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What's the Difference Between Atheists and...
The difference between being an atheist and being an agnostic should be pretty clear: atheism is about belief. Agnosticism is about knowledge. Atheists don't believe in any gods. Agnostics doesn't know if any gods exist or not. These can be the exact same people, but need not be. Every agnostic is also either an atheist or a theist because any given belief is either present or not - there is no alternative to those two options.
Can Deontology Teach You to Be Ethical Without...
Deontological moral systems are focused on adhering to moral duties. When we follow our duty, we are behaving morally. When we fail to follow our duty, we are behaving immorally. Duties, rules, and obligations are usually determined by God. Being moral thus means obeying God.
Deductive and Inductive Arguments: What's the...
Arguments can be deductive or inductive and you need to know the difference in order to properly create or evaluate an argument. In deductive arguments, it's impossible for the premises to be true but the conclusion false. In inductive arguments, the premises are supposed to support the conclusion in such a way that if the premises are true, it is improbable that the conclusion would be false.
10 Common Arguments Against Gay Marriage
The debate over the legalization of gay marriage in America is about not just the status of gay couples; it's also about American civil law. Either civil law is defined by the needs and rights of citizens, or civil laws are placed under the dominion of religion.
Atheism vs. Agnosticism: What's the Difference?
Many who call themselves agnostic think that agnosticism is a more 'reasonable' than atheism and thus reject the label of atheist. Their believe that atheism is more 'dogmatic,' and indistinguishable from theism is incorrect.
What Are Barack Obama's Religious Beliefs?
Barack Obama's mother was raised by non-practicing Christians; his father was raised a Muslim but was an atheist by the time he had married Obama's mother. Neither Obama nor his mother were ever atheists, but she raised him in a secular household where he learned about religion.
What Are Virtue Ethics?
Virtue-based ethical theories place much emphasis on rules for people to follow; virtue ethics focus instead on developing good character traits such as kindness and generosity. Virtuous character traits allow a person to make good ethical decisions later in life.
What is Logic? What is Critical Thinking?
Logic is the science of how to evaluate arguments and reasoning. Critical thinking is a process of evaluation which uses logic to separate truth from falsehood, reasonable from unreasonable beliefs. If you want to better evaluate the various claims, ideas, and arguments you encounter, you need a better understanding of basic logic and the process of critical thinking. These aren't trivial pursuits; they are essential to making good decisions and forming sound beliefs about our world.
The Real Reasons People Believe in God
Some religious theists think it is appropriate to presume to inform atheists about why they really don't believe in any gods rather than simply listen to atheists in order to learn something. Perhaps atheists should instruct theists why they actually believe in gods. Theists offer all sorts of reasons for why they believe in a god but the only respectable reason is one which, if proven false, would at the very least cause them to seriously reconsider their belief and perhaps drop it entirely.
Karl Marx on Religion: The Opiate of the Masses?
This quote is reproduced a great deal and is probably the only Marx quote that most people are familiar with. Unfortunately, if someone is familiar with it they are likely only familiar with a small portion that, taken by itself, tends to give a distorted impression of what Marx had to say about religion.
Why We Need Epistemology to Understand Knowledge
Epistemology is fundamental to how we think. Many debates between atheist and theists revolve around basic epistemological principles. Without understanding this and understanding the various epistemological positions, people will just end up talking past each other.
Is It Moral or Immoral to Have an Abortion? 9...
The legality of abortion is debated more than the morality of abortion, so fundamental ethical questions aren't given the attention they deserve. Some believe that the law shouldn't legislate morality, but all good law is based upon moral values. A failure to openly discuss those values can obscure important discussions.
Branches of Philosophy
Philosophy is not usually treated as a single, unified subject. It is typically broken down into several specialties and it is common for contemporary philosophers to be experts in one field but know little about another. Philosophy addresses complex issues from all facets of life - being an expert on all of philosophy would entail being an expert on all of the life’s most fundamental questions.
Ethics: Deontological, Teleological and Virtue
Ethics FAQ: Deontological, Teleological and Virtue Ethics. How do these three type of normative ethical systems differ? What are their different approaches and how do they arrive at different or even similar answers to ethical questions?
11 Ways to Kill a Conversation With an Atheist
Atheists and theists frequently get into debates over the existence of gods, the nature of religion, whether religions do more harm than good, etc. Every atheist and theist are different, but a lot of these conversations hit the same topics and run into the same problems. Both sides can be at fault, but there are errors which theists make that kill any chance at having a productive, interesting, and substantive discussion. These errors can be avoided if theists know about them in advance.
Why Don't Atheists Believe in Gods? 10 Common...
Atheists are often asked 'why don't you believe in God?' Well, there are many reasons why atheists might not believe in any gods. In fact, most atheists can probably cite multiple reasons and every atheist is different. But here are some of the most common reasons why atheists don't believe in any gods.
Religion as Opium of the People
Karl Marx wrote that religion is the opium of the people, but few understand what he really meant. Marx was criticizing society more than religion. Marx didn't regard religion as a primary enemy, though he did argue that the hopes offered by religion are illusory.
8 Moral and Social Arguments for Gay Marriage
It's not true, or at least not demonstrable, that gay marriage would be harmful. On the contrary, there are good reasons to think that legalized gay marriage would benefit us all.
How Do Atheists Explain Religion?
Religion is difficult to define. Everyone has a different idea of what it is. Most people simply look in the dictionary or use something else equally simplistic. That might be fine for everyday conversations, it isn’t sufficient for the sort of discussions that appear here. Religion is a human creation and as such can vary as widely as human imagination allows.
