scrapping the dowry and reworking social expectations, parents of boys will be buying kidnapped girls.

India rules that touting Astrology isn’t false advertising

The Register reports that the Bombay High Court ruled in February that astrologers can’t be prosecuted under India’s Drugs and Magical Remedies Act. As the register points out, that’s not the same as saying that astrology is a science.

You can read the act here.

Book: The Historical Evidence for Jesus

Book review:

In this thoroughly researched study, G.A.Wells has squarely faced the question of whether a man named Jesus lived, preached, healed, and died in Palestine during the early years of the first century of the Christian era – or indeed, at any time. Building on the biblical studies of Christian theologians, Dr.Wells soberly demonstrates that we have no reliable eyewitnesses to the events depicted in the New Testament. He publicizes a fact known to theological scholars but little-known in the average Christian congregation: that the order of books of the New Testament is not an accurate chronological arrangement. Indeed, Paul, who never saw Jesus, wrote his epistles to early Christian congregations before the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John were written. It may come as a great surprise to Christians and other monotheists, to agnostics, atheists, and humanists alike, that ‘the earliest references to the historical Jesus are so vague that it is not necessary to hold that he ever existed; the rise of Christianity can, from the undoubtedly historical antecedents, be explained quite well without him; and reasons can be given to show why, from about A.D. 80 or 90, Christians began to suppose that he had lived in Palestine about fifty years earlier’. “The Historical Evidence for Jesus” is not a frontal attack on Christians per se; rather it is an easily understood but scholarly examination of the evidence for many long-accepted notions about the ‘biography’ of the man called Jesus. This book takes up and quotes extensively from the Epistles and the Gospels of the New Testament, thus letting the evidence speak for itself in words familiar to every Bible reader. For example, Wells closely compares what Paul said about Jesus with what the author of Matthew, who lived later, wrote of him. Then he explains why these discrepancies apparently exist. Startling indeed is his proof that ‘earlier writers sometimes make statements which positively exclude the idea that Jesus worked miracles, delivered certain teachings, or suffered under Pilate’. There is also interesting material on the topics of Jesus’ supposed family, the so-called Shroud of Turin, and the myth-making that even today surrounds the figure of Jesus. Dr.Wells does not, however, attempt to demolish belief in God or the ethical precepts held by Christians. His presentation is always fair and couched in moderate tones.

Either George Albert Wells is digging deeper and deeper into the historical evidence (or lack thereof) and its implications, or he’s writing up the same material for different audiences.

Wells, the author o also wrote

There’s a progression of thought here,

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