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SKEPTIC MAGAZINE 20.3

Were there two Wallaces? The codiscoverer of natural selection also believed in “the unseen universe of Spirit.”

Learn more about Alfred Russel Wallace—seeker, believer, heretic, scientist, skeptic—in this special issue of Skeptic magazine.

Get it now, available digitally, via the Skeptic Magazine App for iOS, Android, BlackBerry PlayBook, Kindle Fire HD, Mac, PC, and Windows 8 devices. You can also pre-order the print issue from Shop Skeptic. This issue won’t likely hit newsstands for another week or two.

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JUNIOR SKEPTIC

Physically bound inside each and every issue of Skeptic magazine is Junior Skeptic: an engagingly illustrated science and critical thinking publication for younger readers (and the young at heart).

Bat-People on the Moon! (issue 56)

In this issue we’ll be talking about bat-people. And sheep. And unicorns. On the Moon! What’s that you say? The Moon obviously can’t have unicorns because it doesn’t even have air to breathe? Well, sure, that’s a good point. But what if I told you the world’s most popular newspaper once announced the discovery of these and many other fantastical lunar lifeforms? Moreover, people believed those claims. How on Earth were New York City newspaper readers taken in by a far-fetched fantasy about flying Moon-bats? Find out in this issue of Junior Skeptic!

Read table of contents
for Junior Skeptic # 56


MICHAEL SHERMER V. LARRY TAUNTON

September 30, 2015 at 7 PM
Benaroya Hall, Seattle
Tickets: 206-215-4747

Fixed Point Foundation, a non-profit based in Birmingham, Alabama, revives an age-old question in the form of a debate – Do we need God? Michael Shermer of Skeptic magazine and Larry Taunton of Fixed Point Foundation meet at Benaroya Hall on September 30 to address whether the concept of God is beneficial or detrimental to society.

Exploring the effects of the idea of God on humanity will bring these two participants to consider a variety of issues, including human suffering, morality, and meaning. With backgrounds in education and history, both Taunton and Shermer are well prepared to explore all of these topics, particularly as each relates to religion.

Larry Taunton

Larry Taunton, Founder and Executive Director of Fixed Point Foundation, is a cultural commentator, columnist, author, and regular contributor to The Atlantic and USA Today. He is a frequent television and radio guest, appearing on CNN, CNN International, Fox News, Al Jazeera America, and BBC. Taunton’s book, The Grace Effect, is a powerful and personal account of the effect one Christian can have on a spiritually dead culture. In it, he argues that without the Christian ideals of love, forgiveness, and grace, a society will quickly become the author of its own demise. According to Taunton, “Every meaningful movement in the history of the West has been fueled by Christianity… because they all appealed to a higher law.” God, he believes, is far from irrelevant. Download more biographical details (PDF).

Michael Shermer

Michael Shermer, taking an opposing stance, asserts that religion is largely to blame for some of the worst atrocities in human history. His latest book, The Moral Arc, maintains that science and reason will lead us to a virtuous and increasingly moral existence. According to Shermer, we are “getting better at solving problems” as we continue to evolve. A New York Times best-selling author, Shermer is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine and has written thirteen books. He is also a monthly columnist for Scientific American, regular contributor to Time.com, and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University. When he isn’t writing or teaching, he travels frequently to speak and debate on a variety of topics. Download more biographical details (PDF).

Those of the opinion that man has ‘outgrown’ a need for God, and those who think that God provides the very moral foundation on which our society is based are both ensured a thoughtful and spirited exchange.

Tickets

This event is organized by Fixed Point Foundation and sponsored by Summer Classics. Tickets are on sale now through the Benaroya Box Office by clicking the link below or by calling 206-215-4747 to purchase.

Buy tickets online

About Fixed Point Foundation

Fixed Point Foundation has been engaging the culture on significant and relevant issues since 2004. Unapologetically Christian, Fixed Point seeks innovative ways to stimulate conversation in the marketplace of ideas through a variety of mediums (articles, podcasts, radio, TV interviews, writing, speaking engagements, and debates, to name a few). Some of the topics addressed include radical Islam, the New Atheism, science vs. religion, gay marriage, and Intelligent Design.


Barbara Drescher
Resolving Conflicts in Findings: Vaccine Promotion is Tricky

Barbara Drescher discusses how to think about research findings that disagree.

Read the Insight

Daniel Loxton
The Problematic Process of Cryptozoologification

Daniel Loxton considers how fuzzy folkloric phenomena come to be crystallized as "cryptids."

Read the Insight


Donald Prothero
Future Climate Thoughts
SKEPTICALITY EPISODE 259

In this episode of Skepticality, Derek digs into a recording which he conducted in California in May at the Skeptics Society conference “In the Year 2525: Big Science, Big History, and the Far Future of Humanity”. Derek interviews Dr. Donald Prothero about the current state of the climate, how we know that humans are causing massive change, and what we might be able to do to help mitigate and, possibly, improve things going forward.