10 Common Myths About Atheism
There are many myths about what atheism is and who atheists are - even the definition of atheism is misunderstood. These myths need to be identified as the fallacies they really are because that is the only way genuine arguments and dialogues can be made possible.
Agnosticism for Beginners - Basic Facts About...
There are a lot of resources here about agnosticism for beginners: what agnosticism is, what it isn't, and refutations of many popular myths about agnosticism. I've discovered, though, that it isn't always easy to direct people to all of the information they need. That's why I've collected here some of the basics about atheism for beginners that I find myself linking to most often.
Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family...
The Nazi party was about as misogynistic as any modern political party has ever been. Its views on women and women's proper roles in society were extreme; yet at the same time, the Nazi party was broadly and actively supported by large numbers of women. It's arguable that Hitler and the Nazis wouldn't have achieved what they did without the activism of devoutly religious women who were dedicated and committed to the cause -- a cause which promised them second-class citizenship at best.
What is Monotheism? Belief in a Single,...
What is Monotheism? Belief in a Single, All-Powerful God. One of the most common types of theism in the world today is monotheism: belief in a single deity and denying the existence of all other alleged gods in the world.
Atheists & Christmas: What do Atheists do...
Christmas can be a difficult time of the year for atheists. Although it has become highly secularized in recent years, the holiday has retained strong religious aspects. Many family celebrations of Christmas also include religious rituals which atheists cannot easily participate in without feeling dishonest. Should atheists even care about holidays like Christmas? Should they ignore Christmas, perhaps even create a new holiday as a surrogate? What exactly do atheists do with Christmas?
What You Should Know About Idealism as a...
Idealism is a category of philosophical systems which argue that reality is somehow dependent upon the mind rather than independent of the mind. The most extreme versions of Idealism deny that a 'world' even exists outside of our minds. Narrower versions of Idealism argue that our understanding of reality reflects the workings of our mind first and foremost - that the properties of objects have no standing independent of the minds perceiving them.
Separation of Church and State: Is It Actually...
The phrase 'separation of church and state' does not appear in the Constitution, but the absence of this phrase does not mean that it is an invalid concept or that it cannot be used as a legal or judicial principle.
C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien: Why They Argued...
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 taught at Oxford, both were interested in literature, and both wrote fictional books which propagated basic Christian themes and principles. At the same time, though, they also had serious disagreements - in particular, over the quality of Lewis' Narnia books.
Affirming vs. Swearing Oaths in Court
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Faulty Causation Fallacies: Oversimplification...
Logical Fallacies FAQ - Faulty Causation Fallacies: Oversimplification and Exaggeration. The causation fallacies known as oversimplification and exaggeration occur whenever the series of actual causes for an event are either reduced or multiplied to the point where there is no longer a genuine, causal connection between the alleged causes and the actual effect.
Why You Should Care About Metaphysics, the...
Atheists typically dismiss the existence of the supernatural, so they may dismiss metaphysics as pointless. Because metaphysics is technically the study of all reality, and thus whether there is any supernatural element to it, metaphysics may be the most fundamental subject for irreligious atheists to focus on. Our ability to understand what reality is, what it is composed of, what
What is Agnosticism?
So, what is the definition of agnosticism? Some imagine that agnosticism represents an alternative to atheism, but those people have typically bought into the mistaken notion of the single, narrow definition of atheism. Strictly speaking, agnosticism is about knowledge, and knowledge is a related but separate issue from belief, the domain of theism and atheism.
Atheism 101: Introduction to Atheism &...
I see a lot of misunderstandings and errors about atheism and atheists all over the net. People don't understand what atheism is, what the definition of atheism is, or the difference between atheism and agnosticism. People claim that atheism is a religion, that it requires faith, that it's a form of denial, that there are no real atheists, and that there are no atheists in foxholes. This introduction to atheism answers most of the most common questions and mistakes about atheism.
First Crusade, 1095 - 1100 - Timeline of the...
Launched by Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont in 1095, the First Crusade was the most successful. Urban gave a dramatic speech urging Christians to swarm towards Jerusalem and make it safe for Christian pilgrims by taking it away from the Muslims. The armies of the First Crusade left in 1096 and captured Jerusalem in 1099.
Quotes on Religion - Carl Sagan
Freethought Quotations: Carl Sagan.: baloney detection sagan carl carl sagan ocean of confusion bamboozle
Ethics of Reality TV: Should We Watch?
Ethics of Reality TV: Should We Watch? Reality TV commonly involves putting people in humiliating, painful, and embarrassing situations. Is it ethical to do this - especially for a profit? Is it ethical to find such situations entertaining? What do such shows say about us?
Why is Logic Important?
Why bother to learn about logic and arguments? There are several good reasons to take the time to learn more about both logic. The most immediate and obvious benefit is that it helps you improve the quality of the arguments you use.
Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven: Let He Who...
If it's not bizarre enough that traditional, religious patriarchy reduces to little more than "God gave
What is Belief? What Does it Mean to Say "I...
Atheists are frequently challenged to explain why they are so critical of religious and theistic beliefs. Why do we care what others believe? Why don't we just leave people alone to believe what they want? Why do we try to
How to Be an Atheist: Simple and Easy Procedure...
So, do you want to be an atheist? Now you can learn the simple and easy way to become an atheist. If you follow these steps, you'll be an atheist in no time at all!
Microevolution vs. Macroevolution: What's the...
