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This Week in World Religion 2018–06–03


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/06/03

“It’s a tough time to defend religion. Respect for it has diminished in almost every corner of modern life — not just among atheists and intellectuals, but among the wider public, too. And the next generation of young peoplelooks likely to be the most religiously unaffiliated demographic in recent memory.

There are good reasons for this discontent: continued revelations of abuse by priests and clerics, jihad campaigns against “infidels” and homegrown Christian hostility toward diversity and secular culture. This convergence of bad behavior and bad press has led many to echo the evolutionary biologist E. O. Wilson’s claim that “for the sake of human progress, the best thing we could possibly do would be to diminish, to the point of eliminating, religious faiths.”

Despite the very real problems with religion — and my own historical skepticism toward it — I don’t subscribe to that view. I would like to argue here, in fact, that we still need religion. Perhaps a story is a good way to begin.

One day, after pompously lecturing a class of undergraduates about the incoherence of monotheism, I was approached by a shy student. He nervously stuttered through a heartbreaking story, one that slowly unraveled my own convictions and assumptions about religion.”


“What is happening to Israelis’ respect for religion and tradition? While they might not be indicative of a larger trend, two recent videos raise our concern.

The first was a segment on the prime-time, hit Israeli satirical show Eretz Nehederet. The actor who impersonated Education Minister Naftali Bennett was shown wearing tefillin on his head that mimicked the ponytails of Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai.

While the skit might strike some as funny, the country’s religious leadership, as well as Prime Minister Benjamin Nentanyahu, did not appreciate the joke.

Netanyahu tweeted: “You don’t have to wear a kippa to understand the importance of our tradition and the future of our people. It is the essence of our existence. It is what distinguishes and strengthens us.

I am in favor of satire, but there are things you just don’t do.””


It’s a bold step indeed for Rouleur to mention religion and desire in the same edition. Maybe it’s some kind of resolution that involved alcohol. I considered the trouble I could get into on either subject and then decided: why not deal with both in one fell swoop?

You see, being born into Glasgow’s anguish with religion and a Presbyterian schooling that considered any desire as undesirable gives unique insight into the human condition.

Having stood on the blue side of the Ibrox terraces at Auld Firm football games as a youngster and listened to the abuse from Protestants directed at Catholics and vice versa could well have been all the education one needs in understanding belief, but luckily I had more — namely a great-grandmother who, despite not reaching the giddy height of five feet, was easily the fiercest woman I knew.

She was also a hallowed member of the Orange Order and was frequently seen marching the streets wearing a purple sash and carrying a great big shiny mace. These two items, I was told, meant she was important and got to be at the front of said marches. Apparently it meant she had faith too.”


“Millions of Americans will be braving long lines to see the new Star Wars movie Solo. Millions more will stay home to play Detroit: Beyond Human playing as androids seeking freedom from their human oppressors. Others might choose to watch Westworld to see the violent retribution of androids after years of mistreatment. Science fiction has recently gained new popularity in mainstream culture.

But does religion have a place in science fiction? And is the representation favorable? Usually not. Science fiction is a genre often asking philosophical questions, as what technology will exist in the future. It uses exaggeration to make issues of consciousness, morality, and the ties that bind society. One of the fundamental questions is the role of religion in society.

Several science fiction stories approach this by having characters meet their God. In Alien: Covenant, humans meet the alien species that created life on Earth. 2001: A Space Odyssey implies that human civilization only started with the intervention of an alien race.

Most of the time when they meet their makers, they are unimpressed. We are seen in the same way a child would see a pet goldfish, a forgettable pet or as a failed experiment. In Star Trek V, “god” turns out to be a trickster entity trying to infect the galaxy.””


“PETALING JAYA: Malaysians have voiced their say on the standoff over the Attorney-General’s post, urging that the right candidate be chosen regardless of race or religion.

The Star in its front-page on Sunday (June 3) reported that a proposal by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to appoint top lawyer and Constitutional law expert Tommy Thomas as the AG has sparked a major disagreement with the King.

Dr Mahathir is adamant about replacing Tan Sri Apandi Ali, submitting only Thomas’ name to Sultan Muhammad V.

However, the King insisted on more than one name, according to sources close to the royalty.

“The Constitution says Agong shall appoint the AG based on the advice of the PM. PM has advised. Now Agong should appoint,” he added.”



In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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