Category Archives: history

The rise of Christianity

Reader Alexander called my attention to what he said was an “interesting article in Aeon. It will not make theologians happy.” And the article, called “Christians were strangers” (subtitled “How an obscure oriental cult in a corner of Roman Palestine grew to become the dominant religion of the Western world”) is indeed worth reading, though […]

Did Hitler have free will?

Ron Rosenbaum’s 1998 book, Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil, got a lot of critical approbation, much of it apparently for the author’s argument that many “Hitler studies” arrived at conclusions that were simply a projection of the authors’ preconceived biases onto the Hitler story. Here’s a bit of the original New […]

Did Amelia Earhart survive, only to be captured by the Japanese?

The story of aviator Amelia Earhart, who disappeared over the Pacific on July 2, 1937 while trying to circumnavigate the globe with her navigator Fred Noonan, continues to fascinate us.  There have been sporadic reports that her bones have been found on some atoll or another, or of a jar that could have contained her […]

What if Wilkins and Franklin had been able to work together?

by Matthew Cobb Today I was interviewed by the French radio station, France-Culture (colloquially known as France-Cul), for a programme about Rosalind Franklin, the King’s College, London, researcher whose data were used by Watson and Crick as the basis of their double helix model of the structure of DNA. Much of the discussion, inevitably, revolved […]

Happy 100th birthday, Francis Crick (1916-2004)

by Matthew Cobb Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA with Jim Watson, was born 100 years ago today, on 8 June 1916. He was one of the most remarkable scientists of the 20th century, and, in my opinion, had one of the greatest scientific minds ever. As Jerry put it here […]

Was Jesus real, and who cares?

Apropos of my recent post on the historicity of a Jesus-figure, Reader Pliny the in Between posted this on his/her site Evolving Perspectives. The cartoon’s called “Independent variables”:

Joseph Medicine Crow, 1913-2016

by Greg Mayer This past Sunday, Joseph Medicine Crow, the last war chief of the Crow Nation, died at the age of 102 in Billings, Montana. His passing has been widely noted in the media, and one of the tributes I heard on Monday noted that his life and exploits ‘spanned centuries’. This might seem […]

It’s time to ponder whether a Jesus really existed

I’m always surprised at how much rancor is directed toward “mythicists”—those who deny that there was a real Jesus who, whether or not he was divine, was the nucleus around which Christianity accreted. I’m also surprised at how certain many biblical scholars are that Jesus existed (Bart Ehrman, to give a prominent example). Yet although I am the first to […]

Google Doodle celebrates the Pony Express in the U.S. and, in other places, B. R. Ambedkar

There are two Doodles today, but only one is visible in the U.S.  This is the one celebrating the 155th anniversary of the Pony Express. If you’re not a Yank, you likely haven’t heard of it, but the story of the Express was taught to all schoolkids when I was a youngster.  The Pony Express was […]

Grant, Lee, and Parker

by Greg Mayer Yesterday was the 150th anniversary of the surrender to General Ulysses Grant by General Robert E. Lee of the Army of Northern Virginia. Although some Confederate forces did not surrender for a few more weeks, Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Virginia, effectively ended the American Civil War. There have been various commemorations of […]