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Agnosticism / Atheism: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
What’s the Difference Between Atheists...
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.
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.
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.
Should the Pledge of Allegiance say 'Under...
Ever since the 1950s, the Pledge of Allegiance has included the phrase 'Under God.' Some have challenged this, arguing that the addition of those words was unconstitutional. Others say that they simply acknowledge the nation's religious heritage. What do you think?
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Tracing The Origins of the Old Testament...
The Canaanites play an important role in the story of the Israelites' conquest of their
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.
Quotes on Religion - Carl Sagan
Freethought Quotations: Carl Sagan.: baloney detection sagan carl carl sagan ocean of confusion bamboozle
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Affirming vs. Swearing Oaths in Court
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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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
What an Atheist Might Say About the Story of...
The story of how Jesus fed five thousand men (were there no women or children there, or did they just not get anything to eat?) with just five loaves of bread and two fishes has always been one of the most popular gospel tales. It is certainly an engaging and visual tale - and the traditional interpretation of people seeking
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.
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?
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.
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.
Origins of the Israelites
The Israelites are the focus of the Old Testament. Who were the Israelites and where did they come from? The Pentateuch and Deuteronomist give explanations, but extra-biblical sources and archaeology produce different conclusions.
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.
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.
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.
Many Religions, One God? Jews, Christians, and...
Many Religions, One God? Some Jews, Christians, and Muslims claim that all three religions follow the same god, but in different ways. Other Jews, Christians, and Muslims argue that this is wrong - that they really follow different gods. Who is right? Are they multiple religions with one god, or multiple religions with multiple gods?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How to Counter Gideon Bibles in Hotels &...
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 to purchase one themselves. The purpose of the Gideons is, in their own words, to 'win men, women, boys and girls to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.' They exist solely to evangelize Christianity and convert people to Christianity. You can take a stand against the Gideons when their actions break the law.
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.
Aristotle Biography: Biographical Profile of...
Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle helped develop both Western philosophy and theology. His ideas during his early days differed from Plato's.
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.
Atheist Activism: Write Letters to the Editor &...
One of the few remaining forums for public opinion, accessible to nearly anyone and read by so many, is the letters to the editors page in newspapers. Most papers have one and you should take advantage of them if you are looking for a way to publicize a godless, secular, humanist, atheist perspective. Make it clear that your perspective is godless and respectable. Write often; your name may be remembered and your letters may rise to the top when controversial issues are discussed.
Southern Baptists and Female Pastors
Not content to simply limit women’s role in the home and in marriage, as they did during the 1998 meeting, the Southern Baptist Convention has tried to make sure that women do not play a very important role in religious matters either. During the 2000 meeting they passed new rules which stipulated that women should not serve as pastors. Page 2.
Ethics of Organ Transplants
Ethics of Organ Transplants - how do we get organs? Who should pay? Who should be allowed to have them, and why? There are more ethical dilemmas than you may realize...
Who Was Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus? Was She...
The synoptic gospels (but not John) identify Mary as the mother of Jesus. Mark describes Jesus as the 'son of Mary.' In Jewish tradition, a man is always identified as the son of his father, even if the father is dead. Mark may not have done this because Jesus' birth wasn't legitimate - that his parents weren't married and, therefore, his biological father wasn't also his
Observing Evolution - How Evolution Has Been...
The most basic direct evidence of evolution is our direct observation of evolution occurring. This is also the most basic lie which creationists tell about evolution because they constantly claim that evolution has never been observed when, in fact, it's been observed both in the lab and the field repeatedly. Creationists count on this lie getting traction because they lie about what evolution is and repeat the lies often enough that they are believed through sheer, dishonest repetition.
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
Kaaba in Mecca: Image Gallery with Photos,...
The Kaaba (Ka'aba, Ka'bah, 'Cube,' 'House of God') is a shrine located in a square adjacent to the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest city. The Kaaba itself is Islam's holiest site. The surrounding square has been enlarged to over 16,000 square meters and can accommodate over 300,000 Muslim pilgrims. When Muslims pray the required five times each day, they face not simply Mecca, but the Kaaba in Mecca; Muslims praying in Mecca turn towards the Kaaba instead of facing just any direction.
