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The Bible and Suicide

Agnosticism/Atheism: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
What's the Difference Between Atheists and...
The difference between being an atheist and being an agnostic should be pretty clear. Learn more about the differences and similarities between atheist vs agnostic.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Religion as Opium of the People
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 no independent history; instead it is the creature of productive forces. As Marx wrote, ‘The religious world is but the reflex of the real world.‘. Page 4.
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?
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.
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.
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.
The Real Reasons Why People Believe in God
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Affirming vs. Swearing Oaths: What's the...
Court scenes in American movies, television, and books typically show people swearing an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Usually they swear an oath 'to God' and with a hand on the Bible. Such scenes are so common that most people seem to assume that it's required, but it's 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?
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.
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
When Does a Fetus Become a Person with Rights?
Abortion is the focus of some of the most intense social, cultural, political, religious, and ethical debates in modern American society.
Hillary Clinton's Religious Background &...
Hillary Clinton grew up in a Methodist household, she taught Methodist Sunday school like her mother, is a member of a Senate prayer group, and regularly attends the Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington. Hillary Clinton can be placed in the moderate to liberal wing of American Christianity, but she appears to share a number of attitudes with more conservative American Christians. Clinton's liberalism is a relative matter
Agnosticism for Beginners
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.
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.
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.
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.
Why Does Religion Exist?
There have been as many theories as theorists and all offer important insights on the nature of religion and possible reasons why religion has persisted through human history.
Who Were the Canaanites?
The Canaanites play an important role in the story of the Israelites' conquest of their 'Promised Land,' especially in the Book of Joshua, but the ancient Jewish scriptures contain almost no substantive information about them. The Canaanites are the villains of the story because they are living on land promised to the Israelites by Yahweh.
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.
Did Atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair Get School...
O'Hair is blamed for the elimination of state-sponsored prayers and Bible readings in public schools. But she played no role in one, minimal in the other.
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).
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.
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.
What is Religion?
Many scholarly and academic attempts to define or describe religion can be classified into one of two types: functional or substantive. Each represents a very distinct perspective on the nature of function of religion. Although it is possible for a person to accept both types as valid, in reality most people will tend to focus on one type to the exclusion of the other.
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
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.
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.
Do Atheists Go to Church? Why Would Atheists...
The idea of atheists attending church services seems contradictory. Doesn't that require belief in God? Doesn't a person have to believe in a religion in order to attend it's worship services? Isn't freedom on Sunday morning one of the benefits of atheism? Although most atheists don't count themselves as part of religions which require regular attendance at churches or other houses of worship, you can still find some who do attend such services from time to time or even regularly.
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.
Quotes on Religion - Carl Sagan
Freethought Quotations: Carl Sagan.: baloney detection sagan carl carl sagan ocean of confusion bamboozle
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Reliability of Eyewitness Accounts in the Gospels
Even if the gospels in the Bible were genuine, first-hand, eyewitness testimony, they wouldn't be reliable; unfortunately for them, they aren't even that good.
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.
History of Humanism in Ancient Greece
Although the term 'humanism' was not applied to a philosophy or belief system until the European Renaissance, those early humanists were inspired the ideas and attitudes which they discovered in forgotten manuscripts from ancient Greece. This Greek humanism can be identified by a number of shared characteristics...
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.
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.
Humanism and the Reformation History
It is a historical irony that the Reformation created a political and religious culture in northern Europe that was especially hostile to the spirit of free inquiry and scholarship that characterized Humanism. Why? Because the Protestant Reformation owed so much to the developments of Humanism and the work done by humanists to change how people thought.
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.
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 is Agnosticism? A Short Explanation
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.
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.
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?
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.
Islam's Holy Days: Muslim Holidays Define...
The Islamic calendar begins in the Western year 622 A.D. on the date which Muhammad and his closest companions moved from Mecca to Medina, known as the Hijra. During the twelve lunar months there are a number of important holidays, or holy days, including: Al-Hijra, Ashura, Mawlid al-Nabi, and Eid Al-Adhha. The term Eid is the Arabic term for festivity or celebration, and is only attached to a couple of holy days in the Muslim year.
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.
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.
Scientifically, God Does Not Exist
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.
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.
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.
Descriptive, Normative and Analytic Ethics:...
