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Religion, Politics & Patronage: The Galileo Affair

Religion, Politics & Patronage: The Galileo Affair

By Alex Johnson ….
Galileo Galilei once said that, “There is no event in nature, not even the least that exists, such that it will ever be completely understood by theorists” (Drake 91). This is certainly true for natural phenomenon, even though they are constantly available to us for observation, but sadly, we find that this statement is often true of historical phenomenon as well, because they can only be observed through the surviving records. Despite this, or perhaps, in spite of this, we are in constant pursuit of an understanding of the past. The Galileo Affair is a prime example of this. Every facet of this event has fascinated historians and scholars of religion for almost 400 years. What happened? Why, and what does it all mean for us today?

Starving for God: Foodless Dieting For the Soul

Starving for God: Foodless Dieting For the Soul

By Joseph Rosenthal, Georgia State University…..
“Man shall not live by bread alone,” responds Jesus defiantly in the Gospel of Matthew (4:4) to Satan’s entreaty to break his forty-day fast. This phrase has been used variously by Christians throughout history as a tribute to the virtues of moderation and as a justification for some of the most extreme forms of asceticism. Dietary practice is the second most popular domain of religiously motivated self-denial, surpassed only by matters of sex and human intimacy. The diversity of rituals, laws, and red tape surrounding the consumption of food ranges from prohibitions of basic food types (e.g. shellfish, pork, alcohol, etc.) to extended periods of fasting. The religious preoccupation with what goes into the body goes well beyond hatred of gluttony, sometimes verging on total caloric restriction.

Prophets of the Environmental Apocalypse

Prophets of the Environmental Apocalypse

By Peter Laarman, Religion Dispatches…..
Twilight wars in the Middle East, Japan’s nuclear catastrophe, Deepwater Horizon, worldwide crop failures, massive die-offs of long-established species: it’s all so very scary. Looming over all of it is the idea that we foolish humans have triggered some deep-level physical processes (methane gas release, ocean acidification, etc.) that now possess an ominous life of their own. In these circumstances the word that slides naturally from the tongues of pundits is “apocalyptic.” It strikes many that we are now entering an apocalyptic scenario without precedent in recorded history.

The Most Important Discovery in the History of Archaeology

The Most Important Discovery in the History of Archaeology

By Joe Fernander, Religion Nerd….
Have you ever walked around a group of people and caught wind of their conversation? If you’re like most people, you have. Walking through a crowd of students at Georgia State University makes this activity all the more interesting. In one walk around campus you might hear stories of sex, betrayal, money and interestingly enough – Jesus. Today alone I was able to catch seven conversations that were clearly about Jesus and the Bible (not including the street evangelist or Gideon’s). It seems that no matter what religious tradition or worldview you follow, Jesus proves to be of some importance to your life; after all you do live in the year 2010 A.D.

Magical Thinking Is Crazy!

Magical Thinking Is Crazy!

A lot of people think magic and witchcraft is for hippies, crazies, or those who have been kidnapped by aliens. I would say to them, a lot of “normal” people are running around with some pretty cognitive dissonant ideas of their own (Birthers, for example. Or any politician. And Fundamentalists of every stripe). The problem for these people is I have facts and science to back up my beliefs, not just wishful thinking. Beliefs I am more than willing to change if contrary evidence and fact is provided.

The Burning Bush They’ll Buy, but Not ESP or Alien Abduction

The Burning Bush They’ll Buy, but Not ESP or Alien Abduction

By Mark Oppenheimer, New York Times
Practically anything goes at the American Academy of Religion’s annual conference, where scholars of dozens of religions convene annually to debate, relate and on occasion mate. Conversation ranges from the Talmud to tantra, from Platonism to Satanism. This year, from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 in Atlanta, nearly 5,000 people attended panels including “Seeking New Meanings of God and Dao” and “Madness, Smallpox, and Death in Tibet.”

The Pope's Astronomer:  In Conversation With Brother Guy Consolmagno

The Pope’s Astronomer: In Conversation With Brother Guy Consolmagno

The idea of a “split” between science and religion is a fairly modern one, mostly dating from the 19th century and the rise of professional scientists who were making a living independent of the Church. That’s why the Church specifically started funding an observatory, in 1891, to show the world that it supported science. Our duties at the observatory today are simply to “do good science” — we’re left to decide for ourselves what science to do — as a way of continuing to demonstrate that support.

Do Space Aliens Need Baptism? The View From Gliese 581g

Do Space Aliens Need Baptism? The View From Gliese 581g

By Paul Wallace, Religion Dispatches
What is generally less known is that, at the same moment that the Pope was having his say with the UK’s radical non-believers, Vatican astronomer Brother Guy Consolmagno, also in England, was busy talking about baptizing space aliens. Which, to me, sounded preposterous. But, after some contemplation, I’ve decided that it’s not preposterous after all.

Last week, a new planet—Gliese 581g—was