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.
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).
Sunni Islam vs. Shia Islam: Islam Cannot be...
There is plenty in both the theology of Islam and the behavior of Muslims which outsiders can legitimately criticize or disagree with. Any serious, sustained critique, however, must be based on what Muslims actually believe and this in turn requires understanding just how diverse Islam is. Comments from both Muslims and critics can give the impression that Islam is a single, united, monolithic religion but this is false. There's more to Islam than most seem to realize, even among atheists.
Jesus Heals the Blind Bartimeus (Mark 10:46-52)
I wonder why, at the beginning, people tried to stop the blind man from calling out to Jesus. I'm sure that he must have had quite a reputation as a healer by this point - enough of one that the blind man himself was obviously well aware of who he was and what he might be able to do. If that is the case, then why would people try to stop him? Could it have anything to do with him being in Judea - is it possible that the people here are not happy about Jesus?
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.
Quotes on Religion - Thomas Paine
Freethought Quotations: Thomas Paine.: thomas paine the age of reason professional belief thomas paine paine thomas names of christ
Adolf Hitler on God: Quotes from Adolf Hitler...
If Adolf Hitler was an atheist, why did he keep saying that he believed in God, had faith in God, and was convinced that he was doing God's work? Adolf Hitler was not just certain that his attacks on Jews were divinely mandated, but also his efforts to clamp down on society by restoring traditional morality. Christian apologists only seem to claim that Hitler was an atheist because they cannot handle the idea that a Christian theist would cause so much evil in the name of their God.
James the Apostle: Profile & Biography of...
James, the son of Zebedee, was called along with this brother John to be one of Jesus' twelve apostles who would accompany him on his ministry. James appears in the lists of apostles in the synoptic gospels as well as Acts. James and his brother John were given the nickname 'Boanerges' (sons of thunder) by Jesus; some believe this was a reference to their tempers.
Islam: Ramadan
Islam FAQ: the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is one of the holiest days of the year for Muslims. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims are expected to fast - abstain from food, water and many other things.
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.
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
God or god?
How should you spell the word 'god' - should it be capitalized or not? Which is correct, god or God? Many atheists use a lowercase 'g' while theists, particularly Jews, Christians, and Muslims, always capitalize the 'G'. Who is right?
How Atheists are Singled Out for Their Beliefs...
Every study that has ever looked at the issue shows that atheists are more distrusted and despised than any other minority in America. Atheists are the least likely people that Americans would vote for in a presidential election. It's not just that atheists are hated, though, but also that atheists seem to represent everything about modernity which Americans dislike or fear.
State Laws on Flag Desecration, Burning, Abuse,...
Why do some state laws ban publicly desecrating the flag instead of banning it in private as well? Why do some specify that it doesn't matter if you deface your privately owned flag? What does it mean to make it a crime to 'cast contempt' upon or 'speak evilly' about the American flag? Why do some state that a crime occurs only when an act outrages the 'sensibilities' of those watching? Why do some states make it a crime to deface or cast contempt upon the Confederate flag?
Cathars & Albigenses: What Was Catharism?...
The Cathars came from the region west-north-west of Marseilles on Golfe du Lion, the old province of Languedoc. They were a heretical sect of Christians who lived in Southern France during the 11th and 12th centuries. One branch of the Cathars became known as the Albigenses because they took their name from the local town Albi. Cathar beliefs probably developed as a consequence of traders coming from Eastern Europe bringing teachings of the Bogomils.
Using AD vs CE & BC vs BCE - Is It Better...
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 do not specifically privilege Christianity; instead, they simply make reference to the fact that we are living in an era shared in common between Christians and other religions - though Christianity and Judaism are the two religions usually in mind. Some regard this as anti-Christian or an atheist conspiracy against Christianity.
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.
Temptation: What is Temptation? How are People...
