Read Article: C.S. Lewis and the Argument from Desire
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Poster © Austin Cline
Which requires a bigger ego, believing that you personally have been singled out and chosen by God for some special purpose, or believing that your entire ethnic group (race, family, whatever) has been singled out by God for some special purpose? Believing you're chosen by God may be personally fulfilling, but believing you belong to an entire group that's chosen by God means you're part of a larger, divinely-ordained movement and group. Either way, you are raised up out of the masses.
It is feared that many Catholic diocese around the country have records and evidence of how they have covered up the large numbers of criminal priests who have sexually abused children. In many cases, bishops moved predator priests around to unsuspecting parishes, allowing them to continue molesting at will. Catholic leaders want to keep these damning records hidden, but should they be allowed to? Does church/state separation protect churches who are protecting criminals?
This question is complicated by the fact that in most, and maybe all, cases the statute of limitations have run out -- so no matter what we learn, no one can be prosecuted. Perhaps this is one reason why the Catholic Church has fought so hard to prevent state legislatures from extending the statute of limitations on the molestation and sexual abuse of children -- better to let predators go free to continue raping kids than risk what might happen to current priests and bishops?
This would also explain why some of the predators have been sent abroad, hidden in monasteries and other church locations. Apparently the church is doing nothing to bring priests back to nations where they face arrest or imprisonment. Instead of being disciplined, they have found sanctuary and are even continuing with work in the church with communities that have no idea what these priests' backgrounds are like.
Existentialism: Absurd and Absurdity
Read Article: Absurd and Absurdity
Emotional Bonds Between Leaders and Followers: Charismatic Authority
Read Article: Charismatic Authority
Catholics in the Archdiocese of Newark aren't too happy with Archbishop John J. Myers. This time it's not a sex scandal, though; instead, it's just a good old fashioned money scandal. According to recent reports, the archbishop used church funds to construct a 3,000-square-foot addition to his already stately retirement home. Originally it was going to cost the archdiocese $500,000, but apparently the estimate keeps going up.
So, yes, parishioners aren't happy. One form of protest is to not simply refuse to submit regular church donations, but to submit empty donation envelopes. This is actually a nice idea because it creates hard evidence of the absence of expected funds - instead of simply having less in the collection plate (which could be due to any number of reasons), they have a pile of empty envelopes where they would normally expect to have a pile of cash. Read More...
Many Christian arguments against marriage equality for gay couples would work equally well against couples unable to have children. Few Christians have been willing to go so far as to accept the logical conclusions of those arguments, but apparently Fr Francis Fernandez, Vicar of the Santa Cruz Basilica in Fort Kochi, India, is more than willing to do so: he's posted a notice saying that men have to prove they aren't impotent before they can enter marriage.
Few if any of his parishioners seem happy with this. In fact, other leaders of his church aren't too happy either - they say that the issue had been discussed, but they never approved of implementing the restriction. Of course, the fact that they ever seriously considered it is problematic enough. Read More...
Church & State Fundamentals: Origins of Sabbath Laws
Read Article: Origins of Sabbath Laws
A secularist living in California, Adriana Ramirez recently applied for citizenship and was faced with a conundrum: how to answer the question about taking up arms to defend the country. She could have answered "yes" and probably would have been granted citizenship. She could have answered "no" and given religious reasons and probably would have been granted citizenship. Instead, she told the truth by answering "no" with reasons based on secular ethics. She was denied citizenship.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, people seeking an exemption from taking up arms in defense of the country must given reasons "based on religious training and belief." This is illegal, though, because people who are already citizens and who want to be conscientious objectors to a draft don't need to give religious reasons - sincere reasons based on a commitment to a secular or atheist belief system work just fine. Read More...
It's no surprise that most evangelical Christians say that their religious faith is growing deeper, but quite a few atheists and agnostics also say that their religious faith is growing deeper. Why would this be the case?