Skepticality (the Official Podcast App of Skeptic Magazine) is available on the App Store
Skepticality (the Official Podcast App of Skeptic Magazine) is available at Amazon for Android
Skepticality (the Official Podcast App of Skeptic Magazine) is available on Windows Store
8 Comments »

8 Comments

  1. xxxxxx says:

    Most modern “science” is mechanistic, based on avoiding of feelings and a pathological inability to trust one’s senses and emotions, the traits developed over millions of years to enable us to understand the world our senses show us. A truely scientific method would embrace emotions, values, and subjectivivity as well as objective evidence and replicable observations. So far, no such methodology exists.

    On the other hand, religion is mystical, avoiding direct experience of the world of the senses and filtering it through a distorting lens of attributing everything to distant gods, spirits, and devils.

    If mystical religion had not entered the scene, the Druids might have eventually developed a real science. But the so-called “science” of today remains stuck in the Christian religion from which it developed. An example is the evolution vs. creation debate, which seems so important to some on both sides. It never occurs to them that both are saying the same thing: that life formed at one time in the distant past and all living things alive today are descended from ancestors. They only disagree on the exact mechanism by which it formed. The commonplace observation that new living organisms are constantly forming de novo, from inorganic matter or dead organic matter, all around us in nature, undrer normal, everyday circumstances is dismissed because of the shared theories of creation and evolution to which both scientists and religionists subscribe.

    The science that has brought us nuclear weapons, torture of animals in labs under the guise of medical research, and the disasterous attempt to remake the genetic basis of life, has nothing of value or importance to say to anyone with any contact with life in his own body or in the world around him. And religion, which is behind that same science, and gave birth to most of it’s assumptions, is likewise irrelevant to understanding of the real world and how it works.

    • John Hodge says:

      I think the principles of science and the principles of life are the same. We are in one universe. We cannot unite Cosmology and quantum mechanics, but our goal is to just that. So we can include the principles of life into this quest also. I think I have thought of such a set of principles.

  2. Leo Stummer says:

    … not to mention what religion brought upon us in the last 2ky – or right now, e.g. in the Middle East.
    Anyway, why do religious people so often insist their guts should be science? After all, science is about evidence, objectivity,, reproducability, and the like. Lets make religion an art – and voilá – you have emotions, subjectivity,, “untangable” issues, … – and everyone could decide if she (or even he) likes it ot not.

  3. Bob Pease says:

    “A truely scientific method would embrace emotions, values, and subjectivivity as well as objective evidence and replicable observations”

    Is not this the commonly accepted definition of “PSEUDOSCIENCE” ??

    Pease’s Second Law

    “Anything labelled “TRUTH” will certainly contain more bullshit
    than something labelled ” Bullshit” “

  4. Bad Boy Scientist says:

    Wow. That first comment baffles me.

    Note that the feelings of a scientist are about as important as the feelings of a professional athlete. You do not get any points for how confident or ethical an athlete competes … OTOH: those intangible feelings are strong motivators and are (indirectly) responsible for many ‘4th quarter comebacks.’ Likewise, the feelings and intuitions of scientists have a lot of (indirect) influence on the individual scientist’s perseverance and approach to problems. Let us never forget: science is done by people.

    BUT we must never, ever forget that success of a theory comes not from the earnestness of the proposer – or their ethical character – rather it comes from comparing what it says should happen with what actually does happen. Many a theory crafted by an earnest, honorable and brilliant scientist has been invalidated – just like many games played by talented, dedicated and hard working athletes have been lost.

    That’s life.

  5. Dawit Tesfazghi Ghebrmedhin says:

    Shalom,
    All I know is that I know nothing.
    Nothing comes from /out of nothing.
    What came before formation as well as preexisting matter/material?
    first know thy self? but no one/ no body knows! but as for me I am who I am or I think so I am.

  6. John Hodge says:

    Science and religion cover a large range of knowledge. Both have the objective of advancing the survival of humanity. Some principles become popular and direct human actions. Different groups develop different fundamental principles. Wars between these groups and collapse of groups decide nature’s judgment of the principles. Progress in both of these spheres of knowledge is required. If God is removed from the thinking, both are the same type of problem solving.

    Science purports to work from observations. Models are developed and tested by predictions of observations. The range of knowledge is limited to what can be predicted. This is often deterministic. The tests are often of short time duration. Religion deals in morality and the test is the survival of the group. The test require generations to determine what set of morals competes better in nature. Because the test is very long by human standards, the morals are passed to the next generation by authority and repetition. But humans have a relatively short attention and goal spans. However, these morals are only trials in a very long-term trial-and-error quest. Accordingly, the human idea of a God and various rewards after death serve as a motivation to behave for the survival of the next several generations. I note the current humanitarian morals are unproven and may be destined for failure because the US is declining.

    I also note the morals for working in a group are different than fighting a war. The better soldier must kill. Civilians must cooperate. The morals for internal society cooperation are different from fighting a war. So soldiers from civilian life are trained to be a soldier, go to war, and come back with a major conflict in behavior standards called PTSD.

    The cooperation of males (and females) in large societies makes large societies. Yet, such cooperation is very rare in other species. Perhaps, Humans have developed a gene that allows males to cooperate with other males. When this gene is too strong, the male become homosexual. Homosexuality has been with us for millennia. It must have some value.

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