Pinker’s “Enlightenment Now”: Humanism and scientific progress

Introduction

Many have read books and articles by renowned Harvard social scientist Steven Pinker. In his 2011 book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, Pinker cited a huge amount of historical and sociological data to conclude, counter-intuitively to many, that violence has declined “at the scale of millennia, centuries, decades, and

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Do probability arguments refute evolution?

Introduction

Both traditional creationists and intelligent design writers have invoked probability arguments in criticisms of biological evolution. They argue that certain features of biology are so fantastically improbable that they could never have been produced by a purely natural, “random” process, even assuming the billions of years of history asserted by geologists and astronomers.

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What was the ancient biblical cosmology?

Introduction

Much of the perceived conflict between science and religion centers on how one should view the Bible’s account of creation. The vast majority of scientists and theologians are willing to accept the fact that the Bible was never intended to be read primarily or even secondarily as a scientific text, and even among those

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Does a sense of purpose improve one’s health?

Serving food at an aid center.

Introduction

Recently several writers have attacked religious belief as a pernicious delusion [Dawkins2006; Dennett2006; Harris2006; Hitchens2007; Stenger2008]. Victor Stenger, for example, specifically rejects claims that there are any health or social benefits from religious beliefs or participation.

Other writers sharply disagree, noting benefits bestowed by religion throughout history

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The future of artificial intelligence: Utopia or dystopia?

MIT cosmologist Max Tegmark is no stranger to controversy. In his 2014 book Our Mathematical Universe, Tegmark proposed that our universe and everything in it are merely mathematical structures operating according to certain rules of logic. He argued that this hypothesis answers Stephen Hawking’s question “What breathes fire into the equations?” — there is no

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Fine tuning and Fermi’s paradox

A “freakishly” fine-tuned universe

Ever since the time of Copernicus, the overriding worldview of scientific discovery has been that there is nothing special about Earth and humanity: the Earth is not the center of the solar system — we are merely one of several planets orbiting the Sun; the Sun is not the center of

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Can there be harmony between science and religion?

Introduction

The progress of modern science over the past few decades is nothing short of astounding. Just in the past 50 years, science has unlocked the code of life and read the complete DNA of many organisms (including humans), traced the history of the known universe back to nearly the big bang, and discovered a

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Does a secular worldview lead to greater rejection of pseudoscience?

Introduction

In Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion (pg. 23-24), he asks us to imagine “a world with no religion … no suicide bombers, no 9/11 no 7/7, no Crusades, no witch-hunts, no Gunpowder Plot, no Indian partition, no Israeli/Palestinian wars, no Serb/Croat/Muslim massacres, no persecution of Jews as ‘Christ-killers,’ no Northern Ireland ‘troubles,’ no

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Are Hollywood stars qualified to comment on science?

Hollywood stars as public spokespersons

Nowadays it is not at all unusual for Hollywood stars to lend their public celebrity status to endorse or promote some cause. For example, Angelina Jolie has lent her name and support to international efforts dealing with the refugee crisis. Sean Penn personally assisted efforts to deal with the Haiti

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Exoplanets, 4 billion-year-old life, Fermi’s paradox and zero-one laws

What do exoplanets, four-billion-year-old life, Fermi’s paradox and zero-one laws of probability theory have to do with each other? Quite a bit, actually. Let us review these developments, one by one:

New exoplanet discoveries

Depiction of the seven exoplanets of the TRAPPIST-1 system. Courtesy NASA.

On 22 February 2017, a consortium of NASA and European

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