'Microevolution' and 'macroevolution' are two terms often used by creationists when trying to attack evolution, but few creationists understand what microevolution and macroevolution really are. The fact is, there isn't any fundamental difference.
Should Atheists Ignore Christmas or Celebrate It?
There is a debate among atheists about whether they should celebrate Christmas or not. Some do so because they aren't out as atheists. Some do so in order not to rock the boat among religious family members. Some do so because they always have and don't want to change - or simply enjoy the holiday. Others argue that it should be replaced by a more rational holiday, and still others argue that all such holidays should be ignored by atheists. Is there a case to be made for this?
School Closings - Can Public Schools Close for...
The most obvious evidence of school attempts to accommodate people’s religious beliefs and the one thing which is sure to affect everyone involved, regardless of their religious beliefs, is the decision to simply close a school during a religious holiday. Traditionally, this has only occurred around Christmas, but that is starting to change. Page 2.
Is Creationism Science? Creationists Claim that...
Creationists commonly argue that their position is not only scientific, but even that it is more scientific than evolution. That is a pretty dramatic claim, especially since it has been established that evolution is very scientific, and it deserves closer consideration. This article will explain how and why creationism isn't science or scientific according to the standards of science.
Tracing The Origins of the Old Testament...
The Canaanites play an important role in the story of the Israelites' conquest of their
How Extremist Wahhabism Differs from Peaceful...
Wahhabi Islam, the primary religious movement behind extremist Islam, includes beliefs and doctrines not found elsewhere. It would be a mistake and unethical to criticize all of Islam on the basis of doctrines particular to Wahhabi Muslims. This means that it's important from an ethical and an academic perspective to understand what Wahhabi Islam teaches, what's so dangerous about it, and why those teachings differ from other branches of Islam.
More People Have Been Killed in the Name of...
A common criticism which atheists raise against religion is how violent religion and religious believers have been in the past. People have slaughtered each other in large numbers either because of differences in religious beliefs or because of other differences which are further justified and intensified through religious rhetoric. Either way, religion has a lot of blood on its hands. Can the same be said for atheists and atheism? Haven't atheists killed more people in the name of atheism?
What You Should Know About Pragmatism as a...
Pragmatism is an American philosophy from the early 20th century. According to Pragmatism, the truth or meaning of an idea or a proposition lies in its observable practical consequences rather than anything metaphysical. It can be summarized by the phrase 'whatever works, is likely true.' Because reality changes, 'whatever works' will also change - thus, truth must also be changeable and no one can claim to possess any final or ultimate truth.
An Atheist's Analysis of the Seventh Commandment
The problem here lies with the meaning of the word 'adultery.' People today tend define it as any act of sexual intercourse outside of marriage or, perhaps a bit more narrowly, any act of sexual intercourse between a married person and someone who is not their spouse. That is appropriate in contemporary society but it isn’t not how the word has always been defined.
Radical Skepticism and the Origins of Nihilism
As is the case with Existentialism, the basic principles which underlie nihilism existed long before there was a term that attempted to describe them as a coherent whole. In the case of nihilism, most of the basic principles can be found in the development of ancient skepticism among the ancient Greeks.
Astrology: Is Astrology a Pseudoscience?
Astrology: Is Astrology a Pseudoscience? Many practitioners and followers of astrology are certain that it is scientific - but are they right? When examining astrology for many standards traits of pseudoscience, a different conclusion becomes apparent.
Why Does Religion Exist? Explaining Religion...
Religion is a pervasive and significant cultural phenomenon, so people who study culture and human nature have sought to explain the nature of religion, the nature of religious beliefs, and the reasons why religions exist in the first place. There have been as many theories as theorists, it seems, and while none fully captures what religion is, all offer important insights on the nature of religion and possible reasons why religion has persisted through human history.
Who Are the Atheists? What Does Being an...
There are a lot of misunderstandings about who atheists are, what they believe, and what they don't believe. People become atheists for many different reasons. Being an atheist isn't a choice or act of will - like theism, it's a consequence of what one knows and how one reasons. Atheists are not all angry, they aren't in denial about gods, and they aren't atheists to avoid taking responsibility for their acts. It's not necessary to be afraid of hell and there are advantages to being an atheist.
Sources of Christmas Traditions, Modern and...
Few people are aware of the origins of most Christmas traditions; most assume that Christmas is primarily Christian, or else they simply don't care. Christmas is, in fact, a combination of modern and ancient ideas.
Atheism & Anti-Theism: What's the...
Atheism and anti-theism so often occur together at the same time and in the same person that it's understandable if many people fail to realize that they aren't the same. Making note of the difference is important, however, because not every atheist is anti-theistic and even those who are, aren't anti-theistic all the time. Atheism is simply the absence of belief in gods; anti-theism is a conscious and deliberate opposition to theism. Many atheists are also anti-theists, but not all.
Executing Witches and Eliminating Witchcraft
Burning and hanging were the most popular forms of execution for accused witches in medieval Europe. Burning seems to have been most common in continental Europe while hanging was more common in Britain -- and thus also in the American colonies later as well. The death penalty was imposed on a wide variety of crimes in this era, but witchcraft in particular was punished by death on the basis of Exodus 22:18. Page 10.
Witches, Women, and Witchcraft
Witches have long been feared and hated in Christian circles. Even today, pagans and Wiccans remain a target of Christian persecution - especially in America. It seems that they long ago took on an identity which reached far beyond their own existence and became a symbol for Christians - but a symbol of what? Maybe an examination of the events will give us some clues.
