New on Ebon Musings: Red Crimes

A new essay, "Red Crimes", has been posted on Ebon Musings. The essay surveys the crimes committed during the 20th century by totalitarian communist regimes, and critically examines the claim that atheism was in some way responsible for the bloodshed they caused.This is an open thread. Comments and discussion are welcome. … [Read more...]

Witch Hysteria Is Alive and Well

One of the great tragedies of the human species is the violence and turmoil still happening in Africa. Africa is the continent of our origins, the place of our species' birth, and the one place on Earth to which everyone now living can trace their ultimate ancestry. It should be a place of peace and human togetherness, an enduring and living monument to our past. Instead, the continent is still struggling to overcome the shameful legacy of colonialism and its own ethnic divisions, and much of it … [Read more...]

The Virtues: Be Compassionate

The second of the Virtues is compassion. The Latin roots of this word literally mean "suffering together", but I think this captures at most one-half of what it means to be compassionate, and the less important half at that. While being compassionate does include perceiving others' pain and distress and being motivated to relieve it, the far more important aspect of compassion is sharing not in others' suffering, but in their happiness and joy.My reasoning behind this conclusion is as follows: … [Read more...]

A Religion Not Made for Success

Were I inclined to believe in them, I would say that the New Testament gospels were a set of maddeningly strange and frustrating documents. Although they contain some beautiful ideas, they always stop just short of bringing them to their logical conclusions. They contain moving admonitions of universal love, but never go so far as to extend that compassion to women or the enslaved. Although Jesus is said to have had pity on the sick and the infirm who came to him and cured them of their … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses V: God Creates Evil

The passage that today's edition of "Little-Known Bible Verses" will examine is, if I say so myself, one of the most shocking in the entire Bible. In a book that contains talking snakes and donkeys, a man taking two of every living species to survive a flood in a wooden boat, and a god who hates pillows, shrimp, mixed fabrics, and fig trees for some reason, that is no mean feat, but I believe this verse lives up to that promise.The problem of evil has vexed Christian theologians for nearly two … [Read more...]

Kent Hovind Is Sentenced

After a nearly three-month wait, the wheels of our legal system have turned, and justice has been done at last: Kent Hovind, tax protestor and creationist con man extraordinaire, has been sentenced to ten years in federal prison for tax evasion. Hovind's wife Jo, who was also convicted on the same slate of charges, will be sentenced in March.When writing about Hovind's conviction back in November, I said:I think an eight- to twelve-year sentence would suit him well, although I suspect … [Read more...]

The Virtues: Be Mindful

As regular readers of Daylight Atheism are likely aware, morality is a major concern of mine, both in how ethical behavior finds its foundation and in how those principles can be applied to issues of everyday life. Mainly this is because I genuinely am interested in determining what best constitutes the good life, although I won't deny that my writings on this topic are also aimed at rebutting the tiresome claim that atheists are immoral or lack a basis for morality.But there is much left to … [Read more...]

In the Image of God

I have written previously about many different religious beliefs that cause harm to human lives, but today I intend to target a new one. This is the belief that human beings have not come into existence as the result of natural processes - or at least, not solely as the result of natural processes - but rather, that we were created "in the image of God" and owe our existence to him.On its surface, this seems like an unobjectionable and even noble teaching, one that has been used as … [Read more...]

Blockbuster

A Response to Ned Block's "Blockhead"In a classic 1981 paper titled "Psychologism and Behaviourism", the philosopher Ned Block proposed a thought experiment that has been dubbed "Blockhead" in his honor. Block's experiment has to do with the Turing test, itself a classic proposal on how to test for the presence of intelligence in a machine (or some other suitable non-human agent). The Turing test consists of a human, the judge, conversing via computer terminal with two agents. One of the … [Read more...]

Priming the Mind

In a previous post from Daylight Atheism titled "On Presuppositions" (all the way back in February 2006!), I wrote about how subconscious biases and prejudices, instilled in us by culture and surroundings, can exert a disturbingly measurable effect on our behavior. However, there is more to this story that deserves to be told. In the previous post, I wrote about persistent biases, those that are apparently supported and reinforced frequently enough over long enough periods of time to become … [Read more...]


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