Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Psychology of Egypt and its Christians

The Middle East Forum offers a startling (because factual and accurate) report on the psychology of Egypt's majority regarding its tiny Coptic Christian minority. The analysis is applicable for much of the Middle East.

Here is an except:

Al-Awwa further charged that Egypt's security forces cannot enter the monasteries to investigate for weapons—an amazing assertion, considering that Coptic monasteries are not only at the mercy of the state, but are easy prey to Islamist and Bedouin attacks, with monks tortured and crucifixes spat upon. When the monks of an ancient desert monastery in Egypt tried to erect a fence to keep the Bedouin raiders out, the military destroyed it and opened fire on the monks, while shouting "Allahu Akbar!"
Read it here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mattingly on Fundamentalism

Terry Mattingly always provides thoughtful and insightful comments, and this week's submission,"Define fundamentalist, please", is no exception. Below is one excerpt to tease you along to read the full text.

The problem is that religious authorities — the voices journalists quote — keep pinning this label on others. Thus, one expert’s “evangelical” is another’s “fundamentalist.” For “progressive” Catholics, in other words, Pope Benedict XVI is a “fundamentalist” on sexuality.

Anyone who expects scholars to stand strong and defend a basic, historic definition will be disappointed. As philosopher Alvin Plantinga of the University of Notre Dame once quipped, among academics “fundamentalist” has become a “term of abuse or disapprobation” that most often resembles the casual semi-curse, “sumbitch.”
I expect brother Mattingly will be offering more on this topic in the future.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Of Gandalf and Darwin

Salvo Magazine has a very interesting and thought provoking discussion entitled, Gandalf on Mars: What Bleeping Codes Say About Intelligent Design by Richard W. Steven. It is rational, entertaining, and persuasive. Give it a go! (Its even got Turing machines!)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Of Trolleys and Trains


Consider the following thought experiment:

A trolley (a tram or a streetcar) is running out of control down a track. In its path are five people who have been tied to the track by a mad philosopher. Fortunately, you could flip a switch, which will lead the trolley down a different track to safety. Unfortunately, there is a single person tied to that track. Should you flip the switch or do nothing?

Of course, while one can argue either way, consider this one:

As before, a trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people. You are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by dropping a heavy weight in front of it. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to you - your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save five. Should you proceed?

Now go to MercatorNet and read A Streetcar Named Moral Confusion by Zac Alstin.

And while you're there, also check out Tactical Intimidation by Matthew J. Franck.