Tuesday April 22, 2014
What is the definition of atheism? How do atheists define atheism? How do dictionaries define atheism? A common theme throughout the definitions here is the primary use of 'disbelieve' when defining atheism. Some dictionaries drop this, but most comprehensive dictionaries do not.
Read Article: How Modern Dictionaries Define Atheism
Monday April 21, 2014
Both theology and the philosophy of religion have played important roles in Western culture, but not everyone understands the important differences between them. The motives behind theology and the philosophy of religion are very different, but the questions they ask and the topics they address are often the same.
Read Article: Theology, Apologetics, and Religious Philosophy
Monday April 21, 2014
Should the government have the power to regulate private sexual conduct -- and if so, how far should that power reach? Why would the government even be interested in regulating such conduct? What would be the purpose, and what would be the consequences?
Book of the Week: Government vs. Erotica: The Siege of Adam and Eve
Sunday April 20, 2014
Christianism or Christian Nationalism is analogous to Islamism. Just as Islamists seek to reform society along Islamic, Christianists seek to reform society along Christian lines and force conformity to conservative Christian values, ending church/state separation. As Christian Nationalists, they combine conservative, evangelical Christian theology with extreme American nationalism.
Read Article: Christianism, Christian Nationalism: Christian Extremism, Patriotism
Saturday April 19, 2014
One of the reasons people believe in psychic phenomena is not because of experiments which purport to show something statistically significant - these results only serve to bolster beliefs which already exist. People's beliefs are instead based upon their own personal experiences. The more such experiences a person has, the stronger their belief will be.
Read Article: Belief, Statistics & Coincidence
Friday April 18, 2014
Who is more of an immoral bigot, the person who uses "Jew" as a slur or the person who files a lawsuit against having that label applied to them? Is it the person who uses "homosexual" as a slur or the person who goes to court over it? That's a hard question to answer, and the same is true when comparing someone who uses "godless" or "atheist" as a slur and the person so offended by the label that they file suit in court for damages when the godless label is applied to them.
Read Article: Is Godless a Slur? Is it Slander, Libel to Accuse One of Godlessness, Atheism?
Thursday April 17, 2014
Although the influence of existentialism on literature, art, and philosophy is not very surprising, its influence on psychology might be to some people. Understanding it better should help make it clear, however, that existentialism is less a philosophical school than a broader cultural movement that has involved a number of intellectual pursuits - all focused on the existence and importance of the individual human being.
Read Article: Existentialist Psychology
Thursday April 17, 2014
To what extent do people join a religion or just remain in a religion because of the positive, even pleasurable, feelings it provides? This is an interesting question from the perspective of religious psychology, but it also has every practical implications for atheists. After all, if pleasurable feelings play a significant role in religion, then reasoned arguments and evidence will likely play a correspondingly smaller role.
Put another way, if people the more pleasurable religion is, the less relevant counter-evidence and counter-arguments will be -- but this is exactly what atheists rely so heavily on in their critiques of religion and theism. Are we, then, just wasting our time?
Wednesday April 16, 2014
The concept of "nonconscious ideology" was created to describe those ideologies whose implicit, unreflective, and uncritical acceptance help maintain their dominance in society. Sexism and racism are nonconscious ideologies in which the inferiority of one group is reinforced through a multitude of assumptions and interactions that occur outside our conscious consideration. The same is true with Christian Privilege: Christians are continuously told that they are special and deserve privileges.
Read Article: Christian Privileges: Hidden Ways Christians are Privileged in American Society
Tuesday April 15, 2014
Being mistaken about something is not by itself a flaw in a person's reasoning process, and neither is being unskilled when it comes to constructing and analyzing logical arguments. However, the worse a person is at such tasks, the less likely they are to realize it, the more likely they are to overestimate their abilities, and the less likely they are to realize that others' efforts are superior.
Read Article: Unskilled and Unaware: Overconfidence in Self-Assessment
Monday April 14, 2014
Theism, broadly defined, is just the belief in the existence of at least one god. Contrasted with this is atheism: broadly defined, atheism is the absence of belief in the existence of any gods. Most disagreement over this comes from Christians who insist that atheism must be the denial of gods, or at least of their god. Mere absence of belief in gods is, they claim, properly labeled agnosticism - even though agnosticism has it's own definition and is about a different concept entirely.
Read Article: What Is Atheism? Narrow vs. Broad Definitions of Atheism
Monday April 14, 2014
Another biography of Francis of Assisi? So many have already been written, what is the point of another one -- and why would it be of any interest to skeptics and nonbelievers? Unlike most who write biographies of St. Francis, Adrian House deliberately writes both for religious and irreligious people. St. Francis was among the least dogmatic of Saints, and did more to try and live by Christian ideals than anyone else; his life thus serves as a counterpoint to what Christians today actually do.
Book of the Week: Francis of Assisi: A Revolutionary Life
Sunday April 13, 2014
Is the existence of evil compatible with the existence of an omnipotent god with the ability to desire to eliminate evil? That seems unlikely and many atheological arguments have been based upon just that. A solid argument makes the existence of the traditional God unlikely at best - and belief in it unreasonable.
Read Article: Omnipotence and Evil: Can Evil Exist with an Omnipotent God?
