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I was an Atheist Until I Read “The Lord of the Rings”

lotr

I grew up in a loving, comfortable atheist household of professional scientists. My dad was a lapsed Catholic, and my mom was a lapsed Lutheran. From the time that I could think rationally on the subject, I did not believe in God. God was an imaginary being for which there was no proof. At best, God was a fantasy for half-witted people to compensate their ignorance and make themselves feel better about their own mortality. At worst, God was a perverse delusion responsible for most of the... Read More

The Philosophical Landscape of “Westworld”

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At the halfway point of HBO’s unsettling new series Westworld – a J.J. Abrams reboot of the 1973 film written and directed by Michael Crichton – some big plot questions remain. Is William a younger Man in Black? Is Bernard really a host? And what’s this maze all about? The premise of the show is (relatively) straightforward: In the distant future, scientists and businessmen collaborate to create a vast amusement park in the style of the Old West, populating it with artificially... Read More

The “3:10 to Yuma” Proof of God

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“Yeah, that's why I don't mess around with doing anything good, Dan. You do one good deed for somebody...I imagine it's habit-forming. Something decent. See that grateful look in their eyes, imagine it makes you feel like Christ Hisself.” – Ben Wade “Virtue is not an act, but a disposition (a habit).” –Aristotle   Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft famously describes the “Bach argument for the existence of God,” wherein God’s existence is clearly posited by a) the... Read More

“Risen” and the Reality of the Resurrection

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When I saw the coming attractions for the new film Risen—which deals with a Roman tribune searching for the body of Jesus after reports of the resurrection—I thought that it would leave the audience in suspense, intrigued but unsure whether these reports were justified or not. I was surprised and delighted to discover that the movie is, in fact, robustly Christian and substantially faithful to the Biblical account of what transpired after the death of Jesus. My favorite scene shows... Read More

The Alien Nation of “Fargo”

Billy Bob Thornton in Fargo

Right before becoming hypnotized by a UFO in the middle of the road – a fatal error which puts him halfway through “self-actualizing” hairdresser Peggy Blumquist’s windshield – Rye Gerhardt, the youngest son of a North Dakota crime family, corners a judge in a waffle hut in a fledgling attempt at extortion. Before Gerhardt resorts to shooting everyone in sight, the judge sighs and explains why he’s wasting his time: “One day, the Devil came to God and said, ‘Let's make... Read More

René Girard and Unveiling the Mono-Myth

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René Girard, one of the most influential Catholic philosophers in the world, died last week at the age of 91. Born in Avignon and a member of the illustrious Academie Francaise, Girard nevertheless made his academic reputation in the United States, as a professor at Indiana University, Johns Hopkins University, and Stanford University. There are some thinkers that offer intriguing ideas and proposals, and there is a tiny handful of thinkers that manage to shake your world. Girard was... Read More

“The Martian” and Why Each Life Matters

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Ridley Scott’s The Martian is a splendidly told tale of survival and pluck, reminiscent of the novel Robinson Crusoe and the films Life of Pi and Castaway. In this case, the hero is Mark Watney, an astronaut on a mission to Mars who is left behind by his crewmates when he is presumed dead after being lost during a devastating storm. Through sheer determination and an extraordinary application of his scientific know-how, Watney manages to survive. For example, realizing that his food... Read More

Why You Should Do Something Today Other than Read this Blog

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Filed under Culture

Computer

If you’ve ever taken a walk in a suburban neighborhood on a pleasant fall or summer evening, an amazing sight is almost certain to greet your eyes. As you stroll along the streets of Suburbia, USA you’ll become aware of the astounding reality that you are almost entirely alone on the street as you walk. Further, as the sun sets, the glow of another light source starts to become more noticeable. You will see waves and flashes of multicolored light streaming forth from the living room... Read More

The Existential Classic Behind Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man”

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Irrational Man, the 45th film from the prolific Woody Allen, starts Joaquin Phoenix as Abe Lucas, a philosophy professor in a small town undergoing an “existential crisis.” You suffer from despair,” Emma Stone (who plays one of his students) tells him – and it appears she’s right. The professor has a drinking problem, suffers from “dizziness and anxiety,” and is tormented by a quest to commit a “meaningful act.” Early reviews suggest that Irrational Man will go the way... Read More

Why Science Hasn’t Disproved Free Will: A Review of Alfred Mele’s “Free”

Free-book

In his Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein complained that “in psychology there are experimental methods and conceptual confusion.” What he meant is that academic psychologists too often interpret empirical evidence in light of unexamined and dubious metaphysical assumptions. What is presented as good science is really just bad philosophy. The recent spate of neuroscientific and psychological literature claiming to show that free will is an illusion provides a case in... Read More

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