commentaries

Viet Nam: A Personal Retrospective

Viet Nam: A Personal Retrospective

We were so young. We were told we had to stop communist governments from taking over all of Asia by defeating them in what was then South Vietnam. China supported the communist North Vietnamese government. The United States supported the capitalist South. I spent the...

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We Evolve Together

We Evolve Together

Evolution is often understood as life-and-death competition between and among organisms where the “fittest” ones survive. That way of thinking rings true in a profound way, but it often creates a misunderstanding of how evolution actually works. We don’t survive and...

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Merchandizing Evolution

Merchandizing Evolution

Evolution may have a difficult time finding its rightful place in school curricula in the United States, but it certainly has established its presence in the commercial marketplace. Retail stores use iconic evolutionary concepts like these to attract customers. At gut...

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The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon

In a moment that would surely rankle Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, one of the fictional elders in the smash hit Broadway musical The Book of Mormon, exclaims, “We’re not Christians. We’re Mormons!” But the point of the play is not simply to ridicule...

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Not of this World?

Not of this World?

It represents the “Not of this World” subculture of religious fanatics who take it upon themselves to announce to commoners like us they are just a bit too good for life on Earth. They’re going to heaven and you probably aren’t. Poor things are stuck here on Earth....

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Understanding Social Darwinism

Understanding Social Darwinism

In the middle of the partisan fight over the federal budget last year, President Barack Obama criticized the Republican’s “attempt to impose a radical vision” as “thinly veiled social Darwinism.” And in a recent show, Jon Stewart referred negatively to the idea of...

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The Greatest Story Ever Told

The Greatest Story Ever Told

A belief system becomes influential when it is communicated persuasively to others. In the case of religious communication, grand narratives passed from generation to generation turn the abstract God into particular beliefs and cultural practices that bridge the gap...

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The Sunday Assembly

The Sunday Assembly

Religion gives people a sense of community. That communal feeling is particularly comforting because we survive in groups. And not just us. Over time, advanced species of all kinds form groups to insure the safety and security of individual members. That’s one...

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The Apes are back!

The Apes are back!

The blockbuster film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes continues the brilliant story begun in Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011. In the earlier film, a chimpanzee named Caesar leads a revolution of apes kept in cages and abused as experimental subjects. In the...

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Knowing Patagonia

Knowing Patagonia

On his trip around the world in the 1830s as a naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle, Charles Darwin was particularly impressed by what he saw in the southernmost region of South America, the area known as Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. I traveled much of the same...

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Nightwish!

Nightwish!

The last line of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species goes like this: “From so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been and are being evolved.” Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution revolutionized natural science. Only the most...

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Cave Art

Cave Art

Cave Art - Earliest Symbolic Communication Our ancestors immigrated to Europe from Africa more than 50,000 years ago. They created some of our species' earliest symbolic art on the walls of caves throughout the continent. Much of that remarkable art was discovered on...

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