Richard Dawkins, bestselling author and the world’s most celebrated evolutionary biologist, has spent his career elucidating the many wonders of science. Here, he takes a broader approach and uses his unrivaled explanatory powers to illuminate the ways in which the world really works. Filled with clever thought experiments and jaw-dropping facts, The Magic of Reality explains a stunningly wide range of natural phenomena: How old is the universe? Why do the continents look like disconnected pieces of a jigsaw puzzle? What causes tsunamis? Why are there so many kinds of plants and animals? Who was the first man, or woman? Starting with the magical, mythical explanations for the wonders of nature, Dawkins reveals the exhilarating scientific truths behind these occurrences. This is a page-turning detective story that not only mines all the sciences for its clues but primes the reader to think like a scientist as well.
The story has gone viral: A group got together at Applebees. When the tab came the minister wrote on the ticket, “I give God 10 percent, why should I give you 18?” She scratched through the automatic large-group tip and substituted a fat zero and signed it with the word “Pastor” in front of her name. The waitress posted an image on Reddit. The pastor called to complain. The waitress got fired. The internet went wild. Last I saw, one story had 80,000 comments and counting.
In reality, the pastor simply exposed something that is all too common to Christian thinking: the sense that giving to the church and to religious charities is the be-all and end all of generosity. As indignant reactions to the Applebee’s incident show, service workers sometimes pay the price:
Continue reading at AlterNet
In comparison to other Scientology churches, things for all the celebrities at the Los Angeles Celebrity Center were over-the-top in terms of elegance and privacy, starting with their own separate double-gated entrance on the corner of Franklin and Bronson Avenues, and a special area in the underground parking garage that was monitored by security. Celebrities entered through the President’s Office, which had its own lobby, Purif delivery area, and private office space. Upstairs were two auditing rooms and a private course room to be used solely by celebrities and other people of importance, such as big donors to the Church.
Scientology defined celebrities as anyone influential, so it could be well-recognized names like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, but it could also be someone like Craig Jensen, CEO of Condusiv Technologies, and Scientology’s biggest donor, or Izzy Chait, a prominent Beverly Hills art dealer. The security for the celebrities was very tight but deliberately inconspicuous, so that a big celebrity could literally be on services and most people at the Center would never know he was there.
Continue reading at Slate
One of the few prominent scientists today to have crossed the chasm between science and popular culture, Krauss describes the staggeringly beautiful experimental observations and mind-bending new theories that demonstrate not only can something arise from nothing, something will always arise from nothing. With a new preface about the significance of the discovery of the Higgs particle, A Universe from Nothing uses Krauss’s characteristic wry humor and wonderfully clear explanations to take us back to the beginning of the beginning, presenting the most recent evidence for how our universe evolved—and the implications for how it’s going to end.
Provocative, challenging, and delightfully readable, this is a game-changing look at the most basic underpinning of existence and a powerful antidote to outmoded philosophical, religious, and scientific thinking.
In this stunningly intelligent book, Karen Armstrong, one of Britain’s foremost commentators on religious affairs, traces the history of how men and women have perceived and experienced God, from the time of Abraham to the present. From classical philosophy and medieval mysticism to the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the modern age of skepticism, Karen Armstrong performs the near miracle of distilling the intellectual history of monotheism into one superbly readable volume, destined to take its place as a classic.
What do you get an atheist for Christmas?
Click the “Atheist’s Guide To Christmas” above, for more information or to buy it from Amazon
If you’re an atheist, you don’t believe in the three wise men, so this Christmas, we bring you not three, but forty-two wise men and women, bearing gifts of comedy, science, philosophy, the arts, and knowledge. What does it feel like to be born on Christmas day? How can you most effectively use lights to make your house visible from space? And where can you listen to the echoes of the Big Bang on December 25? The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas answers all these questions and more:
- Richard Dawkins tells an original Christmas story.
- Phil Plait fact-checks the Star of Bethlehem.
- Neal Pollack teaches his family a lesson on holiday spirit.
- Simon Singh offers a very special scientific experiment.
- Simon le Bon loses his faith (but keeps church music).
- AC Grayling explains how to have a truly happy Christmas.
Plus thirty-six other brilliant, funny, free-thinking pieces perfect for anyone who doesn’t think of holidays as holy days.