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Austin Cline

Atheism January 2010 Archive


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Divine Morality Undermines Genuine, Human Morality

Sunday January 31, 2010
It's common for religious theists, and especially Christians, to claim that no morality is legitimate or can deserve our adherence unless it comes from some sort of independent, absolute, external ... Read More

Mailbag: Atheists, Holocaust Denial, and Ideology, Part 3

Sunday January 31, 2010
Larry Darby, now infamous in atheist circles for having given David Irving a platform on which he could spread his views, received a mysterious email from someone complaining about me. ... Read More

Scripture & Authority: Sources of Religious Claims are Unreliable

Saturday January 30, 2010
Unless a person is convinced that they have been personally contacted by some deity and given instructions on how to live a correct religious, faithful life, every religious believer bases ... Read More

Mike Huckabee on Religion in Political Campaigns: Should Candidates Answer?

Saturday January 30, 2010
As politicians push their religion harder and harder, some have questioned the propriety of making religion such a big political issue. Unfortunately, many of these questions don't criticize politicians for ... Read More

Christian Intellectual Values: Accept Deception On Blind Faith?

Friday January 29, 2010
All states regulate child care services, but most states exempt churches from these regulations. If you or I wanted to start a daycare center, we'd have to meet all sorts ... Read More

Clint Davenport: Atheism in Practice is Wicked, Foolish

Thursday January 28, 2010
Christian prejudice against atheism and atheists can become very extreme in some cases. The more extreme it becomes, though, the more it becomes evident that such Christians aren't expressing any ... Read More

Weekly Poll: Whom Would You Be Willing to Clone?

Thursday January 28, 2010

Bible Commentary: Original Sin in the Bible

Wednesday January 27, 2010
The first mention of the concept of Original Sin is found, not in Genesis, where the fatal event was supposed to happen, but in the fifth chapter of Romans, written ... Read More

Evolution is so Gay: Two Enemies in Bed Together

Wednesday January 27, 2010
Have you ever noticed conservative evangelical Christians sometimes try to argue against homosexuality in ways that imply an acceptance or assumption of evolution? We sometimes hear, for example, that homosexuality ... Read More

Forum Discussion: Hands that Help are Better than Lips that Pray

Wednesday January 27, 2010
It's common for Christians to pray in response to a disaster and while it wouldn't be appropriate to prevent prayer if it helps them cope, outsiders shouldn't be expected to ... Read More

Sexy, Stressful Religion: Sex and Stress Drive Religious Behavior, Feelings

Tuesday January 26, 2010
When atheists are asked about why religion persists, some common answers would likely include factors such as fear, cultural pressure, poor critical thinking skills, etc. However intuitively plausible such answers ... Read More

Comment of the Week: Warnings vs. Threats

Tuesday January 26, 2010
Christians commonly present their proselytizing as an act of altruism, not selfishness. It may look like they are just trying to promote their ideology, perhaps with the goal of making ... Read More

Religion & Violence: Recognizing Violence in Buddhist History

Monday January 25, 2010
Most independent observers will readily acknowledge that while a religion might proclaim to be inherently peaceful -- and I'm looking you right now, Christianity and Islam -- the truth is ... Read More

Book of the Week: Religious Liberty in America: Political Safeguards

Monday January 25, 2010
Image courtesyPriceGrabber.com Religious liberty is very important in the American political system and even to the American conception of itself as a free nation. Although religious liberties may be established in ... Read More

Papacy: Pope John Paul II, Women, Feminism

Sunday January 24, 2010
Source: Wikipedia Photographer: Eric Draper The most significant sources of conflict within the Catholic Church today revolve around the role and status of women. Should women be allowed to become priests? Must ... Read More

Political Divisions Among American Christians Increase

Sunday January 24, 2010
Pundits like to write about how divided America is, politically, regardless of what the evidence for it might be. On the other hand, there is some evidence for the growth ... Read More

Mailbag: Atheists, Holocaust Denial, and Ideology, Part 2

Sunday January 24, 2010
From: "Juel" Subject: David Irving   If you have read a lot on WW2 and can't see David Irving's valuable contributions you must be even more of a fraud than I thought. I suppose ... Read More

Robert Meyer: Atheism & Rights Are Oil & Water

Saturday January 23, 2010
One of the most common methods of "criticizing" atheism is to accuse atheists of lacking any basis for believing in morals, justice, rights, etc. For many religious theists -- and ... Read More

Prince of Peace Lutherans: First Amendment Right to Sexually Harass, Abuse

Friday January 22, 2010
Employment laws and regulations have something called a "ministerial exception" which protects churches' ability to make personnel decisions based on religious doctrine where such doctrines are relevant. A restaurant can't ... Read More

Human Evolution: Genetic Mutation Protects Cannibals

Thursday January 21, 2010
There's a popular myth that humans aren't evolving anymore and/or can't evolve further because of how culture and technology shield us from environmental pressures. It's perhaps most common to encounter ... Read More

Weekly Poll: Should there be Official Prayers Before School Events?