Read Article: Deepening Religious Faith Among Atheists & Christians
The Complex Question fallacy occurs when an argument depends upon hidden premises that aren't defended or explained. It is often categorized with Fallacies of Ambiguity because the hidden premises introduce uncertainty into the argument.
Read Article: Complex Question Fallacy
It's common for Christians to assume that Christian churches resisted Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. The truth is that not only did few even go so far as to voice criticism, much less overtly and publicly resist, but some actually made serious arguments for the idea that Christianity and Nazi ideology were totally compatible. Arguments for compatibility could either focus on the ideologies' specific teachings, on their general approaches to life and society, or both.
It's popular to promote tolerance, especially in recent years, and one of the increasingly common ways of doing so is to denounce criticism - especially in the context of religion. It's utterly bizarre that such a state of affairs would ever develop because no one should imagine that criticism and tolerance are mutually exclusive.
So how and why would such a misunderstanding develop? Well, one clue might lie in the fact that the "tolerance" in question isn't typically for that of an oppressed minority. When talking about religion generally, we're usually talking about the vast majority of the population; when talking about any specific religion, we're usually talking about either a majority or a large minority. So maybe the point is not "tolerance," but rather to protect the interests of entrenched and even powerful interest groups? Read More...
Most atheists and agnostics were not raised as atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, and religious skeptics. Most were, instead, raised in religious households -- some perhaps very devout and others relatively moderate. Although most atheists in western nations (and especially America) were probably raised in Christian environments, not all were. Many were raised Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and so forth. If you were raised in a religion other than Christianity, what is your religious background?
Alternatives to Science: Can Reliable Knowledge Be Produced Outside Science?
Read Article: Can Reliable Knowledge Be Produced Outside Science?
It was established several years ago that there is a strong correlation between how religious a country is and how corrupt it is. This is not the sort of data that pleases many religious believers, especially given how often we hear that religion is necessary for morality. Recently it was revealed that the correlation remains strong even when socioeconomic development is factored out (an important issue, given the correlation between religion and poverty around the world).
What's more, the relationship between religion and corruption continues to exist regardless of the religion or denomination - so it's not something that can be blamed on any one religious group or religious tradition. Read More...
Christians attacking atheism and atheists is a pretty common phenomenon, but how easy is it to convince such Christians that atheism is not inherently immoral? How easy is it to convince such Christians that atheism may be a reasonable perspective -- that while they may not agree with it, they can see how a person can be an atheist without also being immoral, satanic, etc.?
Some Christians have that attitude, but far more don't -- far more treat atheism like an intrinsically evil threat. Can they be disabused of that notion? Read More...
Read Article: United States v. Lee (1982)
Prayer at School
Photo: John Chillingworth/Getty
Mandatory, official school prayer has been illegal for decades - Christian activists keep trying to reintroduce it but courts keep striking it down. Now, though, Alabama state representative Steve Hurst thinks he has come up with a clever way of getting around the restrictions: have teachers read out opening prayers from Congress. So instead of a religious exercise, it looks like a civics lesson.
I've got to give Hurst credit for creativity. Others have tried to introduce religious elements into schools by citing their existence in the government - for example, the phrase "In God We Trust" - but this goes further than the others. Hurst's bill is following two existing precedents already established by Christian Nationalists and probably stands a better chance of succeeding than most other attempts to get prayer into schools. Read More...
Some people argue that disagreements about the existence of gods or particular religious dogmas aren't important enough to pursue, at least in the context of larger political and cultural debates. There's something to be said for that because such beliefs create endless arguments that aren't necessarily germane to immediate political needs.
At the same time, though, this position ignores the fact that beliefs have consequences and ignoring the beliefs underlying a political position sometimes isn't helpful. It's probably fair to say that underlying religious and theistic beliefs don't need to be debated all the time (i.e., sometimes they can be ignored because debating them would be pointless or a distraction), but they shouldn't be ignored all of the time either. Read More...
dear atheist guy, funny thing about atheism, you must believe you have something to atheiate. huh.... interesting.Read More...