1. Religion & Spirituality
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Austin Cline

Updated Articles and Resources

By Austin Cline

    Updated Articles and Resources
    • Faith is Unreliable & Unreasonable: Faith is Not a Source of Knowledge Created: Thursday, November 30, 2006 Updated: Friday, August 22, 2014
      A common characteristic of both theism and religion is their reliance on faith: belief in the existence of a god and in the truth of religious doctrines is neither founded upon nor defended by logic, reason, evidence, or science. Instead, people are supposed to have faith — a position they wouldn’t consciously adopt with just about any other issue. Faith, though, is an unreliable guide to reality or means for acquiring knowledge. Faith can be used to defend anything and everything equally.
    • Life is Material, not Supernatural: We Are Material, Natural Beings Created: Thursday, November 30, 2006 Updated: Friday, August 22, 2014
      Most religions say that life is much more than the flesh and matter we see around us. In addition, there is supposed to be some sort of spiritual or supernatural realm behind it all and that our "true selves" is spiritual, not material. All evidence, though, points to life being a purely natural phenomenon. All evidence indicates that who we really are — our selves — is material and dependent upon the workings of the brain. If this is so, religious and theistic doctrines are wrong.
    • Science is Not a Religion: Why Science and Scientific Research are not Religions Created: Tuesday, July 25, 2006 Updated: Friday, August 22, 2014
      Calling science a religion should be instantly recognized as an ideological attack rather than a neutral observation of facts. Sadly this is not the case, and it has become far too common for critics of modern, godless science to claim that it's inherently a religion, thus hoping to discredit scientific research when it contradicts genuine religious ideology. Examining the characteristics which define religions as distinct from other types of belief systems reveals how wrong such claims are.
    • No Reason to Believe in Gods: Without Good Reasons, Belief is Impossible Created: Thursday, November 30, 2006 Updated: Friday, August 22, 2014
      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.
    • Profile of the Messiah, Annointed One and God's Chosen Leader of the Jews Created: Tuesday, April 26, 2005 Updated: Friday, August 22, 2014
      Messiah is a title, not a person. The Hebrew form is mashiah and the Greek form is Christos, commonly rendered in English as Christ. For Jews, the Messiah is the 'anointed' or 'consecrated' one. Kings, priests, and prophets were all anointed in some fashion, but the Messiah is typically regarded as the perfect union of all three: a king, priest, and prophet picked by God to lead his chosen people.
    • How Reliable Are the Gospel Stories? Created: Sunday, November 19, 2006 Updated: Friday, August 22, 2014
      Everyone probably knows that the first written records of Jesus' life appear several decades after he would have died. Not everyone seems to understand what the implications of this are. Given such a long time span during which nothing more than oral transmission would have existed, just how reliable can we count on the gospels being? In any other context, people wouldn't trust them much.
    • Infants and Uninformed Children are Atheists Created: Sunday, November 19, 2006 Updated: Friday, August 22, 2014
      Do infants and very young children qualify as atheists? Most atheists will say so, working from the definition of atheism as 'lacking belief in gods.' Theists tend to reject this definition, even if they don't use the narrow definition of atheism as "denial of gods." Why? If infants lack belief in the existence of gods, they can't be theists - so why not atheists?
    • Critiques of Secularism: Common Religious, Christian Objections to Secularism Created: Wednesday, November 29, 2006 Updated: Friday, August 22, 2014
      Secularism had not always been regarded as a universal good. There are many today who not only fail to find secularism and the process of secularization to be beneficial, but who argue that it is the source of all society's ills. According to them, abandoning secularism in favor of a more explicitly religious basis for politics and culture would produce a more stable, more moral, and ultimately better social order. Are their critiques of secularism reasonable and accurate?
    • Isn't Atheism the Same as Communism? Doesn't Atheism Lead to Communism? Created: Wednesday, November 29, 2006 Updated: Friday, August 22, 2014
      A common complaint made by theists, typically those of the fundamentalist variety, is that atheism and/or humanism are essentially socialist or communist in nature. Thus, atheism and humanism should be rejected since socialism and communism are evil. Evidence indicates that bigotry and prejudice towards atheists in America is due in no small part to anti-communist activism by conservatives Christians in America, so this claimed connection has had serious consequences for American atheists.