Third Crusade & Aftermath 1187 - 1197- Timeline...
Launched in 1189, the Third Crusade was called because of the Muslim recapture of Jerusalem in 1187 and the defeat of Palestinian knights at Hittin. It was ultimately unsuccessful. Frederick I Barbarossa of Germany drowned before he even reached the Holy Land and Philip II Augustus of France returned home after a short period of time. Only Richard the Lion Heart of England stayed long. He helped capture Acre and some smaller ports, only leaving after he concluded a peace treaty with Saladin.
Arguments Against Gay Marriage: Gay Couples are...
The idea that gay marriage is wrong because gay couples are somehow unnatural is not often stated openly, but this premise influences other arguments and lies behind many people's negative opinions about homosexuality in general. For most people, heterosexual relationships are the norm, both in society and in nature. Homosexual relationships are thus abnormal and unnatural; therefore, they shouldn't be validated by the state nor recognized as a form of marriage.
God Does Not Exist Scientifically
A popular objection to atheists' arguments and critiques of theism is to insist that one's preferred god cannot be disproven - indeed, that science itself is unable to prove that God does not exist. This position depends upon a mistaken understanding of the nature of science and how science operates. In a very real and important sense, it is possible to say that, scientifically, God does not exist - just as science is able to discount the existence of a myriad of other alleged beings.
Philosophy of Religion: Karl Marx's Analysis of...
According to Karl Marx, religion is like other social institutions in that it is dependent upon the material and economic realities in a given society. It has
Ethics, Morals, and Values: How do they relate?
Ethics FAQ: Ethics, Morals, and Values. What is the relationship between our values and the ethics or morals we have? What sorts of things can we value and why?
Perspectives and Religion in the Crusades
Most histories of the Crusades tend to focus on the Crusaders themselves and the perspectives of European Christians seeking conquest and plunder in the Holy Land. But what about the Muslims whose lands were invaded and cities sacked? What did they think about these religious armies marching out of Europe? Page 2.
Introduction to Logic & Arguments
The term 'logic' is used quite a lot, but not always in its technical sense. Logic, strictly speaking, is the science or study of how to evaluate arguments and reasoning. Logic is what allows us to distinguish correct reasoning from poor reasoning. Logic is important because it helps us reason correctly - without correct reasoning, we don't have a viable means for knowing the truth or arriving at sound beliefs.
What is Religion? Defining the Characteristics...
Definitions of religion tend to suffer from one of two problems: they are either too narrow and exclude many belief systems which most agree are religions, or they are too vague and ambiguous, suggesting that just about anything and everything is a religion. A better way to explain the nature of religion is to identify basic characteristics common to religions. These characteristics may be shared with other belief systems, but taken together they make religion distinct.
Is Jesus the Reason for the Season? Godless...
Many conservative evangelical Christians at this time of year want to 'put Christ back in Christmas' and insist that 'Jesus is the Reason for the Season.' Unfortunately, they don't have much of a case.
What is a Fallacy?
Fallacies are defects in an argument that cause an argument to be invalid, unsound or weak. Fallacies can be separated into two general groups: formal and informal. A formal fallacy is a defect which can be identified merely be looking at the logical structure of an argument. Informal fallacies are defects which can be identified only through an analysis of the actual content of the argument.
Importance of Defining God
When debating the existence of god, perhaps the most important step is the one that gets overlooked the most often, and by both atheists and theists: defining what is meant by the concept 'god.'
Renaissance Humanism
The title 'Renaissance Humanism' is applied to the philosophical and cultural movement that swept across Europe from the 14th through 16th centuries, effectively ending the Middle Ages and leading into the modern era. Pioneers of Renaissance Humanism were inspired by the discovery and spread of important classical texts from ancient Greece and Rome which offered a different vision of life and humanity than what had been common during previous centuries of Christian domination.
History of American Religion: Timeline 1600 -...
When did the first Catholics arrive in America? When did Pentecostalism first develop? When was Jerry Falwell's church was finally desegregated? When did Televangelist Oral Roberts announce that God would 'call him home' if he did not raise USD $8 million? All of these and more listed here.
Married Catholic Priests: Why are Some Catholic...
Opposition to ending the requirement of celibacy for Catholic priests is strong - but isn't it strange that, despite this requirement, there are so many married Catholic priests who seem to be doing as good a job as unmarried priests? If celibacy is so vital, why do married Catholic priests exist at all? This isn't something that the Roman Catholic Church is anxious to advertise. They'd much rather keep the matter quiet in order not to 'confuse' rank and file Catholics. Page 2.
Quotes on Religion - Thomas Paine
Freethought Quotations: Thomas Paine.: thomas paine the age of reason professional belief thomas paine paine thomas names of christ
The Similarities Between Religion and Philosophy
Is religion just a type of philosophy? Is philosophy a religious activity? There seems to be some confusion at times over just whether and how religion and philosophy should be distinguished from each other - this confusion is not unjustified because there are some very strong similarities between the two.
Finding Meaning in Holidays: Atheism, Holidays,...
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analogous / homologous structures
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - analogous / homologous structures
What Is an Argument?
Lots of people argue, but few understand what an argument is and is not. You need to know what an argument is in order to construct a sound, valid argument or to evaluate another person's argument.