In the Bible, temptation is a test or trial designed give a subject the opportunity to do evil and sin against God. Sometimes the point is to confuse the subject about what good and evil really are. Sometimes the point is to simply see if they truly understand what good and evil are in the first place. Sometimes God does the tempting, sometimes Satan is given this task.
Conspiracy Theories: Masons and the New World...
Conspiracy Theories Masons and the New World Order •  Related Resources •  Psychology of Conspiracies
Introduction to the Documentary Hypothesis
Did Moses really write the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible? Not according to the Documentary Hypothesis! Biblical scholars developed the Documentary Hypothesis to explain all the problems that exist in the texts if we assume one person writing over the course of one lifetime. Scholars have concluded that many different, anonymous writers and editors produced the Pentateuch over the course of many centuries.
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.
The Universe Does Not Require Gods
The concept of 'god' can mean many different things - or perhaps it can mean anything, given the apparent limitless number of characteristics which various believers assign to their gods. Any time someone asks you why you don't believe in any gods, make sure you ask them what they mean by 'god' in the first place. Chances are, it's simply not something which requires belief.
Curses & Cursing: What is a Curse? Why are...
A curse is the opposite of a blessing: whereas a blessing is a pronouncement of good fortune because one is initiated into God's plans, a curse is a pronouncement of ill fortune because one opposes God's plans. God may curse a person or a whole nation because of their opposition to God's will. A priest may curse someone for violating God's laws. In general, the same people with the authority to bless also have the authority to curse.
Muhammad Drawings, Pictures, Cartoons
Muslims have rioted over Danish cartoons depicting Muhammad. Why? One claim has been that Islam forbids visual depictions of Muhammad, which is strange given how often images of Muhammad appear in Muslim history. We can also find many visual images of Muhammad in European history, all without Muslims rioting and threatening to destroy civil liberties. Here you will find numerous images of Muhammad, some Muslim and some European, accompanied by verses of war and violence in the Quran.
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.
Divorce Rates for Atheists Lower Than Christians
Conservative Christians of all types, evangelical as well as Catholic, tend to link their conservative brand of their religion with proper moral behavior. By far the most popular context is marriage: they claim that a good, solid marriage is only possible when people acknowledge conservative Christianity's claims about the nature of marriage and gender roles. So why is it that Christian marriages, and especially conservative Christian marriages, end in divorce more often than atheist marriages?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What an Atheist May Say About Jesus Healing...
Before Jesus unknowingly healed the woman who had been suffering for twelve years, he had been on his way to attend to the daughter of Jarius, a ruler of a local synagogue. Every synagogue at the time was managed by a council of elders which was in turn presided over by at least one president. Jarius would thus have been an important man in the community.
Tax Exemptions Available to Churches
America’s tax laws are designed to favor non-profit and charitable institutions which presumably benefit the community. Churches benefit the most from tax exemptions because they qualify for many of them automatically, whereas non-religious groups have to go through a more complicated application and approval process. Why?
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.
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.
Einstein Quotes on Atheism & Freethought:...
Albert Einstein is sometimes claimed by religious theists seeking the authority of a famous scientist for their theistic views, but Einstein denied the existence of the traditional concept of a personal god. Was Albert Einstein therefore an atheist? From some perspectives his position would be seen as atheism or no different from atheism. He admitted to being a freethinker, which in a German context is much the same as atheism, but it's not clear that Einstein disbelieved in all god concepts.
Ninth Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Bear False...
There is a question of just what 'bearing false witness' is supposed to entail. It seems as though it might have been originally intended to prohibit lying in a court of law. For the ancient Hebrews, anyone caught lying during their testimony could be forced to submit to whatever punishment would have been imposed upon the accused - even including death.
Why Should Atheists Learn Philosophy? How Can...
Each branch of philosophy has some relevance to atheism, atheists, and the critiques which irreligious atheists use to challenge religion, religious beliefs, and theism. Some branches are more relevant than others and some are more relevant than most people realize, but all have something to offer. Although no one can be an expert in them all, there is thus some value in atheists trying to become familiar with the basics of each before focusing on learning more about one or two.