Ethics FAQ: Descriptive, Normative and Analytic Ethics. Examples of the different ways in which descriptive ethics, normative ethics, and analytic ethics (metaethics) all address the same moral issues.
Varieties of Theism: Monotheism, Polytheism,...
Theism doesn't come in just one flavor - there are monotheists, polytheists, pantheists, and several others you may not have even heard of. Understanding the differences between these types of theism is necessary not only for understanding the religious systems in which they appear, but also for understanding the variety and diversity which exists for theism itself.
Nietzsche and Nihilism
There is a common misconception that the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a nihilist. You can find this assertion in both popular and academic literature, yet as widespread as it it, it isn't really an accurate portrayal of his work. Nietzsche wrote a great deal about nihilism, it is true, but that was because he was concerned about the effects of nihilism on society and culture, not because he advocated nihilism.
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.
Fallacy of Accent
The fallacy of accent occurs when the meaning of a word or sentence is ambiguous and dependent on where the spoken stress is placed. It's not common to find the fallacy of accent in modern English; it's much more common in ancient Greek, the language of the philosopher who first described it: Aristotle. Loosely defined, though, the fallacy of accent can still crop up
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 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.
Ah Puch: Ah Puch, God of Death in Mayan...
Ah Puch (Hun Ahau, Cum Hau, Hunhau, Hunahau, Yum Cimil, 'Lord of Death') was the Mayan god of death, disaster, and destruction. Ah Puch ruled Mitnal, the lowest level of the Mayan underworld. The Mayans believed that Ah Puch stalked them like a hunter stalks his prey. You can't worship Ah Puch so much as try to keep him at a great distance, so to hedge your bets you should mourn with loud wailing in order to scare him away and prevent him from taking anyone else to Mitnal.
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.
Atheism vs. Freethought: Are Atheists All...
A standard dictionary defines a freethinker as 'one that forms opinions on the basis of reason independently of authority; especially one who doubts or denies religious dogma.' What this means is that to be a freethinker, a person has to be willing to consider any idea and any possibility. The standard for deciding the truth-value of claims is not tradition, dogma, or authorities - instead, it must be reason and logic.
Atheism for Beginners
An overview with links to lots of resources about atheism, including refutations of many popular myths about atheism.
Quotes on Religion - Thomas Paine
Freethought Quotations: Thomas Paine.: thomas paine the age of reason professional belief thomas paine paine thomas names of christ
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.
Scientific Theories - The Criteria for Science,...
Scientific observations are the fuel which power scientific discoveries and scientific theories are the engine. Theories allow scientists to organize and understand earlier observations, then predict and create future observations. Scientific theories all have common characteristics which differentiate them from unscientific ideas like faith and pseudoscience. Scientific theories must be: consistent, parsimonious, correctable, empirically testable/verifiable, useful, and progressive.
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?
What Do Religions Say About Birth Control?
When religious positions on birth control are discussed, we usually hear how contraceptives are forbidden. Religious traditions are more pluralistic and varied than that, however, and even within the religions most publicly opposed to birth control we find that there are traditions which would permit the use of contraceptives, even if only in limited circumstances. It’s important to understand these traditions because not every religion regards birth control as a simplistic issue.
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.
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.
Jonathan Z. Smith on the Definition of Religion
...while there is a staggering amount of data, phenomena, of human experiences and expressions that might be characterized in one culture or another, by one criterion or another, as religion - there is no data for religion. Religion is solely the creation of the scholar's study. It is created for the scholar's analytic purposes by his imaginative acts of comparison and generalization. Religion has no existence apart from the academy.
Functional Definitions of Religion
Functional definitions are so common that most academic definitions of religion can be categorized as either psychological or sociological in nature. Psychological definitions focus upon the ways in which religion plays a role in the mental, emotional, and psychological lives of believers. Sociological definitions define religion by the ways in which it either has an impact upon society or the ways in which it is expressed socially by believers.
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.
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.
Jesus Blesses Little Children (Mark 10:13-16)
Modern imagery of Jesus commonly has him sitting with children and this particular scene, repeated in both Matthew and Luke, is a primary reason why. Many Christians feel that Jesus has a special relationship with children because of their innocence and their willingness to trust.
Albert Einstein Quotes on Life After Death
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Theism 101: What is Theism? Who are Theists?