Existence Precedes Essence
Originated by Jean-Paul Sartre, the phrase 'existence precedes essence' has come to be a classic, even defining, formulation of the heart of existentialist philosophy. It's an idea which turns traditional metaphysics on its head because throughout Western philosophy, it was always assumed that the essence or nature of a thing is more fundamental and eternal than its mere existence. Thus, if you want to understand a thing, what you must do is learn more about its essence.
Inductive Argument
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - Inductive Argument
Causes, History, and Violence of the Crusades
Why were the Crusades launched? There is a wide variety of opinion on this matter. Some argue that they were a necessary response by Christendom to the oppression of pilgrims in Muslim-controlled Jerusalem. Others claim that it was political imperialism masked by religious piety. Still others argue that it was a social release for a society that was becoming overburdened by landless nobles. There's a bit of truth in all of this. Page 3.
Last Supper, painting by Leonardo Da Vinci, 1498
The Lord's Supper, which was the final meal of Jesus with his disciples and the time when he is recorded as having instituted the communion celebration, has been the subject of innumerable artistic interpretations. Perhaps the most famous is the painting Last Supper, created by Leonardo Da Vinci in 1498 for Duke Lodovico Sforza and painted in the Dominican church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, the duke's family chapel and burial place. Page 3.
Submission: The Husband is the Head of the Wife...
Must good Christian women be submissive to their husbands' leadership? Many evangelical and fundamentalist Christians certainly seem to think so. Christianity has not been very supportive of women's equality, historically speaking. Much of the time women have been denigrated and forced into a second-class status. This was true right from the earliest years of Christianity and has continued down through today with it being enshrined as a principle for the Southern Baptist Convention. . Page 17.
Albert Einstein Quotes on Life After Death:...
Belief in an afterlife and souls is a fundamental principle not only to most religions, but also most spiritual and paranormal beliefs today. Albert Einstein denied any validity to the belief that we can survive our physical deaths. According to Einstein, there is no punishment for misdeeds or rewards for good behavior in any afterlife. Albert Einstein's denial of the existence of life after death suggests that he didn't believe in any gods and is part of his rejection of traditional religion.
The Matrix and Christianity: Is the Matrix a...
The Matrix and Christianity: Is the Matrix a Christian Film? Some believe that the Matrix movies are Christian in nature - and there are indeed many Christian allegories and themes. Neo, for example, seems to be a reference to Jesus Christ. But are these movies really Christian - or even religious at all?
Ethics and Morality FAQ: Teleology and Ethics
Ethics FAQ: Teleology and Ethics. What are teleological ethical systems? What are some problems with judging ethical decisions based upon their consequences?
An Atheist's Guide to Peter the Apostle
There are two reasons why Peter is important for understanding Christianity. First, he is treated as a model for Christians to follow. In theory, Christians are expect to act as Peter is described as acting - for better and for worse. Second, the gospels describe Jesus as calling Peter his 'rock' upon which the future church would be built. After his martyrdom in Rome, traditions developed which led to the belief that the most important Christian church organization was located in Rome.
How to Critique an Argument
Assuming that we have established that we have an actual argument, the next step is to examine it for validity. There are two points on which an argument might fail: its premises or its inferences. Because of this, it is necessary to distinguish between valid arguments and sound arguments.
Quotes on Religion - Stephen Hawking
Freethought Quotations: Stephen Hawking.: stephen hawking a brief history of time brief history of time beginning of the universe expanding universe physical necessity
What is an Infidel? What Does it Mean to be an...
Infidel is defined literally as 'one without faith.' Today the label infidel is technically an archaic term referring to anyone who doubts or denies the tenets of whichever religion is most popular in a society. According to this definition, an infidel in one society may be a True Believer in a neighboring society. Being an infidel is thus always relative to whatever religion possesses the most social, cultural, and political power in one's society at any given time.
analytic vs. synthetic statements
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - analytic vs. synthetic statements
Introduction to the Pentateuch
If you want to understand the Bible, you need to understand the Pentateuch. Here in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, you'll find most if not all of the major themes that recur throughout the Bible as well as important characters and stories that continue to be important.
Godless Thanksgiving: Do Atheists Have Anyone...
There's a common belief among many American Christians that the American Thanksgiving holiday is somehow religious. Aside from the apparent desire to turn everything into an expression of their religion, the primary reason behind this seems to be the idea that the whole point must be to give thanks to their god - not any other gods, just theirs, thus making it a Christian holiday too. If that's true, then it makes no sense for non-Christians, or at least non-theists, to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Ethics and Morality FAQ: Normative Ethics
Ethics FAQ: Normative Ethics, or the study of how we should behave and the sorts of moral standards we should employ in our lives.
Agnostic Atheist - Dictionary Definition
An agnostic atheist is someone who does not know for sure if any gods exist or not but who also does not believe in any gods. This definition makes it clear that being an agnostic and being an atheist are not mutually exclusive.
Religious vs. Secular Christmas - Is Christmas...
Americans all over the country in all walks of life look forward to getting a day off on December 25, a day which has traditionally (and almost certainly erroneously) been celebrated as the birth day of Jesus Christ, savior for all Christians. What's wrong with that? Nothing, really - except possibly the fact that it is a holiday which is legally recognized/mandated by our government. Should Christmas be treated like a secular holiday?
10 Quotes by Albert Einstein on Personal Gods...
Did Albert Einstein believe in God? Many religious theists cite Einstein as an example of a smart scientist who was also a religious theist like them. This supposedly rebuts the idea that science conflicts with religion or that science is atheistic. However, Albert Einstein consistently and unambiguously denied believing in personal gods who answered prayers or involved themselves in human affairs - exactly the sort of god common to religious theists claiming that Einstein was one of them.
