Movie Review: The Da Vinci Code

I recently had an opportunity to see The Da Vinci Code, the movie based on Dan Brown's novel that alleges a sensational plot by the Catholic church to cover up the truth about the origins of Christianity.First things first: Yes, I did enjoy the movie, and I do recommend it. Without a doubt, its plot mixes historical fact, speculation and pure fantasy in a slipshod way, and anyone who believes events literally happened that way is taking it far too seriously and giving it credibility that it … [Read more...]

New on Ebon Musings: The Great Sage's Visit

A new essay, "The Great Sage's Visit", has been posted on Ebon Musings. The article poses the question of how people would react if some of the moral atrocities typical of the Bible and other holy books instead appeared in the writings of a human held up as a high authority on ethics.This is an open thread. Comments and feedback are welcome. … [Read more...]

A Modest Proposal to Humiliate Fred Phelps

Inspired by a recent post by Pam Spaulding about the antics of Fred Phelps and his clan of lunatic hatemongers, I'd like to propose an idea for how this group could be humiliated, and possibly even stopped altogether.The sole raison d'etre of Phelps' church is to travel around the country picketing anything and everything that they believe demonstrates pro-gay sentiments. Although they have branched out somewhat, much of their ire still seems to be directed at the play The Laramie Project, … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses II: Saving Ourselves

A major theme in modern evangelical Christianity is that humankind is completely depraved, that we are helpless to redeem ourselves by our own efforts and only by trusting in Jesus' redemptive death on the cross can we be freed from sin. But, according to the Christians' own holy text, this is not true. Scripture gives explicit instructions for how human beings can save themselves without God's help, as we can see in the following little-known Bible verse.Then answered the Lord unto Job out … [Read more...]

The Power of Christ Compels You

Earlier tonight I received a highly amusing e-mail whose author seemed confident that I would cease to be an atheist if I performed a magical ritual of their devising. I do not normally post feedback e-mail in full, but since this one was sent to me anonymously, I have no qualms in doing so:From: Anonymous <anonymous@anonymous.net> Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2006 20:23:12 -0400 Subject: Want To Prove that You are a Real Atheist? TAKE THIS TEST!!!!!!!Want to prove that you are a real … [Read more...]

Groundhog Day

Despite their fervent denials of evolution, the religious right constantly shows by their own behavior that humanity is more closely related to the rest of the animal kingdom than they would like to admit. Just consider, as an example, how uncannily similar their behavior is to the common groundhog. Just as the groundhog's annual emergence foretells whether there will be a continuation of winter, so too on every even-numbered year in America, the religious right crawls out of its hole. If it … [Read more...]

Why Do We Care?

"I'm unsure where I really stand on this book or the ideas in it, but would really love to know your true motives for writing the review. It seems so obvious, but if you actually believed (or didn't believe) what you claim, you would spend your energy elsewhere. Why do you care?" --from a recent feedback received on Ebon Musings "Doubt, like faith, has to be learned. It is a skill. But the curious thing about skepticism is that its adherents, ancient and modern, have so often been proselytizers. … [Read more...]

Popular Delusions I: Astrology

I do not regularly read the New York Daily News, which could be generously described as a tabloid, but two juxtaposed stories in the May 29 edition happened to catch my attention, and not in a good way. To the right is a scan of the page (click for larger version):As readers can see for themselves, just below a story on the birth of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's newborn daughter is an article by the paper's astrology columnist, Susan Miller, confidently asserting what the girl's personality … [Read more...]

It's Your First Amendment Too

An important fact that the modern-day religious right does not grasp is that the principle of church-state separation, which they revile so bitterly, was enacted for their benefit. It is probably not a coincidence that in Europe, where many nations still have established churches that are a legacy of earlier ages, church attendance is dropping precipitously, whereas in the United States, which has always had a vigorous tradition of separation, churches and sects of all kinds flourish and … [Read more...]

Fossil Fuels

For more than a hundred years of human history, the words "the 21st century" were used as shorthand for the distant, advanced future. Utopians and futurists looked forward to an era of transformation, when knowledge and will would reshape human society almost beyond recognition. Now we are in the 21st century, and we can see for ourselves how those prognostications have fared. In many ways they have fallen short. We still have war, crime, disease and poverty; we do not have flying cars, … [Read more...]


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