    • Are Paranormal Beliefs Similar to Religious Beliefs? Created: Thursday, May 05, 2005 Updated: Friday, August 22, 2014
      Is there a real connection between religion and belief in the paranormal? Some, particularly adherents of various religious faiths, will often argue that the two very different types of beliefs. Those who stand outside of religion, however, will notice some very important similarities which bear closer consideration.
    • Defining Religion: Older Dictionaries on the Definition of Religion Created: Thursday, May 05, 2005 Updated: Friday, August 22, 2014
      Every dictionary has a definition of religion, but not every definition is equally good. Some are decent, but others are horrible. Sometimes older dictionaries have better definitions than newer ones, but more recent comprehensive dictionaries tend to have the better overall definitions of all. It's easier to understand what religion is if you understand the advantages and disadvantages of some of the more commonly cited definitions found in dictionaries.
    • Top Myths About Atheism & Atheists: Answers, Refutations, Responses Created: Wednesday, December 06, 2006 Updated: Tuesday, August 19, 2014
      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.
    • Evolution is a Scientific Theory: Evolution Meets Criteria for Scientific Theory Created: Friday, August 21, 2009 Updated: Friday, August 15, 2014
      Creationists frequently complain that evolution isn't valid or genuine science, but exactly the opposite is the case: evolution meets the criteria generally accepted by scientists as defining scien...
    • Flaws in Theistic, Religious Morality: Religion, Theism aren't Needed for Values Created: Thursday, July 20, 2006 Updated: Thursday, August 14, 2014
      Moral values can differ from religion to religion, but there are common themes in religious moral systems which can be identified and criticized. There are flaws in most religious systems of morality and thus a basis for rejecting the idea that religion is necessary for moral values.
    • Catholic Liberation Theology in Latin-America Created: Wednesday, February 23, 2005 Updated: Thursday, August 14, 2014
      The primary architect of liberation theology in the Latin-American and Catholic context is Gustavo Gutierrez. A Catholic priest who grew up in grinding poverty in Peru, Gutierrez employed Marx’s critiques of ideology, class, and capitalism as part of his theological analysis of how Christianity should be used to make people’s lives better here and now rather than simply offer them hope of rewards in heaven.
    • Introduction to the Ten Commandments Created: Monday, December 06, 2004 Updated: Thursday, August 14, 2014
      Quite a few politicians and citizens want the government to display the Ten Commandments on public grounds and in various government buildings, like schools. In such a situation, it becomes reasonable to ask: What exactly are these 'Ten Commandments'? What many don’t realize is that there aren’t really 'the' Ten Commandments; instead, there are multiple versions of the Ten Commandments.
    • Myth: Atheists Have No Reason to be Moral, No Basis for Morality Created: Wednesday, December 06, 2006 Updated: Thursday, August 14, 2014
      The idea that atheists have no reason to be moral without a god or religion may be the most popular and repeated myth about atheism out there. It comes up in a variety of forms, but all of them are based on the assumption that the only valid source of morality is a theistic religion, preferably the religion of the speaker which is usually Christianity. Thus without Christianity, people cannot live moral lives. This is supposed to be a reason reject atheism and convert to Christianity.
    • In God We Trust - Trusting in God as a National Motto Created: Thursday, September 24, 2009 Updated: Thursday, August 14, 2014
      The use of such a patently religious phrase for a national motto is used by fundamentalists as an excuse to have the government promote their beliefs.
    • Flaws in Reasoning and Arguments: Avoiding the Question Created: Thursday, February 17, 2005 Updated: Thursday, August 14, 2014
      When trying to make a case for some position or idea, we frequently encounter questions which challenge the coherency or validity of that position. When we are able to adequately answer those questions, our position becomes stronger. When we cannot answer the questions, then our position is weaker. If, however, we avoid the question altogether, then our reasoning process itself is revealed as possibly weak.
    • Values Voters: Evangelicals, Religious Values, and Government Created: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 Updated: Wednesday, July 30, 2014
      Conservative evangelical Christians often use the label 'values voters' to describe those who vote on the basis of religious values. At least, that's what they would like everyone to think - the label sounds nice and broad, but it incorrectly assumes that all religious believers not only have the same values, but also the same ideas about how those values should be reflected in public policy.
    • Uncertainty vs. Doubt: Criticism and Skepticism as Rebellion Created: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 Updated: Wednesday, July 30, 2014
      Are you uncertain about the existence of God? Do you doubt the existence of God? Most people would probably regard the two states as being identical, or at least identical in all of the essentials, but that would be incorrect. Uncertainty and doubt are surely related, but if we look closely at them we find that they are quite different in the underlying attitudes.
