Jesus Never Laughed

In The Case for Christ, evangelical psychologist (and demon-believer) Dr. Gary Collins rendered this appraisal of the mental health of Jesus:"We don't see psychological difficulties in Jesus. He spoke clearly, powerfully and eloquently. He was brilliant and had absolutely amazing insights into human nature. He was loving but didn't let his compassion immobilize him; he didn't have a bloated ego, even though he was often surrounded by adoring crowds; he maintained balance despite an often … [Read more...]

Some More Election Thoughts

My earlier post, "Election Special 2008", didn't fully do justice to all the things I wanted to say about this election. I decided it would be better split into two parts, and here's the second part.First, the historic: A nation built by slaves, that fought a bloody civil war over emancipation, and that has grappled with the poisonous legacy of racism since its founding, has chosen a black man to be its President. Many of those who marched in the civil rights movement, who lived through … [Read more...]

Faith Comes First

A few months ago, a theist contacted me by e-mail to claim that her church, the Mormons, had fulfilled many of the criteria set forth in my essay "The Theist's Guide to Converting Atheists". There was one criterion she thought was unfair of me to list - evidence of miraculous occurrences brought about through prayer:This one is rough, mainly because faith must precede the miracle.Similarly, another theist who contacted me by e-mail claimed that it didn't matter whether anyone could answer … [Read more...]

Election Special 2008: The World Is Changing

The votes have been cast, the balloons have come down, the champagne has popped and the confetti has been thrown, and we're officially on the other side of the 2008 elections. Atheists and progressives have much to chew over in these results, and here are some preliminary thoughts of mine. In this post I'll address three different, related subjects that I've been mulling over. Incidentally, in my Monday night open thread, I made some predictions about last night's results; if you want to see how … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Election Predictions

As the world's eyes turn to America and tomorrow's election, I just have to join in. This is an open thread for election predictions, rumors, speculation, results reporting, and whatever else you can think of. Once the polls have closed and the results are all in, I hope to write a longer post, most likely to be put up Wednesday, analyzing the results.So, what do you think is going to happen? I have three predictions:Barack Obama is going to be the next President of the United States. This … [Read more...]

Popular Delusions XI: Satanic Ritual Abuse

One of the surest marks of a pseudoscience is that it stays forever the same, never altering its claims, even as the world changes around it and revolutions in our knowledge come and go. While science evolves over time, with theories becoming refined to more closely track the truth, popular delusions stay the same through the centuries, at most changing their outer robes to match the spirit of the times.I wrote about this in a past entry in this series, in which the demonic succubi and incubi … [Read more...]

The Tempter Returns

I awoke from my sleep with a start.It had been a long and wearisome day. I had turned in early, as the late autumn light waned from the sky, and it was now dark and deep outside my window. But now something had roused me, and I had the distinct feeling that I was not alone.I went from room to room, searching for intruders. At first glance, my home seemed silent and empty. The Observatory was silent, its holographic displays a pale flickering in the darkness. The screens in the Rotunda were … [Read more...]

We Are Myriad

Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)—Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself"Creationists who think themselves clever sometimes ask why, if evolution is true, we don't see bacteria re-evolving into multicellular organisms. But, as is often true of creationists, this taunt gets the situation completely backwards. Evolution is not a teleological march of progress but a blind algorithm, concerned exclusively with reproductive … [Read more...]

In Praise of Massachusetts Liberals

In the 2004 American presidential campaign, the label "Massachusetts liberal" was used as an epithet by Republican against the Democratic candidate John Kerry. In the argot of conservatives, the term signifies a candidate who is unacceptably far left, out of the mainstream of American politics - as indicated by their association with the prosperous, well-educated, gay-friendly state of Massachusetts. (See Conservapedia, which, as always, is not a parody.)I find it interesting that this term … [Read more...]

On the Morality of: Conservation

Today's post on morality concerns environmental conservation and sustainability. Human civilization has historically behaved (and many still do behave) as if the Earth was there to be conquered and natural resources were limitless. Environmental devastation is not solely the product of industrialized society; ancient cultures did the same thing, even those with tools no more sophisticated than the hand ax. For instance, as Jared Diamond wrote in his book Collapse, the reason for the … [Read more...]


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