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...]

Little-Known Bible Verses VIII: Priestly Celibacy

Today's edition of "Little-Known Bible Verses" is specific to the Roman Catholic denomination of Christianity. This is because, of all major Western denominations, Roman Catholicism is the only church that still requires that its clergy members remain celibate. The Catholic church to this day believes that this is a biblically supportable doctrine. But in fact, the opposite is true, as we can see from two little-known Bible verses. Both the verses in question come from the epistle of 1 Timothy, … [Read more...]

The Good Book?

Recently, an offended Christian left this comment on my satirical post "Footprints": Call me close-minded, but am I the only one who looks at the whole text of Scripture, and not just the parts that deal with eternal damnation? Because, if we're playing a game where we take the Holy Word of God out of context, I can alter His meaning to say just about anything, really. ....why does everyone fail to mention all the times that God blessed His people? Why is everyone so quick to point out where … [Read more...]

Self-Correction

Last month, in "The Aura of Infallibility", I talked about how some religious believers declare themselves and their beliefs to be infallible in order to ward off the frightening possibility of having to decide what is true. This is, obviously, a futile tactic. We can proclaim ourselves to be immune to error as often as we like, but reality is unlikely to be impressed. Human beliefs, no matter how strongly or confidently held, do not decide the way the universe is. What these believers fear, … [Read more...]

Further Thoughts on John Haught

Since the comment thread for my post "On Amateur Atheism" has sparked a lively debate, I looked around on the internet earlier today for some further explanation of John Haught's views. I found them in this Salon interview, and I'd like to offer some further comments on the theology outlined therein. One of Haught's major points regarding modern atheists that they rely too much on scientific inquiry to learn about the world: Therefore, since there's no scientific evidence for the divine, we … [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X