Thursday January 21, 2010

Bible Commentary: Synoptic Gospel Problem: Comparing and Contrasting the Three Synoptic Gospels

Wednesday January 20, 2010
The first three gospels - Mark, Matthew, and Luke - are very similar. So similar, in fact, that their parallels cannot be explained by mere coincidence. The problem here has ... Read More

Are Some Religious Beliefs Worse than Others?

Wednesday January 20, 2010
There is a tendency among atheists to treat all religions as pretty much the same. One supernatural religion is regarded as being about as irrational as the next, and perhaps ... Read More

Forum Discussion: Seeking God's Assistance

Wednesday January 20, 2010
The United States is unusual among western, industrialized nations in not only its degree of religiosity, but also the degree to which the government officially supports religion and theism. The ... Read More

Intelligent Design? Comets Responsible for Earth's Atmosphere

Tuesday January 19, 2010
Some religious theists try to argue that the special creation of our planet is somehow proven by how delicately balanced the elements of the atmosphere are and how our atmosphere ... Read More

Comment of the Week: Faith is Believing What You Know Ain't So

Tuesday January 19, 2010
It might sound a bit harsh or extreme to say that religious faith entails believing and asserting as true ideas a person knows perfectly well are false, but sometimes this ... Read More

Ulterior Altruism: Evolutionary Background to Altruism & Consumption

Monday January 18, 2010
In evolutionary biology and psychology, "costly signalling theory" is the idea that individuals communicate their fitness to potential mates through behaviors that require significant resources and/or biological fitness but which ... Read More

Book of the Week: Rage Against the Veil: the Courageous Life and Death of an Islamic Dissident

Monday January 18, 2010
Image courtesyPriceGrabber.com What is it like to live as a woman in a strict Islamic society? Or better yet, what is it like to live in such a society when you ... Read More

No Separation of Church and State?

Sunday January 17, 2010
It's amazing how poor the arguments used by critics of church/state separation tend to be. I mean, couldn't a few of them come up with at least one legally sound ... Read More

Mailbag: Atheists, Holocaust Denial, and Ideology, Part 1

Sunday January 17, 2010
From: "Juel" Subject: David Irving I just read your ad hominem (speling?) attack on David Irving and it leads me to believe that you care not the least bit for the truth ... Read More

Necessity of Christianity? Intelligent Design as Christian Supremacism

Saturday January 16, 2010
Proponents of so-called "Intelligent [sic] Design" like to claim that their purpose is to reveal the scientific flaws in Darwinian evolution -- even though evolutionary theory is accepted by nearly ... Read More

Good vs. Bad Arguments: Emotion, Stories, and Scientific Evidence

Friday January 15, 2010
One of the problems which many atheists face in arguments with theists over religion and theism is the fact that theists can offer many emotional, personal arguments while atheists tend ... Read More

Mike Huckabee on the Christian Culture War Against Modernity, Enlightenment

Friday January 15, 2010
Mike HuckabeePhoto: Alex Wong / Getty Images America's Christian Right is defined largely by the "culture war" they want to wage against modernity: secularism, science, reproductive rights, and the Enlightenment generally. ... Read More

Religion as a System for Fear

Thursday January 14, 2010
Christians argue that theirs is a religion of love, but when it comes to arguments offered to outsiders about why they should convert, the role of fear becomes quite clear. ... Read More

Scientific Links Between Homophobia and Repressed Homosexuality

Thursday January 14, 2010
It often said that people who are loudest in their condemnations of homosexuality are probably hiding their own homosexuality. Anecdotes aren't data, however, so no manner how many homophobic bigots ... Read More

Weekly Poll: Should Public Schools Use Abstinence-Only Sex Education Programs?

Thursday January 14, 2010

Bible Commentary: Strangers and the Bible: Status of Strangers in Old Testament Laws

Wednesday January 13, 2010
One of the issues worth looking at is how those from other tribes and nations were to be treated. It is unsurprising for people to wish to treat their extended ... Read More

David Wolpe: Atheists Have No Foundation for Morality

Wednesday January 13, 2010
It's usually Christians who make false, bigoted attacks on atheists -- for example, that they lack any reason to be moral -- but they are certainly not the only religious ... Read More

Modern Human Evolution: Old Genes Cause More Problems

Tuesday January 12, 2010
If it's true that humans were "specially created" just as they today are by some deity, then doesn't that mean that our oldest bits of genetic code are directly attributable ... Read More

Comment of the Week: Why Do We Believe?

Tuesday January 12, 2010
Many religious theists -- and Christians in particular -- may give you reasons why they think you should believe like they do, but are they really reasons why they believe? ... Read More

Christianity: How You Treat People Doesn't Matter

Monday January 11, 2010
Christianity is frequently presented by its adherents as a vital if not necessary component of morality, but a deeper evaluation of Christian theology should reveal that this is not only ... Read More

Book of the Week: Rapture Culture: Left Behind in Evangelical America

Monday January 11, 2010
Image courtesyPriceGrabber.com Conservative evangelical Christians are an important part of American culture, yet they are a part of culture which the rest of society often doesn't pay much attention to; this ... Read More

America: Christian Nation or Not?

