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...]

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...]

The Confederacy: A Christian Theocracy

I've been perusing an issue of CSA News, the newsletter of a Kansas creationist group, written by a charming fellow named Tom Willis who believes that supporters of evolution should be denied the right to vote. Willis also says that "the facts warrant the violent expulsion of all evolutionists from civilized society" and apparently sees nothing strange about believing that evolution inspired both socialism and predatory capitalism, as well as both right-wing fascism and left-wing communism. But … [Read more...]

Who Says You Can't Disprove God?

By Michael Martin(Editor's Note: Welcome to Daylight Atheism's newest guest author! Most of you, I hope, have heard of Michael Martin, a professor emeritus of philosophy at Boston University and prominent author of books and scholarly papers defending atheism and naturalism. Some of his many published works include Atheism, Morality and Meaning (2002), The Big Domino in The Sky and Other Atheistic Tales (1996), The Case Against Christianity (1991), and Atheism: A Philosophical Justification … [Read more...]

On the Morality of: Torture

Thanks to revelations that the U.S. government has been using torture techniques such as waterboarding on people it suspects of being terrorists, this post is overdue. I find it unbelievable that, in the year 2008, it's actually a point of contention whether torture should be legal or not.Discussions of this issue in the media inevitably return to the "ticking-bomb" scenario - where torture is the only way to extract information from a captured terrorist in time to prevent a devastating … [Read more...]

Morality Is Not By Fiat

A few weeks back, I came across a charmingly nasty site called "Christian Cross Talk" whose author devoted his every entry to explaining in depth how and why he hates atheists and blames us for every problem in society. (Sadly, the site has apparently disappeared in the interim, or I'd give a link.) One of his posts presented itself as a point-by-point refutation of my atheist's creed. Quoted below are some of his responses to various points of the creed:Through the use of reason and … [Read more...]

Words That Burn

The winter of 1777-1778 was a bad time for the American revolutionary army. General George Washington had encamped his army at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania - an excellent position tactically, but a source of terrible misery and suffering for his weary, poorly equipped troops. The Continental Army was assailed by bitter cold and plagued by chronic shortages of food, shelter and warm clothes. Almost a fifth of the soldiers died of frostbite and disease, and the survivors' morale sank to its lowest … [Read more...]

Strange and Curious Sects: Sabbatai Zevi

Past editions of Strange and Curious Sects have explored religious splinter groups that came into existence relatively recently. Today's edition will focus on an older cult that still has lessons to teach us: the bizarre story of the would-be Jewish messiah, Sabbatai Zevi.Sabbatai Zevi was born in 1626, supposedly on the anniversary of the Roman destruction of the Temple, to a wealthy Sephardic Jewish family in Smyrna, modern-day Turkey. In his youth, he studied the Talmud and especially the … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses X: Don't Trust Your Heart

I first came across today's little-known Bible verse while reading The Pilgrim's Progress, and it was so amazing to me that I had to set the book aside and look it up on the spot. Search on the internet, and you'll find volumes of Christian apologetics seeking to justify the author's belief in God by claiming that they just know he exists because they can feel his presence in their heart:The imagination knows God and the heart knows God, but the conscience silences the whole person because of … [Read more...]

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...]


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