Saturday April 12, 2014
There are a number of religious groups which object to evolution and which find that evolution is incompatible with their religious beliefs. Although they may be missing something and their conclusion may be mistaken, they are nevertheless sincere. Does this mean, then, that teaching evolution in science classes infringes upon the rights of these people and their children to the free exercise of their religion?
Read Article: Segraves v. California (1981)
Friday April 11, 2014
The idea that atheists worship themselves in any manner like religious theists worship their god is absurd enough to dispense with quickly. Perhaps because of this some religious theists think it is easier to claim that atheists worship something similar, but larger: all of humanity, the human intellect, or perhaps human government. If everyone has a religion and everyone worships something, then these must seem like plausible candidates. This is just a myth, though, and is not true.
Read Article: Myth: We All Worship Something Larger, So Atheists Worship Humanity
Thursday April 10, 2014
Distinguishing modern science from other endeavors requires focusing in particular on its methodology -- the means by which it achieves results. Fundamentally, then, science can be characterized as a method of obtaining reliable - thought not infallible -- knowledge about the universe around us. This knowledge includes both descriptions of what happens and explanations of why it happens.
Read Article: Profile of Science, the Scientific Method, How Science Works
Thursday April 10, 2014
One of the most serious expressions of bigotry which religious believers -- and Christians in particular -- tend to throw at atheists is the idea that atheists have no reason to be moral. The implication is that atheists are less trustworthy, less honest, and less moral than Christians and if they happen to behave morally, it's just luck at best. Is it equally bigoted to say that Christians can't be moral, or at least can't be as moral as atheists?
Yes, though there is a point to be made if such a statement is made in a very narrow way. If morality means doing the right thing because it's the right thing and not because we are under orders, have been promised a reward, or have been threatened with punishments, then there is a case to be made for the idea that rejection of gods is a helpful step towards improved morality.
Wednesday April 9, 2014
Christian Nationalists sometimes can't seem to decide whom to attack most and most viciously: gays or atheists. Perhaps that's why they invented the epithet "Godless Sodomites," because it allows them to attack both groups simultaneously. It even allows them to pretend that the two groups are effectively the same: that gays are all godless atheists and that atheists are all, or at least tend to be, gay themselves. I can't begin to tell you how often I've had conservative evangelical Christians writing to me and assuming that I must be gay.
Read Article: Propaganda Poster: Fear and Hatred of Godless Sodomites: Gays and Atheists are Vermin or a Disease to be Eradicated
Tuesday April 8, 2014
It is true that early Russian Nihilism had a strong apolitical streak and that later nihilistic philosophies also tended to be apolitical in nature; nevertheless, even Russian Nihilism also contained a very strong element of political activism. Those who argued against the reality of traditional morality and authority also often argued that the social structures which served to uphold morality and authority should be taken down, by force if necessary.
Read Article: Political Nihilism
Monday April 7, 2014
Despite being part of the political, philosophical, and religious landscape of America for over 200 years, the notion of separating church and state continues to be a radical notion. We need a way to explain the concept which makes it easier to accept without undermining its radical, vital nature. I believe it's possible to reframe the separation of church and state that not only avoids misrepresenting it, but emphasizes what's is most important: separating religious from civil authority.
Read Article: Separation of Church & State as the Separation of Religious & Civil Authority
Monday April 7, 2014
Is there any real relationship between the Muslim military campaigns of previous centuries and the recent terrorism campaigns? Paul Fregosi argues that there is -- both are reflections of a fundamental antagonism to the non-Muslim world, and in particular to the economically and militarily powerful West.
Book of the Week: Jihad in the West: Muslim Conquests from the 7th to the 21st Centuries
Sunday April 6, 2014
Debates about the nature and value of faith occupy a great deal of time in conversations between Christians and atheists -- and it's a frequent subject for believers as well. It's not a concept that has been given an especially coherent and straightforward definition, unfortunately, and that's especially serious given just how central "faith" is to so many religions. How can they insist on the importance of "faith" unless they can reliably distinguish between faith and non-faith?
Read Article: How to Believers Separate Facts from Faith?
Saturday April 5, 2014
As a general principle, humanists are not particularly concerned with anything that might qualify as 'the supernatural.' Most humanists reject the existence of the supernatural entirely, but there is nothing self-contradictory about a person who is both a humanist and who believes in something that might qualify as supernatural.
Read Article: Humanism & the Supernatural
Friday April 4, 2014
Although secularism can certainly be understood as simply the absence of religion, it is also often treated as a philosophical system with personal, political, cultural, and social implications. Secularism as a philosophy must be treated a bit differently than secularism as a mere idea, but just what sort of philosophy can secularism be? For those who treated secularism as a philosophy, it was a humanistic and even atheistic philosophy that sought the good of humanity in this life.
Read Article: Secularism as Philosophy: Secularism as a Humanistic, Atheistic Philosophy
Thursday April 3, 2014
When trying to make a case for some idea, we encounter questions which challenge the coherency or validity of that position. When we are able to adequately answer those questions, our position becomes stronger. When we cannot answer the questions, then our position is weaker. If, however, we avoid the question altogether, then our reasoning process is revealed as weak.
Read Article: Avoiding the Question: Not Answering Challenges to a Claim