Back in 2012, Kyle Munkittrick claimed that the Mass Effect video game series was “the most important science fiction universe of our generation.” More: “Mass Effect is the first blockbuster franchise in the postmodern era to directly confront a godless, meaningless universe indifferent to humanity. Amid the entertaining game play, the interspecies romance, and entertaining characters, cosmological questions about the value of existence influence every decision.” It’s just a shame that the series ended so poorly and undermined much of this thematic exploration. Via
For decades now, technologists, philosophers, and writers have been forecasting the arrival of the “Singularity,” that moment when artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence and ushers in a new era of existence. Erik Sofge, however, argues that the Singularity is little more “a secular, [sci-fi]-based belief system” that ignores fundamental truths of how robotics, computers, and the human brain work.
Luke T. Harrington considers the the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches convening in 2025 for an ecumenical council: “…it would be an incredible witness to the world if one of Christianity’s largest, oldest, and deepest schisms could be healed.”
Adam Felder did an informal study on how comments affect readers’ perspectives, and the results are (not) shocking: “Respondents who saw comments evaluated the article as being of lower quality — an 8 percent difference. In other words, authors are judged not just by what they write, but by how people respond. The presence of comments did not make a statistically significant difference in a person's likelihood to read more content by the same author, nor did it make an appreciable difference in respondent self-reported mood.” Via
The good people at Treble have compiled a list of the “10 Essential Iceland Albums” which features the usual suspects (e.g., Björk, Sigur Rós) as well as some possible surprises (e.g., Blur, Julianna Barwick).
What happens when scientific knowledge is made an absolute good? Tony Woodlief writes that you end up with a situation like that in Alabama where scientists failed to adequately explain the risks of a medical study involving premature infants. “I am not saying these are evil people. My point is that their restricted sense of what qualifies as knowledge enabled them to obscure from parents the very risks they considered significant. They now justify their obfuscation with an epistemological sleight of hand: we didn’t know because there was no mathematical proof.”
The fact that there’s growing evidence that fathers really do matter is — to this father, anyway — both very encouraging and very convicting.
Meanwhile, Hannah Anderson discusses why the Bible refers to God as our “Father”: “When the Scripture speaks of God as Father, it is not affirming His maleness or some form of culturally established patriarchy; it is affirming His character. It is affirming that He has not abandoned the children He has created. He has not walked away from us.” I’d never really thought of God’s father-ness in this way, so I really appreciate Anderson having written this piece.
Amy Peterson gives me another reason to hate reality TV, in this case, a “Christian” game show titled It Takes a Church that aims to help Christians find true love with the aid of their church. “[T]he presentation of romantic love and fulfillment in It Takes a Church was deeply problematic, presenting a syncretistic ‘American’ version of Christianity, adopting our culture’s obsession with romance and personal fulfillment and calling it Christian.”
Mat Blackwell discusses the “the tricky ethics of enjoying art made by bad people” (in this case, serial killers): “So here, then, is the crux of the issue at hand: the grey area between dark imagery on one hand, and the reality of that dark imagery on the other. It’s a difficult terrain, this grey area. It’s a taut material stretched thin between the exciting frisson of darkness over there, and the socially-necessary responsibilities of “being a decent person” over here. Basically, it’s the tension between wanting our artists to be able to deal with dark themes, and to deal with them authentically, and also wanting them not to turn out to be child-murdering fucktards at the same time.”