Theism 101: What is Theism? Who are Theists? Understanding atheism and atheists requires some understanding of theism and theists - but just what is theism? What are its primary characteristics?
What to Know About Roman Catholic Popes
Doctrinally, the pope is regarded as the successor of St. Peter, leader of the apostles after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is an important factor in the tradition that the pope is believed to have jurisdiction over the entire Christian church in matters of faith, morals and church government. Reviewed here are basic questions about how the papacy developed, whether popes are infallible, debates about who has been pope, and more.
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?
The Gospel According to Mark, Chapter 10
In the tenth chapter of Mark's gospel, Jesus appears to be focusing on the issue of powerlessness. In the stories about children, the need to abandon material wealth, and in his response to the request of James and John, Jesus emphasizes that the only way to properly follow Jesus and get to heaven is to be receptive to powerlessness rather than seeking personal power or gain.
What Is the Roman Catholic Pope?
The title pope stems from the Greek word papas, which simply means 'father.' Early in Christian history it was used as a formal title expressing affectionate respect for any bishop and sometimes even priests. Today it continues to be used in Eastern Orthodox churches for the patriarch of Alexandria.
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.
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.
Argument from Miracles
The Argument from Miracles is based first and foremost on the premise that there exist events which must be explained by supernatural causes, i.e. God. Probably every religion has had miracle claims and so the promotion and apologetics for every religion has included references to allegedly miraculous events.
Coherence Theory of Truth
The Coherence Theory of Truth, developed by Hegel and Spinoza, often seems to be an accurate description of how our conception of truth actually works. The Coherence Theory of Truth says: a belief is true when we are able to incorporate it in an orderly and logical manner into a larger and complex system of beliefs.
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.
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.
Renaissance Humanism
One consequence of the development of humanist philosophy during the Renaissance was the increased emphasis on the importance of education. People needed to learn ancient Greek and Latin in order to even begin to understand the ancient manuscripts. This, in turn, led to further education in the arts and philosophies which went along with those manuscripts. Page 2.
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.
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.
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.
Einstein Quotes on Society and Politics
Religious theists who claim Albert Einstein as one of their own might want to take a closer look at his social, political, and economic beliefs. Many of Einstein's opinions would be anathema to conservative Christians today - and perhaps even some moderates as well. Not just an advocate of democracy in politics, Albert Einstein was a critic of capitalism who strongly favored socialist policies. Some conservatives might attribute this to his denial of traditional religion and traditional gods.
Theists Fail to Provide Good, Rational, Sound...
Perhaps the most basic reason for not believing in any gods is the absence of good reasons for doing so. Since the burden of support lies first and foremost with those making the positive the claim — the theistic, religious believers who say their god exists — non-believers don't need reasons not to believe. They may help, but they aren't particularly necessary. Instead, what is required are reasons to believe.
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.
Jesus' Teaching on Divorce (Mark 10:1-12)
As is usually the case wherever Jesus goes, he is accosted by large crowds of people - it's not clear if they are there to hear him teach, to watch him perform miracles, or both. As far as we know, though, all he does is teach. This, in turn, brings out the Pharisees who are looking for ways to challenge Jesus and undermine his popularity with the people. Perhaps this confrontation is supposed to help explain why Jesus stayed away from the Judean population centers for so long.
Was Peter the First Pope?
Catholics believe that the bishop of Rome inherits the mantle of Peter, apostle of Jesus Christ who was entrusted with the administration of his church after he died. Peter travelled to Rome where he is believed to have established a Christian community before he was martyred. All popes are, then, successors of Peter not only as leading the Christian community in Rome, but also as leading the Christian community in general, and they maintain a direct connection to the original apostles.
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.
Objective Truth: Are Things True Regardless of...
The idea of objective truth is the idea that no matter what we believe to be true, some things will always be true and other things will always be false. Beliefs have no bearing on the facts of the world around us. That which is true is always true - even if we stop believing it and even if we stop existing at all.
What Were 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.
Punishing the Seven Deadly Sins
Gregory the Great created the definitive list of seven deadly sins: pride, envy, anger, dejection, avarice, gluttony and lust. Each can inspire troubling behavior, but not always. Anger, for example, can be justified as a response to injustice and as a motivation to achieve justice. Christianity's seven deadly sins fail to address behaviors which harm others and instead focus on motivations: torturing and killing isn't a deadly sin if one is motivated by love rather than anger.
