Weekly Link Roundup

• Despite the good sense shown by the British Medical Association in lambasting homeopathy at their annual conference last month, the UK National Health Service has announced that it will still pay for water and sugar pills passed off as medicine.• A court in Utah has thrown out the rape conviction of Mormon cult leader Warren Jeffs, due to a legal technicality, and ordered that the case be retried. Texas is still seeking to have him extradited to face similar charges, so it seems … [Read more...]

Relics and Faith

Guest post by Peter NothnagleOn June 30, someone stole a piece of the True Cross (you know the one I mean) that was enshrined in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. It had been kept in a small compartment in the base of a crucifix hanging on a wall in a chapel. Someone walked in, pried it open, and helped himself. That was a mean thing to do.The faithful are very attached to their sacred relics. They see these bits of bone, cloth, vegetable matter, and globs of goo as links to the … [Read more...]

Reengineering Human Nature: Dogmatism

The Problem: Human beings are stubborn creatures, set in our ways, resistant to changing our minds once we've made a decision. Religious groups publish creeds which they believe must be taken on faith and should be maintained against all contrary evidence - and they consider the ability to do that a virtue, rather than a character flaw. Even when dramatic disconfirmation comes, such as the apocalypse failing to occur on a predicted date, a common response is for believers to become even more … [Read more...]

The Bechdel Test for Religion

If you're an informed observer of media, you may have heard of the so-called Bechdel test, popularized by cartoonist Alison Bechdel, that's used to judge the female-friendliness of movies and other media. For a movie to pass this test, it has to have:(1) two or more female characters; (2) who talk to each other; (3) about something other than a man.Despite this being such a low hurdle - it doesn't establish that the movie is in any way feminist, merely that it treats women as something more … [Read more...]

Meet a Foundation Beyond Belief Member

Editor's Note: Back in March, I wrote an essay encouraging atheists to join the Foundation Beyond Belief, a new charitable group doing good for human beings and the world in the name of freethought. I also offered to write a front-page post interviewing anyone who agreed to join the Foundation as a result of hearing about it on my site. This is the next in that series of interviews. Please welcome Petrucio!Tell us a little about yourself. Who are you, where do you live, what do you … [Read more...]

Two Responses to the Theist’s Guide

Earlier this month, Greta Christina published a piece on AlterNet, based on my essay "The Theist's Guide to Converting Atheists", that listed things that would convince her of God's existence. She also repeated the challenge I posed to theists - prove that your beliefs are falsifiable by posting a corresponding list of things that would convince you to become an atheist.The AlterNet post got hundreds of comments, and netted a total of two responses. In this post, I'll briefly analyze them … [Read more...]

The Iron Curtain of Censorship

Well, it looks like we can add Russia to the list of countries where it's illegal to criticize religion:Two Russian museum curators were found guilty of "inciting religious hatred" for displaying a painting of Jesus Christ with Mickey Mouse's head superimposed.     A Moscow court ordered the two men, Yuri Samodurov and Andrei Yerofeyev, to pay fines of £4,200 each.     They ruled that a 2007 exhibition in Moscow called "Forbidden Art" had caused … [Read more...]

The God of the Reptile Brain

Evolution is a blind tinkerer, lacking the foresight of human engineers. Rarely, if ever, does it discard established designs and start over fresh, even when that would be more efficient. Instead, it builds on and around past adaptations, using the old as a foundation for the new. This is true throughout the biosphere, and it's especially true of one of the most complex structures ever evolved, the human brain. The physical architecture of the mind shows, through and through, the evolutionary … [Read more...]

Selling Shame: How Christians Profit from Porn

As everyone knows, porn is big business. To cite just one example, ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, recently approved the creation of an .xxx top-level domain. ICM Registry, a company that plans to sell the new domain names, says it already has more than 110,000 pre-reservations, and expects to make over $200 million annually from selling them.But strangely enough, it's not just godless sinners who are turning a profit off porn. Believe it or not, Christian … [Read more...]

Creationists Flee from Criticism

A few weeks ago, I was alerted by a Google alert to a post, "Conversation With An Atheist", on the site Everyday Christian. Since I'm always interested to find Christians who want to converse with atheists, to see what they have to say about us and to us, I checked it out. It turned out to be a fairly run-of-the-mill creationist argument by a Christian apologist named Jack Wellman.Since my interest was piqued, I posted a comment in reply to Mr. Wellman, and then another when he responded (you … [Read more...]


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