To start off, two articles on Biblical historicity – the Exodus and Jesus, respectively:
Did Jesus Exist? Searching for Evidence Beyond the Bible:
‘The sources normally discussed fall into three main categories: (1) classical (that is, Greco-Roman), (2) Jewish and (3) Christian. But when people ask whether it is possible to prove that Jesus of Nazareth actually existed, as John P. Meier pointed out decades ago, “The implication is that the Biblical evidence for Jesus is biased because it is encased in a theological text written by committed believers.2 What they really want to know is: Is there extra-Biblical evidence … for Jesus’ existence?”’
Was There an Exodus?:
‘Proofs exist in geometry, and sometimes in law, but rarely within the fields of biblical studies and archaeology. As is so often the case, the record at our disposal is highly incomplete, and speculation about cultural transmission must remain contingent. We do the most we can with the little we have, invoking plausibility more than proof. To be plain about it, the parallels I have drawn here do not “prove” the historical accuracy of the Exodus account, certainly not in its entirety. They do not prove that the text before us received its final form in the 13th century BCE. And they can and no doubt will be construed by rational individuals, lay and professional alike, in different ways.’
Atrium Carceri’s original soundtrack for the PC game ‘The Old City: Leviathan’ is outstanding and worth listening to immediately (and I recommend listening to it as a whole). Fans of the genre will recognize Atrium Carceri as one of the premier acts in dark ambient.
The Coast Guard’s Most Potent Weapon During Prohibition? Codebreaker Elizebeth Friedman:
‘To convict the accused, Woodcock had to link them to hundreds—if not thousands—of encrypted messages that passed between at least 25 separate ships, their shore stations, and the headquarters in New Orleans. Defense attorneys demanded to know how the government could prove the content of enciphered messages. How, for example, could a cryptanalyst know that “MJFAK ZYWKB QATYT JSL QATS QXYGX OGTB” translated to “anchored in harbor where and when are you sending fuel?”*
Elizebeth Friedman, the prosecution’s star witness, asked the judge to find a chalkboard.
Using a piece of chalk, she stood before the jury and explained the basics of cryptanalysis. Friedman talked about simple cipher charts, mono-alphabetic ciphers and polysyllabic ciphers; she reviewed how cryptanalysts encoded messages by writing keywords in lines of code, enclosing them with letter patterns that could be deciphered with the help of various code books and charts rooted in the schemes and charts of centuries past.’
The Scripture Principle in the Didache:
‘When teachers speak, therefore, they must speak in accordance with what has been said before–an utterly Pauline stance found already in Galatians 1. Thus Didache 11: “Whosoever, therefore, comes and teaches you all these things that have been said before, receive him.” The author presumes that his audience is capable of testing the teaching to which they are exposed by some other standard, namely, the standard of what they have already received (ταῦτα πάντα τὰ προειρημένα).’
‘“Music,” writes Roger Scruton (Soul of the World, 175) “addresses us from beyond the borders of the natural world” and thus “requires us to respond to a subjectivity that lies beyond the world of objects, in a space of its own.” It’s one of the intimations of a world outside the natural world describable by science.
But music is made of sounds, and sounds are vibrations, physical events. Scruton of course knows this, but his point is that there is something more to hearing music than there is to hearing sounds. Music is irreducible to the sounds that make it up.’
‘On the one hand, a moral fact is simply the fact that I am obliged to do something, and to deny that there is a fact of the matter here is a non-starter. You might as well deny that there are birds. Sure, I suppose you could make some abstruse taxonomic argument that birds are really just dinosaurs, but it has no power to work as a magical incantation to make parakeets vanish from cages or chicken disappear from my sandwich. If I want to walk out of the store with five pizzas and a tub of ice cream, I happen to know that I’m obliged to pay for them, to do so with dollars, and to wait in line to do so. Telling me that this is an ‘opinion’ is a failure to grasp both the situation I find myself in and the epistemological stance I have to it.’
The Theory-Ladeness of Observation:
‘…most importantly, it must be grasped that those who argue for the theory-ladeness of observation are not making the rather uncontroversial claim that different observers see the same thing but interpret what they see differently. Few would dispute that. Even the most avid foudationalist admits that of course holders of rival theories interpret the “data” differently, each in the light of his or her own theory. However, a foundationalist claims that before these rival interpretations begin, so to speak, both observers are “given” the same datum to interpret (in Latin, “datum” simply means “given”). A sufficient base of data will eventually enable a neutral judge to determine which interpretation best fits the data. What the thesis of theory-ladeness is claiming is that observers with different beliefs “see” or “experience” different things, before any interpretive process can begin. Thus observation by itself can never settle disputes between such rival systems of belief. Since there is no common datum against which to measure the acceptability of rival theories, the observations made by holders of different theories are said to be “incommensurable.”‘