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Atheism May 2012 Archive

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Epistemology: Majority Opinion - Criteria of Truth Based Upon What Others Think

Thursday May 31, 2012
Many people seem to base their ideas about what is 'true' and what is 'false' upon some form of majority opinion. Sometimes this takes the form of a simple majority ... Read More

Ambiguity and Language

Thursday May 31, 2012
Say What?Henrik Sorensen / Digital Vision In logic, ambiguity is bad -- a lot of effort is put into eliminating ambiguity from arguments and having ambiguity in the wrong places creates ... Read More

Weekly Poll: Are You An Atheist Who Has Ever Been In A 'Foxhole'?

Thursday May 31, 2012

Does God Exist? Immorality of the Biblical God

Wednesday May 30, 2012
An important objection against the existence of the god of the Bible focuses on this god's character. The god of the Bible isn't simply an ideal abstraction; in Western religious ... Read More

Six Commandments or Ten?

Wednesday May 30, 2012
Ten CommandmentsGene Lester/Contributor In Roanoke, Virginia, there's a dispute over a Ten Commandments display in Narrows High School. Giles County school officials know that their display was unconstitutional, which is why ... Read More

Forum Discussion: Duty to Denounce Christianity?

Wednesday May 30, 2012
It's common to see atheists be critical of Christianity and there are lots of good reasons for this. While most of the debate around this issue focuses on whether atheists ... Read More

Persecution of Witches: Witchcraft & Satanism, Linking Witches & Satan

Tuesday May 29, 2012
Image Source:Jupiter Images Christians in medieval and pre-modern Europe believed that Satan was a real being and that Satan was actively involved in the affairs of humans. Satan's goal was the ... Read More

No Evolution in New Jersey

Tuesday May 29, 2012
Image Source:Jupiter Images New Jersey is often thought of as a relatively liberal state, at least when compared to so many others in America, but it's not all that liberal. A ... Read More

Comment of the Week: Homophobia & Insecurity

Tuesday May 29, 2012
Just CheckingPeter Dazeley / Photographer's Choice There is a great deal of homophobia in the United States. Almost all of it is faith-based -- it's rare to see atheists and secularists ... Read More

Use BCE & CE, not BC & AD - BCE & CE as Dating Conventions

Monday May 28, 2012
There is a trend among scholars towards using "BCE" and "CE" as year markers rather than BC and AD. As abbreviations for Before the Common Era and Common Era, they ... Read More

PA Supreme Court: Promoting Religion Isn't Charity

Monday May 28, 2012
Preacher ManTom Le Goff / Photodisc The Mesivtah Eitz Chaim of Bobov Inc. summer camp is something everyone in Pennsylvania should know about, at least if they care about secularism. People ... Read More

Book of the Week: Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials: The Rise of Irrationalism and Perils of Piety

Monday May 28, 2012
Image courtesyPriceGrabber.com As many have surely noticed by now, America has a buoyant love affair with all things irrational. It's not just religion, but also astrology, psychics, wacky conspiracy theories, and ... Read More

Theological Trends: Natural Theology vs. Theology of Nature

Sunday May 27, 2012
Most theology is done from the perspective of a committed believer, one who has faith in the dominant texts, prophets, and revelations of a particular religious tradition. Theology also attempts ... Read More

Naked Bigotry in Virginia

Sunday May 27, 2012
Betty PhelpsChip Somodevilla / Getty Conservative Christians in Virginia are bigoted against gay people. How bigoted? Well, they aren't quite to the point of just saying openly and honestly "I hate ... Read More

Mailbag: God and the Universe, Part 2

Sunday May 27, 2012
From: "Sean" Subject: nice web sites I do believe in God, but am embarrassed by a lot of religious "thinking". If pressed, I would say that I do believe in God, but ... Read More

Parapsychology: Does Parapsychology Do Any Harm?

Saturday May 26, 2012
A common objection to critiques of psychic and parapsychological claims is that neither research into them nor belief in them really does anyone any harm - does it? After all, ... Read More

Serial Abusers for Christ

Saturday May 26, 2012
Bad PriestPeter Dazeley / Photographer's Choice The Legionnaires of Christ has been beset with scandals in recent years -- scandals involving drugs, sex, and secret children. The founder, Father Marcial Maciel, ... Read More

Deuteronomist History

Saturday May 26, 2012
A single person, group, or school known as the Deuteronomist Editor was probably responsible for several Old Testament books, now called the Deuteronomist History. The Deuteronomist History was created independently ... Read More