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.
Lexical Definitions
Most of the time when encountering a definition, we are looking at a lexical definition. A lexical definition (sometimes also called a reportive definition) is any definition which explains how a word isactually used - it is thus distinct from stipulative definitions which simply propose a possible way to use a word and which may or may not be accepted. Therefore, lexical definitions are capable of being true or false, of being accurate or inaccurate.
Is God Required for Morality? Do We Need...
If religious theists find that they aren't getting anywhere arguing that there can't be any moral standards without their god, they sometimes switch to arguing that without a god to provide an objective set of standards then there is no way to choose which is the best among the various human standards — why not accept Nazi standards, for example? It's a mistake to assume that only a set of objective, absolute standards can provide us with any guidance in moral matters, though.
Simple and Easy Procedure to Become an Atheist
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
Philosophic Humanism
Humanism as a philosophy today can be as little as an perspective on life or as much as an entire way of life; the common feature is that it is always focused primarily on human needs and interests. Philosophic Humanism can be distinguished form other forms of humanism precisely by the fact that it constitutes some sort of philosophy, whether minimalist or far-reaching, that helps define how a person lives and how a person interacts with other humans.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Religion is: Belief in Supernatural Beings -...
Belief in the supernatural, especially gods, is one of the most obvious characteristics of religion. Some people mistake mere theism for religion itself.
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.
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.
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?
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?
What Do Atheists Say About Religion &...
Because atheists are so often seen critiquing religion, it's common for religious theists to wonder what atheists really think about religion and why. The truth is complex, however, because there is no single atheistic opinion about religion. Atheists' critical stance with regards to religion is more a product of cultural trends in the West than of anything internal to atheism itself, which is only the absence of belief in gods. Atheists have a wide variety of opinions about religion.
Myth of Rational Agnosticism - Is Agnosticism...
It's popular for self-proclaimed agnostics, and more than a few theists who aren't agnostics, to proclaim that agnosticism is more rational and reasonable than atheism. Sometimes agnostics may also include theism as being less rational, but typically atheism is the only target. This reveals the underlying problem: the goal is simply to attack atheism, not to make a case for agnosticism, so both atheism and agnosticism are misrepresented to make the latter look more sensible than the former.
Philosophy of Mind: Philosophy of Thought,...
The Philosophy of Mind is a more recent field that deals with questions of consciousness and how it interacts with the body and the outside world. The Philosophy of Mind asks not only what mental phenomena are and what gives rise to them, but also what relationship they have to the larger physical body and the world around us.
Andrew the Apostle: Profile & Biography of...
Andrew, whose Greek name means 'manly,' was one of Jesus' twelve apostles. The brother of Simon Peter and son of Jona (or John), Andrew's name appears on all of the lists of apostles, and his being called by Jesus appears in all three synoptic gospels as well as Acts. Andrew's name comes up multiple times in the gospels - the synoptics show him at the Mount of Olives and John describes him as a one-time disciple of John the Baptist.
Declaration of Independence and Christianity Myth
Many argue that the Declaration of Independence endorses the idea that the United States was founded upon religious, if not Christian, principles, and therefore church and state must remain intertwined in order for this nation to continue properly. They are wrong.
Types of Creationism
Like evolution, creationism can have more than one meaning. At its most basic, creationism is the belief that the universe was created by a deity of some sort - but after that, there is quite a lot of variety among creationists as to just what they believe and why. People may lump all creationists together in one group, but it is important to understand where they differ and why. Not every critique of creationism and creationist ideology will apply equally well to all creationists.
What is Humanism? History of Humanism, Humanist...
Humanism involves any concern with humans (including human needs, human desires, and human experiences) first and foremost. This often means giving human beings a special place in the universe on account of their abilities and faculties. Humanism is less a philosophical system, a set of doctrines, or even a specific system of beliefs, than it is an attitude or perspective on life and humanity. This perspective in turn influences various philosophies and belief systems.
What is Materialism? History of Materialism,...
Materialism is the idea that everything is either made only of matter or is ultimately dependent upon matter for its existence and nature. It is possible for a philosophy to be materialistic and still accord spirit a (secondary or dependent) place, but most forms of materialism tend to reject the existence of spirit or anything non-physical.
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.
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.
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