On Expertise

One of the most common complaints leveled against Richard Dawkins (and other atheist writers) is that his understanding of religion isn't sufficiently sophisticated - that he dismisses religion without delving into all its intricacies of doctrine. For instance, Terry Eagleton:What, one wonders, are Dawkins's views on the epistemological differences between Aquinas and Duns Scotus? Has he read Eriugena on subjectivity, Rahner on grace or Moltmann on hope? Has he even heard of them?What any … [Read more...]

The Contributions of Freethinkers: W.E.B. Du Bois

It's often been observed that atheism, or at least outspoken atheism, seems rarer among America's black community than among American society in general. Although I don't know why that's true, I suspect that it may stem from the tendency of a minority group, especially one that's often discriminated against by wider society, to seek to preserve its heritage and uphold its distinctiveness by emphasizing a shared cultural identity.Regardless, it would be unfortunate if the black community in … [Read more...]

The Fading of the Church

The growth of atheism is coming at the expense of religion. As freethought makes gains in society, it will inevitably start by appealing to those who are religious only by default - the people who go to church because they've never known an alternative, those who are receptive to our message and easily persuaded. And as their members join us or simply drift away, the larger, established churches are bound to begin feeling the sting of declining membership. There are encouraging signs that this … [Read more...]

Do You Really Believe That? (The Missing Pages)

Of all the major faiths in the world today, few surpass the bizarreness of Mormonism. The church was founded in the 1830s by Joseph Smith, Jr., who claimed to have been guided by an angel to a set of buried golden plates which he miraculously gained the ability to translate. These plates, supposedly, were the records of a lost American civilization, descended from a family of ancient Jews who had sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and founded a large, advanced society in the New World. After … [Read more...]

It Pays to Advertise

I have a remarkable story to share with you all:Last Friday, I had made plans to go out with some friends after work. At the end of the day, I debated whether to go and meet them directly or whether to go back to my apartment first and change, but I ultimately decided to go home first. The subway was jam-packed, and the first train that arrived was too crowded to get on. Likewise the second. I was getting impatient and determined not to miss the third, so I went all the way down to the end of … [Read more...]

Poetry Sunday: In Westminster Abbey

Today's poem was one I first read in Christopher Hitchens' The Portable Atheist. This is slightly odd since its author was not an atheist himself. However, this poem is a biting little satire of prayer, one whose point is all the more valid for having been made by a believer, and as such, it makes for a good entry in this series.John Betjeman was an English poet who lived during the twentieth century. He studied at Oxford, where he ultimately left without obtaining a degree. While there, he … [Read more...]

A Voice in the Crowd

In "The Bubble", I discussed how religious sects shelter their members from criticism by creating isolated worlds where only orthodox viewpoints are heard from. No doubt, this insularity creates a serious obstacle for atheists and freethinkers who want to promote the message of reason. How can we even begin to persuade people unless we can reach them? How do we pierce that bubble and get our message where it needs to be heard the most?Obviously, there's no secret key to this. No special choice … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses XI: Polygamy

In recent years, anti-gay bigots operating under the guise of "defending traditional marriage" have made many statements like this one:"Since the dawn of mankind, the sacred bond of marriage has been correctly defined as a union between one woman and one man....Our views on marriage are shaped not only by America's laws, but by God's laws. It is part of the shared heritage of the civilized world."—Pat Boone, "Marriage: One man, one woman". Knight Ridder, 14 May 2004.Pat Boone is … [Read more...]

Advice to Publicists: Know Your Audience

A publicist who obviously didn't read my site very carefully sent me this e-mail:Subject: wow...website is giving away free psychic readings with a famous psychicThought your audience would be interested in this. The savvy staff from the site, wowOwow.com, is offering a refer-a-friend sweepstakes that's unlike anything else ...wowOwow.com, whose contributors include Whoopi Goldberg, Marlo Thomas and "60 Minutes" Lesley Stahl, is offering four people the chance to win a free psychic … [Read more...]

The Bubble

The Evangelical Outpost, a major Christian blog, last week published a positive review of Nancy Pearcey's book Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity. In it, Pearcey argues that true Christians must purge their thinking of evolution and all other secular ideas and philosophies:Most Christians are more secular then they realize, and this must change if the Church is to have any sort of significant cultural impact... Christians must counter the affects [sic] of … [Read more...]


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