Sex and Taboos in Orthodox Judaism

In the past, I've poked fun at the Catholic church for the logical contortions it goes through to get around the problems it creates for itself with its nonsensical decrees about sex. But the Catholics are far from the only sect that has laughably ridiculous rules about sex, nor are they the only sect that goes to absurd ends to get around the problems those rules create. So, today I'm going to write about a particularly hilarious example which, like the last one, I first heard about from my … [Read more...]

They Have No Answer

The other day, I came across an essay titled "Staining the Silence" on Vox Nova, a Catholic group blog. The author, Mark Gordon, writes about how his son was deployed to combat in Iraq in 2007, how he feared for his safety as any parent would, and how at first he prayed every day for his son's safe return. But as time went by, he found himself unable to avoid an obvious and unpleasant realization: tens of thousands of parents, despite offering countless prayers of their own, had seen their sons … [Read more...]

My Notes on the Ideological Turing Test

Following up my post analyzing the results of Unequally Yoked's ideological Turing test, this one lists how I voted on each of the atheist candidates. I took notes as I was going through them, trying to flag what stood out to me as evidence of genuineness or fakery. As you can see, some of my criteria turned out to work, some of them didn't.#1This person had an excellent answer for the first question, discussing how science has consistently been a superior method of illuminating the truth … [Read more...]

Thoughts on the Ideological Turing Test

The ideological Turing test that was running at Unequally Yoked has concluded, and if you're like me, you couldn't wait to find out how we did. Well, the results are in: here's the answer key (some real surprises there!), and here's how the voting shook out for the atheist round and for the Christian round. Read those first, and then come back for my thoughts on the outcome.First of all, I want to thank Leah for running this contest, and I especially want to commend her Christian participants. … [Read more...]

Strange and Curious Sects: David Koresh

In a 2008 post on the apocalyptic Millerite sect, I mentioned how several modern Christian denominations were formed from the Millerites' ruin, and how the infamous Branch Davidians originated as a splinter group from one of these. That story, I think, is already well-known: the way a charismatic preacher born as Vernon Wayne Howell changed his name to David Koresh and took control of the group; how he began to proclaim himself a prophet and the reincarnated Son of God; how he decreed that all … [Read more...]

On the Morality of: Circumcision

"And the Lord said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that … [Read more...]

The Contributions of Freethinkers: Asa Philip Randolph

The civil rights movement in America is often identified with Christianity. In large part this is because of the influence of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was a Baptist minister and worked the language and cadence of sermons into his most famous speeches - especially the famous paraphrase of the Book of Amos, "We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."But the civil rights movement wasn't organized or led solely by Christians. As … [Read more...]

Book Review: Losing My Religion

Summary: A hard-hitting and emotionally moving story of a religion reporter's deconversion, despite a few lingering blind spots.Losing My Religion is the autobiography of William Lobdell, the religion reporter turned atheist whom I wrote about in 2007. I briefly mentioned the outline of his story in my previous post, but this book is a much more in-depth account of how he found, and then ultimately lost, his faith. Despite some significant weaknesses, which I'll get to, it's a powerful, honest … [Read more...]

Strange But True: The Misnumbered Pope

I've been reading Bob Curran's book Unholy Popes, an extremely amusing chronicle of papal misbehavior over the centuries and the more infamous scandals and shenanigans attributed to the various men who've held the seat. There have been periods of decades when Rome was rife with corruption, nepotism, bribery, and at times, open warfare and murder over the papal succession. There have been times when no one was pope and times when there were multiple contenders, each one claiming to be the true … [Read more...]

The Mormon Test

This is a guest post by Leah of Unequally Yoked.  Adam is on vacation.When in argument with Christians, it can be hard to find a good way to explain why you doubt their precepts.  John Loftus has a good idea with his Outsider's Test for Faith, but most Christians believe that their faith can pass the test; it's hard to show them how their faith looks if you haven't been steeped in it.Sometimes I've tried comparing and contrasting with other, conflicting denominations and asking why I should f … [Read more...]


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