Leprosy: What is Leprosy? What Does the Bible...
Also known as Hansen's disease, leprosy is a skin infection caused by a mycobacterium. Leprosy was at one time incurable and lepers were segregated into colonies; today the infection is readily cured - it's just a matter of reaching victims of the disease and fighting the social taboos surrounding it. Leprosy is rare in the West yet widely known through biblical references. Biblical references to leprosy, however, are to a wide array of skin diseases, few if any of which are Hansen's disease.
How Fossil Evidence Supports Evolution
When you hear talk of evidence for evolution, the first thing that frequently comes to mind for most people are fossils. The fossil record has one important, unique characteristic: it is our only actual glimpse into the past where common descent is proposed to have taken place. As such it provides invaluable evidence for common descent. The fossil record is not
How to Get Excommunicated from the Catholic...
If you are an atheist who was once a Catholic, you should consider getting excommunicated. Excommunication is a definitive and public step of rejecting religion. Unless and until you are excommunicated, you're still counted as a Catholic. Why would you allow them to regard you as even provisionally Catholic? What are you afraid of?
Religion-Free Wedding Options for Atheists
Yes! There are quite a few options available for people who are uninterested or unwilling to have any of the traditional religious wedding ceremonies. Some are both nonreligious and without any real ceremony. Some include ceremony and ritual, but without religious elements. Finally, there are options which are religious in name, but not really in act.
Santa Claus: Should Parents Perpetuate the...
Although Santa Claus was originally based upon the Christian figure of Saint Nicholas, a patron saint of children, today Santa Claus is wholly secular. Some Christians object to him because he is secular rather than Christian; some non-Christians object to him because of his Christian roots. He is a powerful cultural symbol which is impossible to ignore, but this doesn't mean that he should simply be accepted without question. There are good reasons to dispense with the tradition.
Religion vs. Spirituality
It's popular, especially in America, to distinguish between spirituality and religion. It's true that there are valid distinctions between the two, but there are also a number of problematic distinctions which people try to make. In particular, supporters of spirituality tend to try to argue that everything bad lies with religion while everything good can be found in spirituality. This is a self-serving distinction which only masks the nature of religion and spirituality. Page 2.
10 Things You Probably Don't Know about...
Some atheists enjoy debating religion with theists and have a lot of experience with traditional Christian doctrines, but they may find themselves unprepared for that Jehovah's Witness who comes knocking at their door. This is because the views of The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society are different from those of most Protestants. If you are going to discusses Watchtower Society doctrines and Jehovah's Witnesses' beliefs, you need to understand what those differences are and what they mean.
What is the Separation of Church and State?
What is the separation of church and state? That is a very good question - the separation of church and state is perhaps one of the most misunderstood, misrepresented and maligned concepts in today's political, legal and religious debates. Everyone has an opinion, but unfortunately, many of those opinions are woefully misinformed.
Theism 101: What is Theism? Who are Theists?...
To put it simply, theism is a belief in the existence of at least one god - nothing more, nothing less. Theism does not depend upon how many gods one believes in. Theism does not depend upon how the term 'god' is defined. Theism does not depend upon how one arrives at their belief. Theism does not depend upon how one defends their belief.
Roman Catholic Popes of the 20th Century
A list of all of the popes who reigned during the 20th century with short biographies of each pope and what impact they had on the Roman Catholic Church.
Elijah: Profile & Biography of Elijah, Old...
Elijah was an important Israelite prophet whose name in Hebrew means 'my Lord is Jehovah.' Accounts of Elijah’s life and actions are recorded through 1 and 2 Kings. Aside from coming from the village of Tosabe in Gilead (about which nothing is known), nothing is recorded about his background before he appears suddenly to promote traditional, orthodox Jewish beliefs.
Second Crusade, 1144 - 1150 - Timeline of the...
Launched in response to the capture of Edessa by Muslims in 1144, the Second Crusade was accepted by European leaders primarily due to the tireless effort of St. Bernard of Clairvaux who travelled across France, Germany, and Italy to exhort people to take up the cross and reassert Christian domination in the Holy Land. The kings of France and Germany answered the call but the losses to their armies were devastating and they were easily defeated.
Last Supper, Detail from the Left
The source used by Leonardo Da Vinci is John 13:21 and is supposed to represent the exact moment when Jesus announces to his disciples that one of them would betray him: 'When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.' Thus the reactions of all the disciples are the reactions to hearing that one of them is a traitor to Jesus who would cause the death of their teacher. Each reacts in a different way. Page 4.
Astrology and Psychology: Why Do People Believe?
Astrology and Psychology: Why do people believe in astrology? Belief in astrology has a lot to do with the psychological benefits it provides: it makes people feel important, it makes them feel connected to the universe, and provides reassurance about the future.
Fallacies: Ad Hoc Explanations, Causes, and...
Logical Fallacies FAQ - Faulty Causation Fallacies: Ad Hoc Explanations. Although not normally a fallacy, technically speaking, ad hoc explanations and rationalizations occur whenever someone comes up with some unreasonable explanation or cause that is designed to save a favored theory and cannot be applied broadly.
Pantheon in Rome: History, Architecture of the...
Today a Christian church, the Pantheon is the best preserved of all ancient Roman buildings and has been in near-continuous use since Hadrian's reconstruction. From a distance the Pantheon is not as awe-inspiring as other ancient monuments - the dome appears low, not much higher than surrounding buildings. Inside, the Pantheon is among the most impressive in existence. Its inscription, M.AGRIPPA.L.F.COS.TERTIUM.FECIT, means: Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, consul for the third time, built this.