Hernandez v. Commissioner Internal Revenue Service (1989)

Friday May 25, 2012
If a person pays a religious or other non-profit group for services rendered, do those payments count as a charitable contribution that can be deducted from taxes? This ruling emphasized ... Read More

Veterans Force School to Reject Settlement in Pledge Dispute

Friday May 25, 2012
Pretentious SoldierColin Anderson / Brand X Pictures Vincent Nesser and Phillip Savini are administrators for Brownsville Area Middle School. First they thought they had the authority to discipline a student for ... Read More

The First Commandment and American Law

Friday May 25, 2012
Ten Commandments for AmericaAlex Wong / Getty If the Ten Commandments are the basis for American law or government, where is the First Commandment to be found in American law? Where ... Read More

Bible Commentary: Apocalyptic Gospels: New Testament Gospels and Apocalyptic Literature

Thursday May 24, 2012
Although apocalyptic writing constitutes its own independent literary genre, it still plays an important role within the gospels of the New Testament. In each of the four canonical gospels, a ... Read More

Theological Incorrectness and Popular Religion

Thursday May 24, 2012
Raise Your Hands!Photo: Hirz / Getty Why do atheists focus so much of their criticism on "popular" religion rather than the "academic" religion of professional theologians and religious apologists? The answer ... Read More

Weekly Poll: Should Faith Healing be Allowed on Children?

Thursday May 24, 2012

C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien

Wednesday May 23, 2012
Many fans are aware of that C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were close friends. Tolkien helped convert Lewis to Christianity, whereas Lewis encouraged Tolkien to expand his fictional writing; both ... Read More

Was Jesus Happy? The Answer is Cultural

Wednesday May 23, 2012
Happy to be BaptizedPhoto: Ian Tyas / Getty Few Christians seem willing to admit the extent to which their religion is influenced by their culture. For outsiders it's more obvious -- ... Read More

Forum Discussion: Are we angry at God?

Wednesday May 23, 2012
It's common for Christians to say that atheists are just "angry" at the Christian god, as if atheists really believe but are engaged in some sort of rebellion against a ... Read More

Persecution of Witches: Torture of Witches and the Sexual Repression of Inquisitors

Tuesday May 22, 2012
Interrogations of witches followed many standard Inquisition procedures, but with some added bonuses. Accused witches were all stripped naked, had all of their body hair shaved of, and then "pricked." ... Read More

Pharmacies Lie About Contraceptives

Tuesday May 22, 2012
Plan B, 'Morning After' PillPhoto: Joe Raedle / Getty Images If you're interested in getting emergency contraception, you can't necessarily trust that a pharmacy will tell you the truth about what ... Read More

Comment of the Week: Secularism & Civil Rights

Tuesday May 22, 2012
Richard WrightPhoto: Hulton Archive / Getty The Christian Right makes a big deal about teaching kids in schools about the "contributions" of religion to American history -- and by "religion" they ... Read More

How to Counter Gideon Bibles in Hotels & Schools

Monday May 21, 2012
The Gideons International distribute Bibles all over the world. They don't do this to educate people about the Bible or even to provide Bibles to those who otherwise can't afford ... Read More

Republican Flake: Anti-Science, Anti-Political Science

Monday May 21, 2012
Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)Photo: Brendan Smialowski / Getty Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is taking the typical anti-science agenda of the Republican Party a step further. Not content with the GOP simply ... Read More

Book of the Week: Can We Be Good Without God?: Biology, Behavior, and the Need to Believe

Monday May 21, 2012
Image courtesyPriceGrabber.com For much of human history, there has been the perception that morality is largely or wholly dependent upon religion. Thus, people have argued that a person simply cannot be ... Read More

Agnosticism Basics: What is Agnostic Theism?

Sunday May 20, 2012
Many people who adopt the label of agnostic assume that, in doing so, they also exclude themselves from the category of theist. There exists a common perception that agnosticism is ... Read More

Jesse Lee Peterson: Mistake to Let Women vote

Sunday May 20, 2012
Woman Voting in the 1950sPhoto: The Image Bank / Getty Frequently promoted as a good example of a black Republican, Jesse Lee Peterson is indeed a solid American conservative: he opposes ... Read More

Mailbag: God and the Universe, Part 1

Sunday May 20, 2012
From: "Sean" Subject: nice web sites I am not a physicist or a mathematician. But in general if something like E=mc2 is true, then doesn't that mean something always was? In a sense, ... Read More

