Do You Really Believe That? (Abrogation)

Today's installment of "Do You Really Believe That?" will leave behind Judaic and Christian mythologies to examine a doctrine specific to Islam, the doctrine of abrogation. This belief holds that Allah originally revealed certain practices and rules to Mohammed, only to later issue new revelations which canceled the earlier ones and instituted different practices in their place. In Arabic, this is usually called al-Nasikh wal-Mansoukh ("the Abrogator and the Abrogated").It should be said that … [Read more...]

Book Review: Infidel

Summary: Brilliant, brave, inspiring. Read this book.In 2004, the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered in the street by a Muslim fanatic, Mohammed Bouyeri, who was enraged by van Gogh's production of a film titled Submission which criticizes the mistreatment of women in Islamic societies. Van Gogh's murderer shot him eight times, cut his throat, and left a letter pinned to his body with a butcher knife.The letter was addressed to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. It said, in essence, "You're next."If … [Read more...]

The Bible's Broken Promises

In their endless quest to evangelize the world, Christian apologists like this one are prone to making grandiose claims about the supposed perfect accuracy of biblical prophecy:Unique among all books ever written, the Bible accurately foretells specific events - in detail - many years, sometimes centuries, before they occur. Approximately 2500 prophecies appear in the pages of the Bible, about 2000 of which already have been fulfilled to the letter — no errors.Needless to say, this claim r … [Read more...]

The Hopelessness of Life Without Cupid

Inspired by an analogy invented by Daniel Dennett, I have some thoughts for the benefit of those who believe that an atheist's life must necessarily be meaningless and nihilistic.Imagine that there's a society which, instead of God, believes in Cupid. This is the Cupid of Greek mythology, as co-opted by greeting card companies: the rosy-cheeked cherub with tiny wings, who flutters around firing magical arrows into people's hearts that make them fall in love. Imagine that people in this society … [Read more...]

Tainted Icons

More than most other belief systems, organized religion emphasizes tradition and continuity with the past. The historical figures who founded today's prominent churches are considered larger-than-life and thought of as possessing uncommon character and virtue. This is probably because religion is widely equated with morality; given this mistaken assumption, it follows that very religious people must also be very moral.But in fact, the opposite is true. Just as with the character of Jesus, many … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses IX: Better Miracles than Jesus

To Christian believers, Jesus of Nazareth was God incarnate and therefore possessed of omnipotent power. According to the Bible, he backed up this claim by doing many miracles while on earth - casting out demons, healing the sick and the crippled, calming storms, walking on water, producing food, and raising the dead. It would seem to be pure hubris for a lay believer to ever aspire to match such miraculous feats, much less entertain the unthinkable idea of surpassing them. But in fact, that's … [Read more...]

Dawn of the Dead: Are Zombies Possible?

Inspired by a recent post on Philosophy, et cetera, I want to talk a little about zombies and what they imply for a materialist theory of the mind.When I say "zombie," I don't mean the shambling, flesh-eating undead of horror films. This thought experiment is about philosophical zombies, which are a different beast altogether. The philosophers' zombie is a hypothetical creature which, to all outward appearances, is indistinguishable from an ordinary human. The difference is that they lack … [Read more...]

On the Morality of: Abortion

Although abortion is stereotyped as the most controversial and divisive social issue there is, I think the moral issues at stake are actually fairly unambiguous. This installment of "On the Morality Of" will explain why.Pared down to its essence, the moral question posed by abortion is a simple one: is an unborn fetus a human being, with all the moral rights and protections that pertain thereunto; or is it a non-human, an assemblage of cells, the existence of which may be terminated without … [Read more...]

On Presuppositionalism

In "Unmoved Mover", I wrote about the presuppositional argument used by some modern Christian apologists. In this post, I want to say some more about presuppositionalism.The presuppositionalists have a point in this sense and in this sense only: a worldview is worth being held only if it is possible to reason consistently from that worldview given its own starting principles. If those principles lead inevitably to their own negation, then that worldview is self-contradictory and must be … [Read more...]

Strange and Curious Sects: Jesus Malverde

Malverde's shrine stands near the railroad tracks on the west side of Culiacan, well-known to just about everybody in town. Nearby are Malverde Clutch & Breaks, Malverde Lumber and two Denny's-like cafeterias: Coco's Malverde and Chic's Malverde. Outside the shrine people sell trinkets, candles, and pictures. Inside the shrine are two concrete busts of the man. Malverde, supposedly a poor man from the hills, turns out to look a lot like a matinee idol -- dark eyes, sleek mustache, jet-black … [Read more...]


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