Perhaps heaven is littered with the disembodied, collective consciousness of Woolworth, Circuit City, Borders and Blockbuster. Similarly, it may be possible that Enron and Lehman Brothers, a little less fortunate due to the indiscretions of their leaders, have found their corporate souls to be forever tormented in business hell. And, what of the high tech start-ups that come and go in the beat of a hummingbird’s wing? Where are Webvan, Flooz, Gowalla, Beenz, Loopt, Kosmo, eToys and Pets.com? Are they spinning endlessly somewhere between the gluttons (third circle) and the heretics (sixth circle) in Dante’s concentric hell. And where are the venture capitalists and where will Burger King and Apple find themselves when they eventually pass to the other side?
Recent census figures from the United Kingdom show that Jedi is the seventh most popular faith overall, with just over 176,000 followers.
While this is down from a high of around 400,000 in the previous census (2001) it does suggest that George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars franchise, would still be a good stand-in for God in some parts of the U.K.
To learn more about Jediism point your browser here.
From the Telegraph:
The new figures reveal that the lightsabre-wielding disciples are only behind Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Buddhism in the popularity stakes, excluding non-religious people and people who did not answer.
Following a nationwide campaign, Jedi made it onto the 2001 census, with 390,127 people identifying themselves a decade ago as followers of the fictional Star Wars creed.
A court in Germany recently banned circumcision at birth for religious reasons. Quite understandably the court saw that this practice violates bodily integrity. Aside from being morally repugnant to many theists and non-believers alike, the practice inflicts pain. So, why do some religions continue to circumcise children?
A German court ruled on Tuesday that parents may not circumcise their sons at birth for religious reasons, because the procedure violates the child’s right to bodily integrity. Both Muslims and Jews circumcise their male children. Why is Christianity the only Abrahamic religion that doesn’t encourage circumcision?
May the Fourth was Star Wars Day. Why? Say, “May the Fourth” slowly while pretending to lisp slightly, and you’ll understand. Appropriately, Matt Cresswen over at the Guardian took this day to review the growing Jedi religion in the UK.
Would that make George Lucas God?
From the Guardian:
Today [May 4] is Star Wars Day, being May the Fourth. (Say the date slowly, several times.) Around the world, film buffs, storm troopers and Jedi are gathering to celebrate one of the greatest science fiction romps of all time. It would be easy to let the fan boys enjoy their day and be done with it. However, Jediism is a growing religion in the UK. Although the results of the 2001 census, in which 390,000 recipients stated their religion as Jedi, have been widely interpreted as a pop at the government, the UK does actually have serious Jedi.
Over the centuries many notable artists have painted religious scenes initiated or influenced by a very deep religious conviction; some painted to give voice to their own spirituality, others to mirror the faith of their time and community. However, others simply painted for fame or fortune, or both, or to remain in good stead with their wealthy patrons and landlords.
This bring us to another thoughtful article from Jonathan Jones over at the Guardian.
From the Guardian:
“To paint the things of Christ you must live with Christ,” said the 15th-century artist Fra Angelico. He knew what he was talking about – he was a Dominican monk of such exemplary virtue that in 1982 he was officially beatified by Pope John Paul II. He was also a truly great religious artist whose frescoes at San Marco in Florence have influenced modern artists such as Mark Rothko. But is all holy art that holy?
The tension between science, religion and politics that began several millennia ago continues unabated.
From ars technica:
In the US, science has become a bit of a political punching bag, with a number of presidential candidates accusing climatologists of fraud, even as state legislators seek to inject phony controversies into science classrooms. It’s enough to make one long for the good old days when science was universally respected. But did those days ever actually exist?
A new look at decades of survey data suggests that there was never a time when science was universally respected, but one political group in particular—conservative voters—has seen its confidence in science decline dramatically over the last 30 years.
Alain de Botton is a writer of book-length essays on love, travel, architecture and literature. In his latest book, Religion for Atheists, de Botton argues that while the supernatural claims of all religions are entirely false, religions still have important things to teach the secular world. An excerpt from the book below.
From the Wall Street Journal:
One of the losses that modern society feels most keenly is the loss of a sense of community. We tend to imagine that there once existed a degree of neighborliness that has been replaced by ruthless anonymity, by the pursuit of contact with one another primarily for individualistic ends: for financial gain, social advancement or romantic love.
theDiagonal has carried several recent articles (here and here) that paint atheists in the same category as serial killers and child molesters, particularly in the United States. Why are atheists so reviled?
A study by Will Gervais and Ara Norenzayanat at the University of British Columbia shows that it boils down to trust. Simply put, we are more likely to find someone to be trustworthy if we believe God is watching over us.
Interestingly, their research also showed that atheists are more likely to be found in greater numbers in a population governed by a stable government with a broad social safety-net. Political instability, it seems, drives more citizens to believe in God.
Aside from founding classical mechanics — think universal gravitation and laws of motion, laying the building blocks of calculus, and inventing the reflecting telescope Isaac Newton made time for spiritual pursuits. In fact, Newton was a highly religious individual (though a somewhat unorthodox Christian).
So, although Newton is best remembered for his monumental work, Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, he kept a lesser known, but no-less detailed journal of his sins while a freshman at Cambridge. A list of Newton’s most “heinous” self-confessed, moral failings follows below.
Led by the biologist Richard Dawkins, the author of “The God Delusion,” atheism has taken on a new life in popular religious debate. Dawkins’s brand of atheism is scientific in that it views the “God hypothesis” as obviously inadequate to the known facts. In particular, he employs the facts of evolution to challenge the need to postulate God as the designer of the universe. For atheists like Dawkins, belief in God is an intellectual mistake, and honest thinkers need simply to recognize this and move on from the silliness and abuses associated with religion.
Most believers, however, do not come to religion through philosophical arguments. Rather, their belief arises from their personal experiences of a spiritual world of meaning and values, with God as its center.
Some people claim that morality is dependent upon religion, that atheists cannot possibly be moral since god and morality are intertwined (well, in their minds). Unfortunately, this is one way that religious people dehumanise atheists who have a logical way of thinking about what constitutes moral social behaviour. More than simply being a (incorrect) definition in the Oxford dictionary, morality is actually the main subject of many philosophers’ intellectual lives. This video, the first of a multi-part series, begins this discussion by defining morality and then moving on to look at six hypothetical cultures’ and their beliefs.
theDiagonal is a personal blog by Mike Gerra, skeptic, technologist, psychologist, artist, humanist, collector of grand, eclectic ideas.
theDiagonal blog connects the dots across multiple disciplines for inquisitive, objective and critical thinkers, exploring the vertices of big science, disruptive innovation, global sustainability, illuminating literature and leftfield art. It is on this diagonal that creativity thrives, big ideas take flight and reason triumphs.