Sunday Sermon: Asceticism

When someone says “Epicurean” what comes to mind? Usually, it’s hedonism – life spent in the pursuit of pleasure. If we were raised in a christian tradition, we might even hear “Epicurean” as slightly louche or sexually promiscuous. Epicureans, many of us think, are the sort who wear velvet smoking jackets and snort cocaine off the upturned buttocks of prostitutes.

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Deepities With a Side of Vat-Grown Beef

I’m not sure what the correct term for this is, perhaps “halo effect” or maybe it’s “transferrence” or just plain old “confirmation bias” but there’s a weird thing humans do, when they notice that someone is knowledgeable about X they sometimes get super impressed and assume that person is also knowledgeable about Y and maybe Z. I think it’s “confirmation bias” – but I’m skeptical of terminology in general.

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Monday Meslier: 4 – Of the Falsity of the Christian Religion

Jean Meslier Portrait

Jean Meslier

Let us proceed to the pretended visions and Divine Revelations, upon which our Christ-worshipers establish the truth and the certainty of their religion.

In order to give a just idea of it, I believe it is best to say in general, that they are such, that if any one should dare now to boast of similar ones, or wish to make them valued, he would certainly be regarded as a fool or a fanatic.

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A Retraction

In the past I have offered an argument that goes: “there’s no value to having power unless you intend to abuse it”  I’ve used various phrasings, but the obvious dependencies are on the definition of “power” and “abuse”   Well, I won’t be using that one any more.

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Sunday Sermon: Shooting Back

(Content Warning: war, death)

I’m going to begin today’s sermon with a transcript from a podcast I recently heard. It’s David Wood, speaking at Politics and Prose on “What Have We Done: The Moral Injury of Our Longest Wars.” Wood’s view is that wars can cause “Moral Injury” – a sort of post-traumatic stress disorder to our sense of right and wrong. The bit that stuck in my mind, which I went back and replayed and bookmarked, was an example that he gave – an example that is very typical of the experiences of many soldiers:

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Causality: The Path Forking Problem

forkingIt seems to me that humans don’t assess cause and effect very well; we had to invent the scientific method as a way of teasing out which causes of a particular effect are the important ones. That’s a comforting illusion for us, but causality is not a chain of events and causes, it’s more like a lattice-work stretching backward in time to the Big Bang. In practical terms, it doesn’t make much sense for us to answer “Why did the chicken cross the road?” with “The Big Bang” even though it’s true: we search for something we can pin it on immediately.

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