Israel - Jewish Terrorist Organizations
Religion in Israel: Jewish Terrorist Organizations.
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.
An Examination of the 10th Commandment: Thou...
Of all the commandments, the Tenth Commandment has a tendency to be the most contentious. Depending upon how it is read, it can be the most difficult to adhere to, the most difficult to justify imposing upon others, and in some ways the least reflective of modern morality.
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?
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.
Albert Einstein Quotations: Albert Einstein on...
What did Albert Einstein think about God, religion, faith, and science? Given his stature in the field of science, it's hardly surprising that everyone might want to claim him for their own agenda. Given the equivocal nature of some of his statements, this isn't as easy as one might hope. Nevertheless, Einstein wasn't always equivocal: he often stated clearly that he rejected the existence of a personal God, of an afterlife, of traditional religion, etc.
What Are the Bible's Biggest Scientific and...
The Bible is filled with errors and mistakes. Other ancient texts also have errors and mistakes, but this isn't a problem because people don't expect the authors of those texts to be perfect. The Bible, in contrast, is claimed by many believers to be infallible, inerrant, perfect, etc. Many base their entire religious ideology around the presumption that the Bible is free from errors or mistakes, so demonstrating the presence of errors is key to rebutting their religious claims.
What is the Gospel According to Mark?
The Gospel According to Mark is anonymous, undated, and has no direct information about the historical, social, or political context in which it was written. Because specific and direct information about where this gospel comes from is absent, scholars have had to act like detectives in order to figure out what, if anything, might be said about it with some authority.
What Do Atheists Think About Islam?
Many Muslim beliefs are similar to Christian and Jewish beliefs, but not all. Any basic understanding of Islam requires first understanding what Muslims believe, why Muslims believe those things, and how Muslim beliefs differ from beliefs in other religions.
Are there Any Atheistic Religions? Can an...
Although most religions are theistic, which means that belief in a god or gods is incorporated into its doctrines, there are a few religions that are atheistic. Such religions may simply reject belief in any primary creator god, may dismiss the possibility of gods as irrelevant, or may even go so far as to reject and deny gods entirely. Whatever the case is, people can be adherents of these religions without bothering to believe in any gods, thus allowing for a person to be a religious atheist.
Was Pope Benedict XVI Once a Nazi?
The question of Joseph Ratzinger’s involvement with Nazi Germany and the Hitler Youth is important. Neither Ratzinger nor any member of his immediate family joined the NSDAP (Nazi Party). Ratzinger’s father was critical of the Nazi government and as a result the family had to move four times. None of this is remarkable, however, because the same happened with other German Catholic families. There is reason to think that Joseph Ratzinger has been less than fully candid about his past, though.
Philosophy of Education: Philosophy of...
For many religious theists, religious education is an indispensable part of the learning process because religions is necessary for instilling values and morals. Many would like to see this happen in public schools, believing that their religion should be taught as a basis for social order. Atheists typically oppose such measures, but this can be done on a firmer basis if one has a better understanding of what education is all about.
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.
Sixth Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Kill
Many believers regard this as perhaps the most basic and easily accepted of all the commandments. After all, who would object to the government telling people not to kill? Unfortunately, this position relies upon a very superficial and uninformed understanding of what is going on. This commandment is, in fact, much more controversial and difficult that it appears at first.
Different Versions of the Ten Commandments
One interesting difference occurs in how Catholics translate the Deuteronomy verses into actual commandments. In the Butler Catechism, verses eight through ten are simply left out. The Catholic version thus omits the prohibition against graven images. The Protestant versions of the commandments retain the prohibition against graven images, but it seems to be ignored since statues and other images have proliferated in their churches as well. Page 3.
Analysis of the Ten Commandments
Most people know the Ten Commandments - or perhaps it is better to say that they think they know the Ten Commandments. The commandments are one of those cultural products that people imagine that they understand, but in reality, they frequently can't even name all of them, let alone explain them. People who already think they know all they need are unlikely to take the time to research the subject with any great care and precision.
