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Shrikant Kalegaonkar
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A Virtual Issue of Articles by George Box (Free Access until December 31st, 2014)

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"Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?" -- Socrates asks Euthyphro in Plato's "Euthyphro"

In "The Bonobo and the Atheist", Frans de Waal argues that the source of our morality is not religion. Morality is much older. It arose with life. It has been built into it. So much so that it is seen in apes, monkeys, canids (dogs), whales, and dolphins. Morality isn't an exclusively human trait.

I found de Waal's explanation compelling and uplifting. At this time when there is such confused, often heated, disagreements over what religion is and what role it should play, it is reassuring to know that nature has built in several backstops to prevent us from complete devolution into anarchy. de Waal's style in making his points is warm, not confrontational. That made them more compelling than the abrasive condescending approach of neo-atheists like Dawkins or Hitchens.

To be clear, I am not a believer, but I do want to understand the role religion has played in our history. Why does it have such a strong grip on so many of us regardless of culture? I don't want to displace religion without having something else to take its place and serve the needs it has done up to now. The good news is many civic institutions are rising up to the task. I expect that trend to continue into the future freeing us from the need to believe in something supernatural.

I enjoyed the book. I agree with de Waal's message. But, I didn't think it was as fun to read as Robert Wright's "The Moral Animal". Still, I would recommend it for you to check out. I would love to hear what you think :)

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"In many patriarchal societies and tribal societies fathers are usually known by their sons, but I'm one of the few fathers who is known by his daughter."

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One more step in confirming the Big Bang theory and the expanding universe.

Last night's The Daily Show was outstanding. If you missed it, go to the website and watch it.

Seriously, watch it.

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GM chose not to implement a fix for ignition problem

Engineers at General Motors found a way to stop ignition switches from shutting off nine years ago, but made a “business decision” not to order the partial fix to a problem that has now been linked to a dozen deaths, NBC News has learned.

Read more: http://nbcnews.to/1fWlU19
Photo: Lance Cooper
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Love the imagination :)

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Every religion I've been exposed to is steeped in rituals and traditions that reach deep into history. I have no doubt that the various beliefs came to be with purpose. They solved a particular problem of the time. They were useful and brought tangible benefits. We carry them on now because we believe they worked in the past and that they will continue to work now and into the future.

What we fail to recognize is that the world is not static. The context for a given ritual or tradition has changed. Reality is like a slow boiling cauldron. Looking in, you think you have identified the surface of the liquid. It looks about the same from moment to moment but it is perpetually bubbling, always shifting. You need to be aware of its shifts and match them to stay on top. The Buddha had this insight 2500+ years ago: all things are conditionally arisen. Our actions need to meet the present reality.

The irony is that while the Buddha's teachings questioned the validity of rituals and traditions of other religions of his time, Buddhism itself has became steeped in rituals and traditions over the ages. In "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist" Stephen Batchelor shares his experience of them with Tibetan and Zen Buddhism; his disillusionment with both, and his personal journey to find the historical man that came to be called the Buddha. Along the way he identifies what he believes were the Buddha's core teachings.

I found the book very readable. I was sympathetic to Batchelor's story and I gained from his insights.

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The Best Mind Since Einstein - Richard Feynman Biography (PBS: NOVA - 1993) http://youtu.be/UlhInhfF3cc
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