Category Archives: spirituality

"Seriously, how can you not be an atheist?" Part 4

In my last post, I explained how I think the modern evolutionary picture of the universe cries out, at least to me, the existence of a mind behind it all. In this post, I want to suggest that the intelligibility of the universe is improbable enough that a reasonable response is to think that it was intended to be understood. Suppose I turn around one day in my kitchen and I see a mouse at the far end. I might like to get the mouse…

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"Seriously, how can you not be an atheist?" Part 3

Is there a personal intelligence behind all that we see? That's the focus of this post, my third. (The first is here; the second is here.) I think I agree with atheists in saying that the existence of the universe doesn't necessarily imply there's a creator behind it. Theists tend to like the watchmaker argument: if you found an old watch lying on the ground, picked it up and examined it carefully, seeing the marvelous intricacies of its mechanism, you would naturally ask, "Who made…

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Inner healing is sometimes J-shaped

Suppose your group really believes in being generous to others. And so you open up your house to visitors, have extra people at the table at meals, and likely have someone sleeping on your couch at night. Your friends always ask if they should pick you up because they know there's a good chance someone has borrowed your car. Your group is so warm and caring and welcoming and helpful that others find themselves wanting to be a part of it. People come who are…

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"Seriously, how can you not be an atheist?" Part 2

Like I said in Part 1 of this, the recounting of the experience of another human being can only be suggestive. Is what I perceive mere self-delusion, a strange artifact of a brain evolved for survival, or am I really touching an unseen reality? Also, while I have experienced for myself, and have trusted friends who have experienced highly improbable or even downright inexplicable things (for an example from my own life, see my post here), I know there's nothing I could possibly say a…

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"Seriously, how can you not be an atheist?" Part 1

When people hear that I have a PhD in mathematics, they often assume I'm an atheist. Indeed, in our society there is an inverse correlation between education and religious belief. Moreover, in many people's lives, there is a direct line of causation between the two. Commonly, sometime in adolescence, whatever religious explanation of the world they have grown up with is rejected in favour of a secular view, either in a commitment to outright atheism, or an agnosticism that leaves the question of the existence of…

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I should be dead

This all happened in Central Asia almost 20 years ago. There wasn't much choice at the long-distance taxi stand. Besides a couple of worn-looking Moskvitches there was also a clean, crisp Lada. Since the ride to the capital was already about five hours without trundling along at 70 km/h in a Moskvitch, the Lada was really the only option. And so we negotiated the price with the young driver, and away we went. He was clean, well-dressed, almost preppy looking. As we got started, he…

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Reflections on Wild, Wild Country

In case you haven't seen it, Wild, Wild Country is a captivating Netflix documentary series chronicling the rise and fall of the 1980's Oregon commune of the Baghwan Rajneesh. Spoiler alert! If you haven't watched it, you may wish to postpone reading this. Some unfolding tragedies are like World War 2. What with Hitler talking about neighbouring countries as lebensraum for the German people, it wasn't hard to see conflict approaching. Other stories are like World War 1. A Hapsburg royal is assassinated in Serbia, and 5 weeks later…

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