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.
Dating and Origins of Mark’s Gospel
Because the Gospel of Mark refers to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE (Mark 13:2), scholars conclude that Mark was written during the war between Rome and the Jews (66-74). Most early dates for the writing of Mark fall around 65 CE and most late dates fall around 75 CE.
How an Atheist Might Analyze the First...
The first, most basic, and most important commandment is 'Thou Shalt Not Have Any Gods Before Me' Or is this first two commandments? That's the question. The First Commandment isn't treated by all Christians and Jews as the First Commandment.
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.
C.S. Lewis and Christian Allegory
C.S. Lewis may be best known for his children's books, in particular the Narnia series. When he first began this series he was already an accomplished author, but his publisher and friends argued against a move into children's literature on the assumption that it would harm his reputation as an author of more serious philosophy and apologetics. That didn't turn out to be the case.
Understanding the Bible's 2nd Commandment on...
It is believed by most theologians that this commandment was designed to underscore the radical difference between God as creator and God’s creation. It was common in various Near East religions to use representations of the gods to facilitate worship, but in ancient Judaism this was prohibited because no aspect of the creation could adequately stand in for God.
Do Atheists Have No Reason to be Moral? Are...
For most religious theists, their religion and their god provide the basis for their entire understanding of morality and moral values. They thus find it inconceivable that atheists who don’t believe in any gods and who have no religion could possibly have a basis for morality or even understand what true moral behavior is. Many go further and argue that this is a good reason to reject atheism, saying that it leads to immoral behavior, that it cannot account for the existence of morality, etc.
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.
Freedom From Religion vs. Freedom of Religion...
This claim is common, but it rests on a misunderstanding of what real freedom of religion entails. The most important thing to remember is that freedom of religion, if it is going to apply to everyone, also requires freedom from religion. Why is that? You do not truly have the freedom to practice your religious beliefs if you are also required to adhere to any of the religious beliefs or rules of other religions.
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.
Coming Out to Your Family: Should You Reveal...
Many atheists struggle with deciding whether they should reveal their atheism to their family or not. Especially if a family is very religious or devout, telling parents and other family members that one not only doesn't accept the family's religion anymore, but in fact rejects even belief in a god, can strain familial ties to the breaking point. In some cases, the consequences can include physical or emotional abuse and even having all family ties cut off.
Religion & Spirituality
Is such a distinction valid? It is important to keep in mind that it presumes to describe two fundamentally different types of things.
Religion in Iran - Index
bani sadr sunni islam iran index flag of iran islamic conquest: Religion in Iran: Religion Index.
Top Myths About Atheism & Atheists: Answers,...
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.
Why Do People Become Atheists?
This is a very good question; unfortunately, it isn't very easy to answer. There are perhaps as many reasons for being an atheist as there are atheists. What I mean by this is that the road to atheism tends to be very personal and individual, based upon the specific circumstances of a person's life, experiences, and attitudes.
The Palestine-Israeli Conflict: A Beginner's...
Few people are unaware of the violence which is currently plaguing the Middle East today, especially the violence which keeps occurring between Israelis and Palestinians. At times, it threatens to engulf not only the surrounding nations, but the rest of the world as well. Yet why is this happening - what are the causes, and are there any solutions?
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.
Too Many Gods, Too Many Religions: All Can't Be...
It is difficult to credit any one religion as being True or any one god as being True when there have been so many throughout human history.
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.
Adolf Hitler Quotations: Adolf Hitler on...
It's popular among Christian apologists to claim that Hitler, the Nazis, and the Holocaust are all consequences of atheism, secularism, and liberalism. Such arguments fly in the face of reality: Adolf Hitler regularly proclaimed his faith in God, Nazi ideology was committed to supporting Christianity (on its terms, of course), and Nazi anti-Semitism was firmly grounded in Christian anti-Semitism. Hitler's theism, religiosity, and Christianity are strongly supported in his own words.
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