About Cory

Cory is a graduate student at Virginia Tech who studies algebraic geometry in the Department of Mathematics and network analysis at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute. He is an active member of the Freethinkers at Virginia Tech and takes particular interest in alternative sexualities, sustainable living, and coffee.

Tuesday evening: a faculty panel discussion on social science and religion

Tomorrow we host the Viewpoints on Social Science and Religion Panel! Here’s the scoop:
Tuesday, 4 March, 7:00pm (doors open at 6:30pm)
GLC Multipurpose Room

Five VT faculty, from a range of disciplines and spiritual backgrounds, will discuss their work, their worldviews, and how they come together. The panelists are

If you’ve ever wondered what religious and spiritual traditions on one hand, and the social sciences on the other, have to say about each other—how do the sciences inform religious practice? how does a spiritual outlook inform research? are they mutually reinforcing? are they in tension?—then come forth and participate in the exchange! We’ll have plenty of time for questions from attendees.

socialsciencepanelflier

This event was inspired by the Viewpoints on Science and Religion Panel.

If not secularism, then what?

Brian Britt delivered an enlightening talk at our meeting three weeks ago on, among other threads, the evolving interpretations of holy texts and the clash between dominant religious communities and institutional secularism that has become a mainstay of the Enlightenment.* Following a question from Zack at the Leopard discussion afterward, i’ve been wrestling with my own embrace and promotion of secular values—a core element of this club.

Here’s the dilemma Dr. Britt posed: In the hundreds of years since its inception, the secular agenda has failed to realize the hopes of its founders. Now, it may have been too much to hope for an end to religious strife or guidelines for the founding of happiness-maximizing societies. But to get the point across it’s enough to reflect on just how successfully the largest nation to codify secularism—the United States**—has overcome the religious intolerance that has defined it since inception. This failure, Dr. Britt argues, has ushered modernity into a post-secular phase.

This isn’t to say that secularism has been anything but an immense net good for modern societies. But it does seem to say that secularism will not be the final word on interfaith coexistence. Dr. Britt characterizes post-secularism by a defining problem: Religious strife and discrimination—which include the marginalization of the irreligious—require a solution. If not secularism, then what?

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a taste of denial

Denial of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) comes in a variety of flavors. While i’ve come across several taxonomies, the most elegant (and, so far as i know, the only one necessary) classifies AGW denialists into three camps:

  1. Global temperatures are not rising.
  2. Global temperatures are rising, but not because of human activity.
  3. Human activity is causing global temperatures to rise, but this is not a big problem / we can’t do anything about it.

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What is energy healing?

Acupuncture and moxing (Wikimedia Commons)

At last week’s meeting Zack Lewis discussed several varieties of energy healing, alternative therapies derived largely from Eastern traditions including reiki and acupuncture. Promoters of energy healing may invoke concepts from physics, from quantum mechanics to electromagnetism to energy itself, to suggest a scientific underpinning. Most claim, more directly, that their treatments have been validated, not just by testimonials but through clinical trials.

The clinical evidence for acupuncture and emotional freedom techniques, for example, show a pretty consistent trend in my view. But paralleling the question of evidence always seems to be a hidden question of definition. What, precisely, is being tested?

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