    • God & Goodness: Can God's Goodness be Judged by Humans? Created: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 Updated: Wednesday, July 30, 2014
      It is common for Christians and adherents of other major religions like Islam and Judaism it describe their god as "good" or even 'perfectly good.' At the same time, though, it is obvious to even the most casual observer that there is a great deal of evil in the world. The aforementioned religions also commonly describe their god has having prepared a form of eternal punishment for those who fail to live up to certain standards of behavior and/or belief.
    • What Does it Mean to be a Christian Nation? Created: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 Updated: Wednesday, July 30, 2014
      America's Christian Right likes to talk a lot about how America is a 'Christian' Nation. Do you ever see them explaining exactly what they mean, though? No. The fact of the matter is, 'Christian' has a lot of different possible meanings, many of which are contradictory. Either the Christian Right is ignorant of this fact or, more likely, they are using the ambiguity for political purposes.
    • Peace and the Bible: Understanding the True Nature of Religious Peace Created: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 Updated: Wednesday, July 30, 2014
      Major world religions want to achieve peace, right? Perhaps - but before we get too happy about that, perhaps we should ask what sort of peace they want. Not all forms of peace are equal: some forms of peace allow everyone to live freely; other forms of peace require that some submit to subjugation. Peace is the absence of war, but not necessarily the presence of justice.
    • Religions as Totalizing, Absolute Systems Created: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 Updated: Wednesday, July 30, 2014
      It's true that there are lots of problems with religions, but it's also true that problems exist with all human belief systems. Why is it, then, that problems sometimes seem to be worse when it comes to religion? It's not that hard to understand: religions demand far more commitment and passion from adherents than just about any other type of system out there.
    • Popularity of the Apocalypse Among American Christians Created: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 Updated: Wednesday, July 30, 2014
      It seems that the most popular Christian fiction books today (and they are fiction, something that readers don't always seem to keep firmly in mind) are about an apocalypse in the future. This isn't a fad or a fluke: apocalyptic books have been massively popular with Christians for years, if not decades.
    • Christian Fundamentalism and the Fear of Modernity Created: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 Updated: Wednesday, July 30, 2014
      It is curious that the Christian Right is so antagonistic towards homosexuals and homosexuality. On the whole, gays are a relatively small minority in society and as such pose little threat to Christianity or Christians' lives. Most Christians could probably live their entire lives having little contact with gays and without noticing homosexuality.
    • Myths About Relationship Between Religion & Government Created: Thursday, October 01, 2009 Updated: Friday, July 18, 2014
      In arguing against church/state separation, Christian Nationalists promote myths, misconceptions, and even lies about the relationship between religion and government. Confusing people about how re...
    • Religion and the Public Square - Religion's Role in the Public Square Created: Thursday, November 12, 2009 Updated: Friday, July 18, 2014
      Does a 'naked public square' end up demeaning religion and discriminate against religious believers? No, because strict separation of church and state does not demean or discriminate against religi...
    • Agnostic Theism Cannot Exist? Agnostic Theists Cannot Exist? Created: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 Updated: Friday, July 18, 2014
      Agnosticism is the label applied to not knowing for sure if any gods exist; theism is the label for belief in at least one god of some sort. Some people argue that the two aren't compatible because every religion demands believers to know for sure that their god exists. If any believer says that they don't know for sure, even though they continue believing anyway, then they cannot remain good adherents of their religion anymore. This is not a valid objection to the concept of agnostic theism.
    • America’s Godless Public Schools: Value of a Godless Education, Godless Schools Created: Thursday, July 20, 2006 Updated: Friday, July 18, 2014
      One of the preeminent battlegrounds for the Christian Right's war on modernity is America's secular public school system. The Christian Right cannot stand the fact that instead of infusing the entire curriculum with their brand of conservative Christian principles, the government maintains a neutral stance on religion with a secular system. The godlessness of America's public schools is an advantage, not a defect. Public schools should be secular, not extensions of religious institutions.
    • You Might Be a Militant Atheist If... Created: Saturday, June 19, 2010 Updated: Friday, July 18, 2014
      It's common to hear religious theists complain about "militant atheists," but just what is a militant atheist? What separates militant atheists from regular (pacifist?) atheists? It's not always ea...

    ©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.