Rogue Scholar Posts

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Published in Quintessence of Dust
Author Stephen Matheson

For five years through 2018, our humanist community, the Humanist Hub*, met every Sunday afternoon at our suite in Harvard Square for fellowship, music, and a speaker. Our advisory board included luminaries of humanism such as Rebecca Goldstein, Steven Pinker, and Dan Dennett. These friends of the organization regularly spoke at Humanist Hub events.

Published in Quintessence of Dust
Author Stephen Matheson

A few days ago I wrote about scientific thinking as an antidote to intuition. Not just an alternative to it, but something like the opposite of intuition. The intentional, energy-consuming move to a systematic deliberative mode of thought is utterly different from the easy and instantaneous nature of intuition.

Published in Quintessence of Dust
Author Stephen Matheson

That's one of two epigraphs at the beginning of Chapter 6 of From Extraterrestrials to Animal Minds: Six Myths of Evolution , "The Myth of Extraterrestrials," by Simon Conway Morris. It seemed odd to me when I started reading the book, but it makes some sense now that I've made it to the end.

Published in Quintessence of Dust
Author Stephen Matheson

Bardolatry has been a cornerstone of Quintessence of Dust since I conceived it. I love the plays, sure, but there's always been something else going on. "Jane Anger"Shakespeare is one of those extraordinary phenomena that tempts us to seek extraordinary explanations. Like Harold Bloom, I think of the mystery as essentially unsolvable — Shakespeare is impossible.

Published in Quintessence of Dust
Author Stephen Matheson

My first post on John Farrell's The Day Without Yesterday identified two themes the book raises for me: the intellectual milieu into which modern cosmology came to be, and the reasons why Georges Lemaître was able to "lead Einstein and the rest of his generation into a new, truly dynamic model of the universe." (p. 53) The second post looked at the intellectual environment and ended like this: This question is

Published in Quintessence of Dust
Author Stephen Matheson

In my first post on John Farrell's The Day Without Yesterday , I identified two themes the book raises for me: the intellectual milieu into which modern cosmology came to be, and the reasons why Georges Lemaître was able to "lead Einstein and the rest of his generation into a new, truly dynamic model of the universe." (p. 53) Let's look at that milieu.

Published in Quintessence of Dust
Author Stephen Matheson

Let's start with full disclosure. John Farrell is a good friend, and we met here at Quintessence of Dust more than 15 years ago . John was one of the first people to read and comment on (and link to) the blog. We share many passions: science, faith/science interactions, writing, the Boston Red Sox, Shakespeare, and Harvard Square.

Published in Quintessence of Dust
Author Stephen Matheson

Christian unity is not something to take lightly. Famous biblical proof texts urge us to pursue it. Basic theological commitments establish it as a primary goal of believers. Basic human nature would seem to drive us to seek solidarity with those who share fundamental beliefs.

Published in Quintessence of Dust
Author Stephen Matheson

So is evolution a weapon of unbelief, empowering the dark forces of atheism in their assault on Christendom by air, land and sea? It's sure easy to hear the dogs of war howling in the background of the weird debate over whether the NCSE is biased toward belief. I don't have time to post my thoughts on that debate right now.