Focus on Religion: Dictionaries on the Definition of Religion

Saturday May 19, 2012
Every dictionary has a definition of religion, but not every definition is equally good. Some are decent, but others are horrible. Sometimes older dictionaries have better definitions than newer ones, ... Read More

Rep. Joe Barton Makes Up Bible Verses

Saturday May 19, 2012
Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX)Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Joe Barton (R-TX), infamous for apologizing to BP on the floor of the House of Representatives, has now tried to justify slashing funding ... Read More

Increasing Divisions Within American Churches

Saturday May 19, 2012
A major split has developed between conservative and modernist religious visions in America. The conservative vision is anti-Enlightenment, anti-modernity, and anti-liberty. The modernist vision accommodates religion to the political, moral, ... Read More

Do any atheists go to church? If so, why?

Friday May 18, 2012
The idea of an atheist attending church services seems contradictory - doesn't that require belief in God? Isn't freedom on Sunday morning one of the benefits of atheism? Although most ... Read More

Catholic School Forfeits Rather than Play Against a Girl

Friday May 18, 2012
SoftballPhoto: Iconica / John Giustina Our Lady of Sorrows is a fundamentalist Catholic school in Phoenix, Arizona, that was supposed to play Mesa Preparatory Academy for the state softball championship. That ... Read More

Atheists Trusted Less Than Rapists in America

Friday May 18, 2012
It should be well known by now that distrust of atheists is high, but it's worse than you may realize: atheists are distrusted about as much, and perhaps a little ... Read More

Who is Prejudiced Against Atheists? Who Attacks Godless Atheism, Liberalism?

Thursday May 17, 2012
It might be expected that conservative Christians would hold at least some animus towards atheists, and in fact hostility towards atheism is almost universal among 'born-again Christians.' Even non-Christians and ... Read More

Irrational Decision-Making May be Right

Thursday May 17, 2012
Logic has been around a long time. Probability theory has been around since the 17th century. Decision theory was developed in the 20th century. So we know how to make ... Read More

Weekly Poll: Has Western Culture Become Atheistic and Irreligious?

Thursday May 17, 2012

Myth: After prayer was removed from schools, performance declined...

Wednesday May 16, 2012
The purpose of the above argument it to try and claim that various social ills like crime, drug abuse, and teen pregnancy are all due to the fact that prayer ... Read More

Recovery from the Psychological Abuse of Christianity

Wednesday May 16, 2012
Original Sin is one of the most essential doctrines of Christianity. Much, if not most, of the rest of Christianity depends on the premise that every human being is born ... Read More

Forum Discussion: Atheism is Neither a Belief or Religion

Wednesday May 16, 2012
It would be difficult to find conservative Christians, and perhaps even Christians generally, who don't mischaracterize atheism as a belief or a religion. It's probably the most common misrepresentation out ... Read More

Persecution of Witches: Under Torture, Accused Witches Would Confess to Almost Anything

Tuesday May 15, 2012
Image Source:Jupiter Images Confessions of witchcraft, extracted under torture or threat of torture, commonly came attached to denouncements of other possible witches, keeping the Inquisitors in business. In Spain, church records ... Read More

Seeing Omniscience Everywhere

Tuesday May 15, 2012
It's surprising, but apparently young children assume that others are omniscient and they have to learn that the rest of us in the world have limited knowledge. They know that ... Read More

Comment of the Week: Christian Bigotry Against Christians

Tuesday May 15, 2012
When talking about Christian bigotry and prejudice, at least in the United States, the targets are usually pretty consistent: gays, atheists, liberals, immigrants, etc. What we don't hear so much ... Read More

Atheists Should Monitor Church Voter Guides

Monday May 14, 2012
Every election year, and especially during presidential election years, there are complaints about voter guides distributed to churches by Christian Right and Christian Nationalist organizations. These guides purport to be ... Read More

Santa vs. God - What's a Delusion?

Monday May 14, 2012
It's common for atheist critics of religion to compare belief in gods with belief in Santa Claus. Religious apologists object to such comparisons of course so the question has to ... Read More

Book of the Week: A Rumor About the Jews: Reflections on Antisemitism and the 'Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion'

Monday May 14, 2012
Image courtesyPriceGrabber.com The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion was a forged pamphlet, probably created by the secret police of Imperial Russia in the late 1890's. The goal was to ... Read More

Godless Intellectual Values: Intellectual Values are Important, Godless, Secular

Sunday May 13, 2012
When people in America talk about 'values,' they are usually talking about moral values -- and moral values concentrated around controlling people's sexuality, to boot. Neither moral values nor sexual ... Read More

