Friday, July 26, 2013

Links for July 26, 2013

It would be difficult and a little dishonest to give you a list of interesting links this week without mentioning the new addition to the royal family, which was probably the hottest topic of discussion online this week. So I'll just get it out of the way up front. On July 22, at 4:24 PM His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis (the name was revealed just yesterday) was born a healthy baby boy to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Ever wonder what this news looks like in dollars and stats?

In other news, our very own PhD candidate (and Ground Motive contributor) Joseph Kirby published a fascinating essay called “The Spiritual Meaning of Technological Evolution to Life” in the latest issue of Cosmos and History. It’s available for open access, so I recommend that you make sure to take the time to give it a read this week.

New philosophical problems and ethical dilemmas arise at a dizzying rate these days as game-changing technologies pop up all over the place. Here’s an article exploring some of the implications of the introduction of 3D printer technology.

What if you could crack open your Facebook page and pop a message over to your friend the dolphin who has learned to use an underwater touchpad interface? This week I came across this thrilling (and maybe a little chilling) TED talk on a new project developing an interspecies internet that could bring dolphins, apes, elephants, and other animals online through the development of special interfaces. This project makes us rethink intelligence, our own human uniqueness, and what technology can do. Is the interspecies internet a new way to responsibly share the planet or the new frontier for (cyber)colonialism? Does this mean we’ll have to add whistle characters to our QWERTY keyboards so that we can use the dolphins’ natural given names in Dolphinese?

I’m a little embarrassed to say that I watched all 25 minutes of this documentary on animals and technology showcasing the work of the LLHC (Large Little Hamster Collider). Says one straight-faced researcher explaining the groundbreaking work of the LLHC: “Nature has been doing these experiments for as long as nature exists. Particles always scattered off hamsters.” Don’t worry, no hamsters are harmed in these very scientific experiments. I wonder what CERN thinks about the Large Hadron Collider’s slightly cuddlier copycat counterpart.

On a more serious note, I came across this thought-provoking and moving story about how Jenny, a woman with Down syndrome, fights for her right to independence in a recent court case. This article raises some really important questions that we need to think through about intellectual disability and social equality.

Another court case that has caused quite a stir and gives us pause is the recent shocking verdict in Florida that found George Zimmerman not guilty of the murder of Trayvon Martin based on Florida’s self defense laws. For a thoughtful reflection on here’s an article by Lisa Sharon Harper drawing out its implications for issues of injustice and racial prejudice. “Finally, last weekend, George Zimmerman was found “not guilty” and black America realized a web of laws have been hacking away at our civil rights to live and expect equal protection under the law,” Harper laments. “The old Jim Crow is back.”

Continuing Ground Motive’s discussion of the importance of fiction, here’s an article from Relevant magazine on how Christians could benefit from a good regular dose of fiction.

This week I came across these thoughts on how this author finds it to be the sad reality that sometimes the local pub makes a better church than the Sunday morning congregation: “Jesus is moving into our streets. And even into our bars. It is here that I have found people, who are not scared of brokenness.”

Last but by no means least, The Atlantic published an article yesterday summarizing some data collected from a recent survey in the US, which indicates significant growth in the size of the religious left, making some wonder if the new “moral majority” will have a distinctly progressive tint to it. “And the data indicate,” writes Jonathan Merritt, “that the growth of religious progressives may soon shift the balance of power that has existed for more than a quarter century.” Should we rejoice that more and more Christians seem to be increasingly concerned about social issues like poverty and the environment, or should we fear the implications of a shifting “Moral Majority”?

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