On the Morality of: Forgiveness

Today's post on morality takes up the topic of forgiveness for wrongdoing. In superstitious times, forgiveness was obtained through magical rituals. Most of these assumed that guilt could in some fashion be transferred to an animal or other being, which was then killed or driven off to provide a symbolic expiation. Leviticus 4 explains: Say to the people of Israel, If any one sins unwittingly in any of the things which the Lord has commanded not to be done, and does any one of them, if it is … [Read more...]

Invincible Ignorance

The number of different religions on this planet is vast, and all their associated arguments and apologetics form a library that's vaster still. No matter how well-read or well-traveled any atheist is, they're bound to run into claims every so often that they've never heard before. It happens to me at least once a month, on average. And I have to admit, when I first hear a religious apologetic or miracle claim that's new to me, often my initial response is to feel a little tremor, as I wonder, … [Read more...]

A Cold and Sterile Heaven

The other day while browsing in the library, I found out that Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, authors of the Left Behind series, have also written a trilogy of prequels. (As long as Christians continue to purchase these awful books, it seems, they intend to keep churning them out.) The final installment of this trilogy is called The Rapture, and it's about just that, written from the point of view of the faithful Christians who are miraculously transported to Heaven. Much of the book is taken up … [Read more...]

Some Items of Note

I have two short announcements to bring to your attention: • Daylight Atheism commenter Eshu has started his own blog, Bridging Schisms. If the first few posts are any indication, it ought to be a fine addition to the ranks of the atheist blogosphere. Go check it out and tell him I sent you! • John Loftus of Debunking Christianity will soon be releasing a book, Why I Became an Atheist. I haven't read it yet, but he's collected some superb endorsements. It definitely ought to be worth … [Read more...]

Do You Really Believe That? (Abrogation)

Today's installment of "Do You Really Believe That?" will leave behind Judaic and Christian mythologies to examine a doctrine specific to Islam, the doctrine of abrogation. This belief holds that Allah originally revealed certain practices and rules to Mohammed, only to later issue new revelations which canceled the earlier ones and instituted different practices in their place. In Arabic, this is usually called al-Nasikh wal-Mansoukh ("the Abrogator and the Abrogated"). It should be said that … [Read more...]

Book Review: Infidel

Summary: Brilliant, brave, inspiring. Read this book. In 2004, the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered in the street by a Muslim fanatic, Mohammed Bouyeri, who was enraged by van Gogh's production of a film titled Submission which criticizes the mistreatment of women in Islamic societies. Van Gogh's murderer shot him eight times, cut his throat, and left a letter pinned to his body with a butcher knife. The letter was addressed to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. It said, in essence, "You're next." If … [Read more...]

Poetry Sunday: Fern Hill

For my northern hemisphere readers, the full flush of summer has arrived. In honor of the season, I've picked an appropriate poem for this installment of Poetry Sunday: the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas' idyllic, evocative hymn to nature and childhood, "Fern Hill", from his 1946 collection Deaths and Entrances. Born in 1914, Dylan Thomas was named in honor of his uncle, a Unitarian minister. He moved to London in 1934 and that same year published his first volume of poetry, 18 Poems, which was highly … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Site Slowness, Continued

I'm aware that this site has been having problems loading these past few days. I assure you all, I'm just as frustrated by it as you are. In a way, it's good news - these are a sort of growing pains; the slowness is at least in part because of the steady increases in traffic I've been getting. But these response times are intolerable, and I assure you all I'm working with my host to get it fixed as soon as possible. If you're still having slowness, or if you're not, please comment about it here … [Read more...]

Quintessence of Dust

One of the most persistent misconceptions about atheism is that, if there is no supernatural soul and human beings are made merely of atoms and molecules, then our lives would be deprived of meaning. Asserts Christian apologist Phil Fernandes: If atheism is true, then man is mere molecules in motion. He has no greater value than the animals. In fact, human life would be no more sacred than the existence of a rock. This conclusion betrays a very warped view of the nature of worth and value. … [Read more...]

The Harm Psychics Do

Out of Toronto, this jaw-dropping story: Colleen Leduc, a local mother, was accused by school officials of letting her autistic daughter Victoria be sexually abused - based on the word of a psychic! (HT: Boing Boing). Leduc's weird tale began on May 30, when she dropped young Victoria off for class at Terry Fox Elementary and headed in to work, only to receive a frantic phone call from the school telling her it was urgent she come back right away. The frightened mother rushed back to the … [Read more...]