Do You Really Believe That?

Noah's FloodToday I'm introducing a new post series on Daylight Atheism, "Do You Really Believe That?" The purpose of this series is to highlight religious claims that are so extravagantly bizarre, so manifestly at odds with everything we know about the universe, or so just plain ridiculous that even religious believers shouldn't be able to take them seriously. I'll begin today with one of the most obviously ludicrous and implausible parts of the Bible, the story of Noah's flood. As absurd as … [Read more...]

The Milgram Obedience Experiment

Stanley Milgram. "Behavioral study of obedience." Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, vol. 67, no.4 (1963), p.371-378.In the 1960s, Stanley Milgram conducted one of the most important experiments ever done in the field of human psychology and social conformity. For ethical reasons, this study probably could not be repeated today, but that only makes it even more important to raise awareness of its findings.Milgram, a psychology professor at Yale University, recruited 40 male subjects … [Read more...]

Book/Movie Review: The Secret

Lately, The Secret - a movie and its companion book produced by Rhonda Byrne - have been burning up the bestseller lists and have attracted endorsements from influential celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey. Marketed in the self-help genre, it promises viewers the key to achieving all their life goals through the power of positive thinking. (The name is a misnomer, since The Secret's teachings are hardly a secret but have been a prominent part of New Age belief systems for decades, dating back at … [Read more...]

Rebuking the Devil

I have written several times in the past about how religious superstition, when it is taken seriously, causes harm and suffering to real people by dissuading them from seeking the evidence-based treatments they need. But a new story from the March 31 edition of Newsday, Trying to change minds in the Congo, is one of the most horrifying illustrations of this principle I have yet seen.The African Republic of the Congo, a country of 3.7 million people, has only one clinical psychiatrist. Dr. … [Read more...]

How to Think Critically I

Extraordinary ClaimsIn the Popular Delusions series, I have explored just a few varieties of the vast number of nonsensical beliefs which afflict humanity. From the belief that astronomical bodies millions of light-years distant control our destiny here on Earth, to the belief that water remembers what substances were once dissolved in it, to the belief that reality is just a construct of the mind and can be altered by wishing hard enough, it seems there is no kind of absurdity a skeptic could … [Read more...]

Other Shores

When we were young, we looked up at the twinkling lights in the night sky and wondered. Most of them were immovable, fixed stars rising and setting in the same place every night as if pinned to the dome of the firmament. However, a very few of those lights were not so steady. Instead, they seemed to meander, moving perceptibly across the sky from night to night - sometimes even changing course and moving backwards for a time, as if in a spirit of play. We named these vagabond stars planets, … [Read more...]

The Tomb of Jesus?

The media has been abuzz lately over a Discovery Channel special about a tomb in Israel that, according to the show's producers, may once have contained the bones of Jesus Christ.The tomb was discovered in 1980 during an archaeological excavation in Jerusalem. Inside, researchers found ten ossuaries - carved stone boxes used in many ancient cultures to inter human bones. Six of the ten ossuaries bore inscriptions of the names of their occupants, including, allegedly, "Jesus, son of Joseph", … [Read more...]

A Daylight Atheism Consumer Warning

Consumers, be advised! When you want to know the future or ward off bad fortune through the invocation of magical power, don't trust just any fake dime-store psychic. Be sure to choose only the best fake psychics for all your supernatural needs.Such is the message of a bulletin issued recently by the United Kingdom's official consumer-protection agency:The UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has warned consumers not to fall for scams perpetrated by bogus clairvoyants, fortune tellers and … [Read more...]

Some Thoughts on Evolution Sunday

Yesterday, February 11, was Evolution Sunday, a nationwide project in which hundreds of Christian pastors and denominations voice their belief that the theory of evolution, and science in general, is compatible with their religious principles.My standpoint on this matter is not as combative as some people's. While I, too, would like to see all religious people become atheists, I recognize that this is not going to happen any time soon, and encouraging the majority of theists to find … [Read more...]

Sylvia Browne: Enemy of Free Speech

I have written previously about the "psychics" so popular in our culture, whose pretense of being able to speak to the dead and otherwise gain knowledge through supernatural powers wins them wealth and accolades from a credulous public and a shallow, sensationalist media, despite the total lack of convincing evidence to date that any of them can do what they say they can do.One of the worst of the lot is Sylvia Browne. After agreeing on national television to take James Randi's million-dollar … [Read more...]


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