Wes Moore: There Are No Good Atheists (And They Don't Exist Anyway)

Sunday May 13, 2012
The most amusing thing about bigots is when they contradict themselves in their bigoted claims. It's no surprise they do this because bigotry isn't rational, so they never subject their ... Read More

Mailbag: Nothing To Look Forward To, Part 2

Sunday May 13, 2012
From: "CHADDIE" Subject: Question for all Atheists/Agnostics I enjoy a good laugh whenever someone tries to disprove the Bible (thanks to you crazy Atheists/Agnostics). First off, there has not been any proof, ... Read More

Focus on Religion: Religion vs. Superstition

Saturday May 12, 2012
Is there a real connection between religion and superstition? Some, particular adherents of various religious faiths, will often argue that the two are fundamentally different types of beliefs. Those who ... Read More

Secularization & American Religion

Saturday May 12, 2012
Religious conservatives often complain about the secularization of America. It is true that the government is secular, but that's the way it is supposed to be. The rest of society ... Read More

Errors in Genesis About the a Firmament in Heaven

Saturday May 12, 2012
Genesis describes a firmament dividing the waters below from the waters above. Christians have believed that this firmament is literally a dome or bowl which separates the sky from the ... Read More

Does God Exist? Who Made God: An Atheological Argument from Design

Friday May 11, 2012
Who Made God? According to some, nothing so complex as the universe could exist without having been designed by a creator. But where does that leave the traditional concept of ... Read More

Origins of Life - Thermal Vents or Warm Ponds?

Friday May 11, 2012
Early on scientists thought that life probably first developed in warm ponds on land. Then, after hot thermal vents were found deep in the oceans, scientists started to think that ... Read More

Quoting out of Context Fallacy

Friday May 11, 2012
Every quotation is a quote without some context because you can't quote absolutely everything. A quotation become a fallacy of quoting out of context when you use a selective quotation ... Read More

Myth: Religion is Central to Human Existence, Everyone Is Religious

Thursday May 10, 2012
For some religious theists, their religion and religious beliefs are so important to them that they can't imagine anyone being without a religion of some sort. For such people, religion ... Read More

Are Humans Born to be Religious... Or Merely Susceptible to Religion?

Thursday May 10, 2012
An Active GodColin Anderson / Brand X / Getty One of the most fundamental attributes to traditional theism of all forms is agency: gods of every sort are agents which act ... Read More

Weekly Poll: Is Religion More a Force for Good or Evil?

Thursday May 10, 2012

Is Godless Liberalism a Religion? Godless Liberalism's not a Religion, Religious

Wednesday May 9, 2012
Calling 'Godless Liberalism' a religion should be instantly recognized as an ideological attack rather than a neutral observation of facts. Sadly this is not the case and it has become ... Read More

Is America in Moral Decline?

Wednesday May 9, 2012
It won't surprise anyone to learn that conservatives believe that America is in a moral free fall, but what happens when we compare that belief to reality? Well, it probably ... Read More

Forum Discussion: Discussion: Joy in a Purposeless Universe?

Wednesday May 9, 2012
Atheists don't typically believe that there is any "purpose" to the universe that is imposed upon it from the outside -- the only purpose that exists is whatever purpose we ... Read More

Persecution of Witches: Church Depictions of Witches & Witchcraft

Tuesday May 8, 2012
Image Source:Jupiter Images Portrayals of witchcraft in church records can be very amusing. Almost everything that was "known" at the time about witches was pure fiction, inventions by church authorities who ... Read More

Vatican Supports Cardinal Who Didn't Report Priest Sexually Abusing Kids

Tuesday May 8, 2012
Ireland's Cardinal Sean Brady has admitted that when he was still a priest, he knew that Father Brendan Smyth, Ireland's "most prolific pedophile," had abused a 14-year-old boy. He was ... Read More

Comment of the Week: Reading the Bible

Tuesday May 8, 2012
It's common for Christians to promote their religion by encouraging atheists to read the Bible. Christians seems to be unaware of the fact that atheists tend to be very familiar ... Read More

Monitoring Local Media - Monitor, Use Local Media for Activism

Monday May 7, 2012
Newspapers may be having problems because of falling advertising revenue, but many people continue to get their news from local newspapers, radio, and television. It's easy to get so involved ... Read More

Southern Baptists Use Felon to Oppose Protecting Women from Violence

Monday May 7, 2012
I guess we shouldn't be surprised that conservative evangelical Christians object to laws that would protect women from violence. It's sad that they would defend the abuse of women, but ... Read More