Sunday January 10, 2010
Just as interesting as someone trying to deny the existence of the "separation of church and state" is someone who both acknowledges and praises the principle of separation just before ... Read More

Mailbag: Atheistsí Sad Existence

Sunday January 10, 2010
From: "Tamera" Subject: I am praying for you I am so sorry that you have nothing to hope for. If you truly believe that life on this earth is all that we ... Read More

Tom Frame: If You Mock an Opinion, You'll Ban It

Saturday January 9, 2010
It's common to hear religious theists of many sorts complain that it somehow infringes on their religious liberty when others criticize or mock religious opinions. The absurdity of such a ... Read More

Sexual Promiscuity: The Heart of Atheism?

Saturday January 9, 2010
It is simultaneously depressing and fascinating to read what sorts of misconceptions and prejudices people have about atheism. I regularly get the impression that the people I am reading have ... Read More

Sophisticated Theology vs. Religious Reality

Friday January 8, 2010
Defenders of so-called "sophisticated" theology insist that atheists are as bad as religious fundamentalists because they treat religious texts as literal stories making factual claims about our world. These moderate ... Read More

Christian Cultural Resentment - Cultural Resentment as Religious Force

Friday January 8, 2010
Sociologists, historians, and other researchers generally recognize the complex interaction between religious doctrine and culture: each influences, changes, and reacts to the other. Religious believers tend not to understand this, ... Read More

Thomas G. Bohlin: Atheists Can't Be Good Without God

Thursday January 7, 2010
It would be unreasonable to expect a Catholic leader to give a positive review for atheism or secular humanism, but it's still depressing when major Catholic figures use their positions ... Read More

Weekly Poll: Should We Be Taking Pills to Make Us Happy?

Thursday January 7, 2010

Humanity & Religion: Religion as a Social Phenomenon

Wednesday January 6, 2010
Although definitions of religion that focus entirely on their social aspects miss some important features of religion, there is no denying that religion is ultimately a social phenomenon -- that ... Read More

Forum Discussion: Atheist but Spiritual

Wednesday January 6, 2010
Can atheists be "spiritual" as well? Questions about atheism and spirituality come up regularly and part of the problem lies with defining the central terms -- especially "spiritual." Under some ... Read More

Inferiority & Aggression: Why Do Some Believers Lash Out?

Tuesday January 5, 2010
Getty Photo: John Cumming / Photodisc If you've ever gotten the impression that a person bullying you is only doing so because of their own feelings of inferiority, you were probably ... Read More

Comment of the Week: Natural vs. Supernatural Explanations for Consciousness

Tuesday January 5, 2010
Belief in souls and an afterlife has been an important feature of many, albeit not all, religions in human history. There are many possible reasons for why such beliefs might ... Read More

Origin of Life: Optimism for the Future of Research

Monday January 4, 2010
Although the origin of life is not, strictly speaking, a part of evolutionary theory it remains an important field of research not just for biologists generally, but evolutionary biologists in ... Read More

Book of the Week: The Death and Afterlife Book: The Encyclopedia of Death, Near Death, and Life After Death

Monday January 4, 2010
Image courtesyPriceGrabber.com When we die, is that it? Is that the end, or is there some form of "life" after our physical death? Most people and most religions have believed in ... Read More

Tyler A. Curtis: All Morals Traceable to the Bible

Sunday January 3, 2010
There is a common prejudice among conservative Christians that morality is unthinkable outside their religious beliefs. They insist that atheists can't really be moral or can't have any reason to ... Read More

Mailbag: Scientology Defended

Sunday January 3, 2010
From: "Sue" Subject: None You know, Mr. Cline, you really walk a very shaky line representing Scientology with only detractor's viewpoints. Having used the philosophy in my own life for a number ... Read More

Africa: Christian Missionaries Making the World Worse

Saturday January 2, 2010
Churches which send missionaries abroad of course acknowledge that their primary purpose is to convert others to Christianity, but they also frequently present the missionaries as serving a more general ... Read More

Mailbag: Can Christians Find the Courage to Be Oppressors?

Saturday January 2, 2010
From: Linda Subject: Selfish Students Pray in Unison Linda comments on the story of selfish students taking over graduation ceremonies for the sake of their personal religious rituals: This is a personal issue ... Read More

Harmful Mutations? Deer Mice Evolve New Trait from Scratch

Friday January 1, 2010
DNA Double HelixGetty Photo: Chad Baker / Digital Vision One argument frequently offered by Evolution Deniers it that genetic mutations can never produce new, helpful traits -- all mutations can do ... Read More

Mike Huckabee on Prayer in Public Schools: Do Schools Need God & Prayer?

Friday January 1, 2010
Contrary to most others on the Christian Right, Mike Huckabee doesn't believe that the absence of state-enforced Christian prayers is responsible for all of America's ills. According to Mike Huckabee, ... Read More

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