* Apparently about a thousand people are living in the sewers of Las Vegas.
* Ed Feser has been arguing for the standard natural law position on lying (that it is always wrong in some way, although, of course, that doesn't mean it's always gravely wrong):
Is it wrong to lie to HAL?
There is no Santa clause
The murderer at the door
What counts as a lie?
* Arsen had a good post recently about Baha'i.
* An argument that instead of using pi things would be simpler if we named a constant equal to 2 times pi.
* His recent post on Galileo and Kuhnian theory of science illustrates very clearly why lots of us cheered when Thony C finally started a blog.
* At "The Smith," Lee Faber looks at Scotus's arguments for divine simplicity.
* Montag discusses the Sharp Centre in Toronto. It is indeed a sight; I don't generally like architecture that tries to be 'modern' (usually a code word for 'chance for an idiot architect to pretend to be deep', and surpassed in awfulness only by 'postmodern', which is usually a code word for 'chance for an idiot architect to affirm brazenly that he is an idiot, and that this is somehow a good thing') rather than beautifully functional, but if you are going to do it, the Sharp Centre shows how you can make it a pleasant surprise rather than something horrifically ugly.
* If you want to know how to do it wrong, you can start with the 'deconstructionist' Graduate House at the University of Toronto, the only genius of which is that it manages to be at once ugly, odiously pretentious, and completely unimaginative. It is a building with no soul; walking past it, which I had the misfortune of doing all too many times, is like walking past an industrialized corpse. One of the signs that it is a horribly bad building is that all the pictures that one can find that try to make it look clever and impressive are at bizarre angles that simply are not true to life. Whoever designed the thing should be drug out into the street and shot. It makes for a significant contrast with something like the Sharp Centre, which is truly 'modern' in the sense that it draws its strength from its attention to what is just about the only thing we 'moderns' do well: playful whimsy.
* Kathleen Stock, Thoughts on the 'Paradox' of Fiction (PDF).
Sherri Irvin, The Pervasiveness of the Aesthetic in Ordinary Experience (PDF).
* Perhaps you've seen this graphic put out by Sam Harris's "Reason Project", supposedly detailing contradictions of the Bible. I actually love it; you could not ask for a better smoking-gun proof of the fact that there are significant numbers of atheists who lack basic reading skills (and, given how it has been received in certain parts of the atheist blogosphere, feel free to make convenient claims without looking at the supposed evidence). Here, for example, is "contradiction" 439: We have some verses (Ps. 9:11, Ps. 76:2, Joel 3:17, 21) that say that the Lord dwells in Zion. We also have some verses (Ps. 123:1 , Eccl. 5:2) that say that the Lord dwells in heaven. Contradiction! I have lots of atheist colleagues who could tell you immediately how stupid this supposed reductio is, so there is nothing about atheism that requires the deficiency of critical thinking skills involved in making it. But a lot of the 'contradictions' are like that. We have literally dozens of examples where the obvious problem is that the compiler of the chart shows that he doesn't have a grasp of what 'poetic expressions' and 'figures of speech' are. We have literally dozens of examples where something is claimed to be a contradiction that obviously is not ("contradiction" 201: Jn 14:26 says the Father will send the Paraclete in Jesus' name; Jn 15:26 says that Jesus will send the Paraclete from the Father). There are at least three cases where a supposed contradiction is blatantly listed twice (e.g., #7 and #9) and there are also cases where supposed contradictions are more subtly doubled (e.g., #11 and #207), either because they don't really care about putting together a decent case or else to puff up the list and make it look bigger than it is. There are many cases where basic language skills, particularly with regard to context, are clearly seen to be missing ("contradiction" 133: Acts 1 says that the author told Theophilus all that Jesus did, John 21 says that there aren't books enough in the world to describe all that Jesus did). There are cases where there is excellent reason to think we are dealing with an idiomatic expression (e.g. #3). When you winnow out all this chaff you are left with a handful of discrepancies, some of which may be due to copyist error (especially with regard to numbers), some of which may be due to the fact that we lack historical knowledge to see how the pieces actually fit together (especially with cases where there's a possibility that two references that seem to be to one event might actually be to two that only seem similar because of the way they are described), some of which may be due to ambiguities in translation or to semantic shifts. The result isn't going to intimidate anyone who has Bible study skills superior to the most extreme forms of KJV fundamentalism; rather, any Christian outside that group who does any sort of Bible study and who actually reads the list of contradictions is going to come out impressed at how, given their best shot to find contradictions, they came up with such an extraordinarily weak case. "Is that really the best they could do?" he or she will ask themselves in wonder. "Until now I never really grasped just how coherent this book compiled over a thousand years from radically divergent sources actually is." And then they will go and look at Chris Harrison's even cooler graphic and rejoice in their faith.
Roger Pears also has some comments.
As I've always said, Christians deserve more rational opponents than these fake rationalists.
* Rebecca recently had perhaps the best spam comment ever. (You can scroll down to see the comment itself.)