Gay Marriage Will Undermine the Institution of...
There don’t appear to be valid secular reasons for thinking that allowing gay couples to marry will have any deleterious effects on marriage generally.
Timeline of Cloning History
Timeline of Cloning History - how the science of cloning has developed over the past century.
God is Dead: Killing God
God is Dead - when he wrote those words, Nietzsche didn't mean the death of a literal god, but the death of the shared cultural belief in a god in Europe. Find out more...
What's The Point of Marriage, Gay or Straight?
A common question in the debate over gay marriage is: what the point is for gays to marry? Aside from property and legal issues that could, in theory, be solved by other laws, what point are gays trying to make in attempting to get married? Why is it so important to be able to hold up a marriage certificate and say ‘we're married‘ instead of simply saying ‘we're a couple‘ without a certificate?
Witch Hunts & Persecution in America
As most Americans know, witch hunts also affected the American colonies. The Salem witch trials pursued the Massachusetts Puritans have entered American consciousness as being much more then just the killing of witches. They, like the trials of Europe, have become a symbol. In our case, the witch trials have become a symbol of what can go wrong when mobs of ignorant people go crazy, especially when egged on by just as ignorant and/or power hungry leaders. Page 11.
The Myth about School Prayer
That's right, students should be allowed to pray in school - and they are! Some people act and argue as though students were not permitted to pray in school, but there is no truth to this. At best, they are confusing the difference between official, state-sponsored, state-mandated prayers led by school officials and personal, private prayers initiated and said by the student. At worst, people are being deliberately deceitful in their claims.
Method of Sacrifice in Ancient Greece: Images...
The nature of a sacrificial ritual as well as that which was to be sacrificed could vary somewhat, but the most basic sacrifice was that of an animal - usually a steer, pig, or goat (with the choice depending upon cost and scale). In contrast to Jewish tradition, the ancient Greeks did not regard the pig as unclean.
What Would an Atheist Say About Jesus Calming...
During Jesus' trip across the Sea of Galilee, a large storm threatens to sink his boat. According to traditional commentaries on the passage he deliberately remained asleep to test the faith of the apostles. If that is the case, then they failed.
What is Humanism?
At its most basic, humanism involves any concern with humans (including human needs, human desires, and human experiences) first and foremost. Often, this also translates into giving human beings a special place in the universe on account of their abilities and faculties.
Pragmatic Theory of Truth
An American philosophy developed during the early and mid twentieth century. Pragmatists identified the nature of truth with the principle of action.
What is Agnostic Theism?
Agnostic theism is explored, as well as its relation to agnosticism, and how these two views differ in terms of spiritual belief and doubt in god(s).
Apostles of Jesus: Images of Jesus' 12...
Apostle is an English transliteration of the Greek apostolos, which means 'one who is sent out.' In ancient Greek, an apostle might be any person 'sent out' to deliver news -- messengers and envoys, for example -- and perhaps carry out other instructions. Via the New Testament, apostle has acquired a more specific usage and now refers to one of the elect original disciples of Jesus. Apostolic lists in the New Testament all have 12 names, but not all the same names.
Torture & Sexual Repression
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. Red-hot tongs were applied to womens' breasts and genitalia. Researcher Nancy van Vuuren has written that 'The women's sex organs provided special attraction for the male torturer.'. Page 7.
Exorcism: What is Exorcism? What does an...
The English word exorcism comes from the Greek exorkosis, which means 'out-oath.' It is an attempt to evict demons or spirits from the body of a (normally living) human being. Belief that demons can be evicted follows automatically from belief in demons capable of possessing people. So long as there is a belief that demons can possess a person, there will be belief that some people have power over those demons, forcing them to cease their possession.
Religious Rituals, Festivals, Sacrifices:...
Although it may be common to speak of a Greek 'religion,' in fact the Greeks themselves didn't use such a term and might not have recognized it had someone else attempted to apply it to their practices. It's difficult to accept the idea that the Greeks where completely secular and irreligious, however. This is why a better understanding of Greek religion helps illuminate the nature of religion generally as well as the nature of religions which continue to be followed today. This, in turn, is critical for anyone who wants to engage in a sustained critique of religion and religious beliefs.
Atheism Myths: Is Atheism a Religion?
Atheism Myths: Many people operate under the mistaken idea that atheism is itself a religion, but they are very wrong.
Supreme Court Decisions - Everson v. Board of...
Supreme Court Decisions on Religious Freedom and Liberty - summary and analysis of Everson v. Board of Education.
What is Apatheism? What is an Apatheist?
Apatheism is apathy towards belief and disbelief in gods. This word apatheism is derived from the fact that apatheism is a portmanteau of apathy and theism / atheism. Apatheism can be described as the position that neither the existence nor the nonexistence of gods is important, thus neither belief in nor denial of gods is important.
Abortion & Religion: Diverse Religious...
When religious positions on abortion are discussed, we usually hear how abortion is condemned and regarded as murder. Religious traditions are more pluralistic and varied than that, however, and even within those religions most publicly opposed to abortion, we find that there are traditions which would permit abortion, even if only in limited circumstances. It's important to understand these traditions because not every religion regards abortion as a simplistic, black & white decision.
Was There Really a Female Pope Named Joan?
There is a persistent and popular legend that a woman once managed to rise to the office of pope. This tale got its start some time during the Middle Ages and continues to be repeated today, but there is little if any evidence supporting it.
