Atheism and Religion:
Greta Christina says that just because you don't think you can meditate isn't an excuse to never try it.
Seth at the The Thinking Atheist has a long discussion with his old Christian radio show producer.
The Friendly Atheist reports on Atheist Ireland trying to repeal blasphemy laws in the Irish Constitution and reports on a new study regarding religious demographics in America and whether the American public thinks one needs God to be moral. Here's a longer look at some of the information in the report.
Steve Shives has started a new “Atheist Reads...” series examining the book by Josh McDowell, “Evidence that Demands a Verdict.” If you didn't see the last series on “I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist,” you should check it out.
The BBC reveals the Wiki Edit Wars. Turns out most of those are religiously motivated.
If you didn't hear this week, the Vatican is giving plenary indulgences to people who follow along with World Youth Day in Brazil this year on social media sites. Jerry Conye gives his opinion as well as taking Andrew Brown of the Guardian to task.
“Moral Mondays” are taking part in North Carolina comprised mostly of religious progressives and moderates in protest to conservatives in the state running rampant with ideological bills.
Understanding People and Morality:
In This View of Life, author Michael Price discusses how understand human evolution can lead to a more moral society.
Professor Gary Olson relates empathy to neuroscience and culture.
A new study reveals what most of us learned non-conspiratists already know: homosexuality isn't contagious.
Archaeology and the Past:
PZ Meyers waxes poetic on a shell pendant that's 47,000 years old and made by Neandertals.
Construction workers in Brisbane, Australia find a slew of fossils from frogs, fish, plants, and even a crocodile dating back to 50 million years ago.
Conclusive proof showing that T. rex was a hunter not just a scavenger was found in the fossilized vertebra of a hadrosaur that had healed around a tooth that had broken off in it's body.
An ancient Mayan monument was recently found in Guatemala depicting the story of a 6th century ruler, “the Snake queen, Lady Ikoom,” and gives new information regarding the Wak dynasty. And National Geographic has some incredible pictures in regards to the Maya and cenotes.
Evolution and Genetics:
Pandoraviruses may make up a 4th branch of life. Only 7% of it's genome match anything in an existing database.
Scientists have been able to use a single gene to “turn off” an entire chromosome, which could one day lead to treatments of genetic disorders featuring extra chromosomes.
Anole lizards in the Caribbean give credence to the idea of “adaptive landscapes” where similar environments lead to similar convergences in evolution.
Mars and Space:
The collisions of neutron stars could be responsible for heavier elements like gold and platinum.
The Curiosity rover has unveiled clues to when the loss of atmosphere on Mars occurred. Another satellite being built to be sent to Mars, MAVEN, will take measurements of the Martian atmosphere to help model how it has disappeared over time.
The ESA and NASA are both preparing to launch new satellites that use laser communication rather than radio waves.
Science and Technology:
New information on how insects control limb movement without muscles has applications for robots and prosthetics.
Acoustic levitation! You should watch the video of them combining water and sodium.
A new surgical knife has been created to help surgeons know if they are cutting into cancerous or healthy tissue by using a spectrometer on the smoke given off by the incision.
A lab experiment started in 1944 has proven that pitch has 2,000,000 times the viscosity of honey.
On a Lighter Note:
If you haven't heard of “The Infinite Monkey Cage,” a radio show blending comedy and science, then you're missing out.
(Thanks to Reg the Fronkey Farmer for a few links)
Here in Ireland I often wear T-shirts that could be considered blasphemous. So far I have not been arrested, even when I went into a police station to get a form signed. Are there any Gods I can mock or is it just yours that needs legal protection? My new ones read “Kneel down if you hate blasphemy” and “I blaspheme when you are not looking”. I keep them vague to make my day in court interesting. Excuse me your honor, but I won’t swear on that book will make for a fine start.
One of my favorite t-shirts has a Union Jack on it. Every 4th of July I wear it, and make a point to get out and socialize. I've been confronted about it several times, and some people, mainly the 'Muricans get really pissed off when I explain that the UK is more free than America is.
Excuse me your honor, but I won’t swear on that book will make for a fine start.
I would so totally do this.
The Cosmos video is "private". Oh well.
Well, damn. I'll leave it there in case they change it back. Found another link here. Nothing on the internet is private!
Here's an excellent site http://tibet.emory.edu/cbct/ and video http://tedxatlanta.com/videos/09132011-balance/charles-raison/ dealing with Cognitive-Based Compassion Training and its positive health and social effects. Why does practising compassion make us joyful? It seems that it's because of increased connectiveness with others and an optimum outcome for all concerned.
Thanks for the Michael E Price article about morality. It's always good to see what line someone else who studies it seriously, is taking. I disagree with him on some fundamental points, but he set me thinking all the same. Oh fuck, it's so complicated, I got lost, and I think he doesn't get much further on than anyone else. In real life, moral decisions are not this complicated, Michael.