Book of the Week: The Place of Tolerance in Islam

Monday May 7, 2012
Image courtesyPriceGrabber.com The terrorist attacks of 9/11/01 intensified the spotlight on Islam and its ability to peacefully coexist with other religious traditions. Who can be said to speak authoritatively on behalf ... Read More

Why Does Religious Authority Matter? Understanding a Source of Religious Cohesion

Sunday May 6, 2012
Every religious community, just as is the case in any human community, has a some conception and system of authority. Even the loosest association of believers shares an idea and ... Read More

When Homophobic Politics is Racist Politics

Sunday May 6, 2012
Bigotry is rarely a specialized field; by that, I mean that a bigot is rarely bigoted against just one group alone. Usually, their bigotry is broader and directed against multiple ... Read More

Mailbag: Nothing To Look Forward To, Part 1

Sunday May 6, 2012
From: "CHADDIE" Subject: Question for all Atheists/Agnostics Without God in your life, you have nothing to look forward to. It just really saddens me to see people so blind. To me it ... Read More

Branch Ministries v. Rossotti (2000)

Saturday May 5, 2012
Is the prohibition against churches participating in political campaigns a violation of their free speech and free exercise of religion? Not according to the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, ... Read More

Iranian Cleric: Gays & Gay-Rights Advocates are Lower than Animals

Saturday May 5, 2012
Ayatollah Abdollah Javadi-Amoli, a Muslim scholar in Iran's holy city Qom, has recently declared that not only are gay people lower than dogs and pigs, but so are people who ... Read More

Introduction to the Book of Ruth

Saturday May 5, 2012
The Book of Ruth is one of the shorter and simpler books of the Bible. The focus of the Book of Ruth is one woman, Ruth, and her conversion of ... Read More

Focus on Religion: Religious References on the Definition of Religion

Friday May 4, 2012
Although people usually go to dictionaries first when they need a definition, specialized reference works can have more comprehensive and complete definitions - if for no other reason, than because ... Read More

Edwina Rogers: Can She Be Trusted by Secularists?

Friday May 4, 2012
The Secular Coalition for America has hired a new executive director: Edwina Rogers. She's been a Washington lawyer for 20 years, much of the time working for Republican administrations and ... Read More

Agnostics & Atheists More Open to Change & Doubt

Friday May 4, 2012
Has it ever seemed to you like atheists and agnostics might be more open to change or new things than religious believers? Surveys by Barna indicate that atheists are indeed ... Read More

Papacy: Pope John Paul II and the Sexual Abuse Crisis

Thursday May 3, 2012
Source: Wikipedia Photographer: Eric Draper Scandals involving priests who have sexually abused children have been a source of many problems for the Roman Catholic Church. Arguably worse than the sexual abuse, however, ... Read More

Evolution of Trade, Friendship, and Social Cohesion

Thursday May 3, 2012
Studies of social cohesion and how it evolved in humans tend to focus on weighty matters like morality, but something as basic as friendship is just as important -- and ... Read More

Weekly Poll: Should Atheists Shut Up and Stop Upsetting Christians?

Thursday May 3, 2012

Transfiguration: What is the Transfiguration? What Does the Bible Say about the Transfiguration of Jesus?

Wednesday May 2, 2012
The 'Transfiguration' refers to the appearance of Jesus Christ in a 'glorified form' to his disciples. This is recorded in the synoptic gospels when Jesus took Peter, James and John ... Read More

Origins of the Human Social Mind

Wednesday May 2, 2012
Humans share a lot more with other animals than most people seem to know or want to believe, but the fact remains that there are also significant differences. No other ... Read More

Forum Discussion: Prohibition and Blue Laws

Wednesday May 2, 2012
National prohibition (of alcohol) has been over for a while now, but localized prohibition still exists in a lot of areas and to varying degrees. There are places where alcohol ... Read More

Does God Exist? Argument from Miracles

Tuesday May 1, 2012
The Argument from Miracles is based first and foremost on the premise that there exist events which must be explained by supernatural causes, i.e. God. Probably every religion has had ... Read More

Do Secularists Misunderstand Religion?

Tuesday May 1, 2012
Some people who study religion academically are arguing that secularists and atheists are making mistakes in their criticisms of religion. These criticisms supposedly don't sufficiently take into account what we ... Read More

Comment of the Week: Religion & Respect

Tuesday May 1, 2012
It seems that there's no end to the demands from religious believers for "respect" for their religious beliefs. Sometimes it's overt, as with a specific demand for respect, and sometimes ... Read More

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