Audience of Mark's Gospel
For whom was Mark writing? It is easier to make sense of the text if we read it in light of what the author intended, and that in turn would be heavily influenced by the audience he wrote for. Mark likely wrote for one specific Christian community, the one he was part of. He certainly can’t be read as if he were addressing all of Christendom down through the ages, centuries after his own life ended.
contingent vs. necessary truths
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - contingent vs. necessary truths
Quotes on Religion - George Carlin
Freethought Quotations: George Carlin.: cardinal hayes high school in the bronx cardinal hayes high school catholic grammar school image and likeness hayes high school
What is Critical Thinking?
The term 'critical thinking' is used, in one form or another, throughout this site - but what does it mean? Some may get the impression that it simply involves finding fault with others and others' ideas, but that isn't really the case. As a general rule, critical thinking involves developing some emotional and intellectual distance between yourself and ideas - whether your own or others' - in order to better evaluate their truth, validity, and reasonableness.
Hitler Was an Atheist Who Killed Millions in...
A popular image of the Nazis is that they were anti-Christian while Christians were anti-Nazi. The truth is that German Christians supported the Nazis because they believed that Adolf Hitler was a gift to the German people from God. Nazi Christians didn’t abandon basic Christian doctrines, like the divinity of Jesus. Germany saw itself as a Christian nation and millions of Christians enthusiastically endorsed Hitler and the Nazi Party, seeing both as embodiments of German and Christian ideals.
Aren't Weddings Religious Events? Why Would...
There is a common perception that marriage is a fundamentally religious institution - that it is based upon religious values and exists to serve religious ends. Thus, if a person is not religious, then it might seem natural for that person to avoid entering into marriage - and that would include many atheists as well.
A Look at the Authorship Behind the Gospel of...
The text of the Gospel According to Mark does not identify anyone as the author. Not even 'Mark' is listed as the author. 'Mark' could have simply related a series of events and stories to someone else who collected them, edited them, and set them down in the gospel form. It wasn't until the second century that the title 'According to Mark' or 'The Gospel According to Mark' was affixed to this document.
Supreme Court Decisions on Privacy: Griswold v....
Supreme Court Decisions on Privacy: summary and analysis of Griswold v. Connecticut. Should people be allowed access to drugs or devices designed to stop contraception? Do people have a right to privacy that includes whether or not they buy, learn about, and use contraception?
Supreme Court Decisions on Privacy
United States Supreme Court Decisions the right to privacy.
Rastafarians
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - Rastafarians
Engel v. Vitale (1962)
What authority does the government have over religious rituals like prayer? Can the government write specific prayers for public school students to recite every day?
Ethics: Descriptive, Normative and Analytic
Ethics FAQ: Descriptive, Normative and Analytic Ethics. What are the differences between the three categories of studying ethics and morality?
Leonardo Da Vinci - Profile & Biography of...
Leonardo Da Vinci is usually thought of first and foremost as an artist but he was also a very important humanist, scientist, and naturalist in the Renaissance. These aspects of Leonardo's life and work may not always be clear because he was an original Renaissance Man: Leonardo's art, scientific investigations, technological inventiveness, and humanistic philosophy were all bound together — and all were often integrated in a life dominated by the Christianity and Church of his age.
Conspiracy Theories: Masons and the New World...
Conspiracy Theories Masons and the New World Order •  Related Resources •  Psychology of Conspiracies
Fallacies of Ambiguity: Amphiboly
Logical Fallacies FAQ - Fallacies of Fallacies of Ambiguity explained, with examples: Amphiboly
Secularism 101 - History, Nature, Importance of...
Secularism is one of the most important movements in the history of the modern West, helping differentiate the West not only from the Middle Ages and more ancient eras, but also from other cultural regions around the world. The modern West is what it is largely because of secularism; for some, that is a reason to cheer, but for others it is a reason to mourn. A better understanding of the history and nature of secularism will help people understand its role and influence in society today.
Introduction to the Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments are a set of ten basic rules of behavior, mostly negative in construction, that appear in the ancient Hebrew scriptures and are directed at the Hebrews as God’s chosen people. Tradition holds that these rules were delivered to them by God via Moses, who climbed to the top of Mount Sinai during the Hebrews’ journey through the desert from Egypt to Canaan. They are, then, God’s requirements for how the Hebrews are supposed to behave.
Read an Atheist's Commentary on Jesus's Healing...
The first verses introduce the story of Jarius' daughter (discussed elsewhere), but before it can finish it is interrupted by another story about a sick woman who heals herself by grabbing Jesus' garment. Both stories are about Jesus' power to heal the sick, one of the most common themes in the gospels generally and Mark's gospel specifically. This is also one of many examples of Mark's 'sandwiching' two stories together.
Suppressed Evidence Fallacy
When true and relevant information is left out for any reason, the fallacy called Suppressed Evidence is committed. The fact that all included premises have to be true also means that all true premises have to be included.
Architecture of the Kaaba
The name Kaaba means 'cube,' but the structure isn't a cube: it measures 12m long, 10m wide, and 15m high (33 feet x 50 feet x 45 feet). The Kaaba is built from grey granite and each corner points to one of the four points of the compass. The single Entrance is on the northeast, side, 2.3m above the ground. The interior of the Kaaba is bare except for three supporting wooden pillars and gold hanging lamps. Affixed to the eastern corner of the Kaaba, about 1.5m up, is the Black Stone of Mecca. Page 2.
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