Priming the Mind

In a previous post from Daylight Atheism titled "On Presuppositions" (all the way back in February 2006!), I wrote about how subconscious biases and prejudices, instilled in us by culture and surroundings, can exert a disturbingly measurable effect on our behavior. However, there is more to this story that deserves to be told. In the previous post, I wrote about persistent biases, those that are apparently supported and reinforced frequently enough over long enough periods of time to become … [Read more...]

Popular Delusions V: Santa Claus

I write the Popular Delusions series to critically investigate widely believed pseudosciences and superstitions. And while the topic of my latest entry in this series may seem odd, I think it fits - for after all, are there not tens of millions around the globe who are taught to believe in Santa Claus or other seasonal gift-givers? There are many pseudosciences believed by adults that do not command such a wide following.The figure of Santa Claus is uniquely paradoxical for atheists. On the … [Read more...]

Holy Water, Frail Hope

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Shivering under a tattered blanket, a young woman tries to sleep at the foot of the mist-shrouded Entoto Mountain, north of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa...."I decided to come to Entoto to seek a cure from the holy water after a doctor told me that I am HIV-positive," Abebech Alemu, 35, said."I am a follower of the Orthodox faith. I strongly believe that I will be cured by drinking the holy water rather than drugs," she added.—Tsegaye Tadesse, "Believers … [Read more...]

A Tribute to Carl Sagan

Between the excitement of the midterm elections and the flood of atheism-related news that has occurred this month, there was one very important date that passed almost unnoticed, but that I would be remiss if I failed to mention. Namely, November 9 was the birthday of the famous astronomer and skeptic Carl Sagan. If he were still alive, he would have been 72 this month.Sagan's scientific achievements were groundbreaking and hardly need me to recount them. During a time when the human species … [Read more...]

Should Scientists Speak Out Against Religion?

Thanksgiving season this year has been anything but peaceful. Providing further evidence of the growing assertiveness of atheists, the war of words between faith and reason has erupted into the headlines once again. This time it came in the form of a scientific forum in California titled "Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival", where a vigorous debate was waged over whether and how scientists should fight against religious belief in society.And the aftershocks of this debate … [Read more...]

Popular Delusions IV: Hauntings

John Knott, the owner of Quadrille, a fabric and wall coverings company based in Manhattan, expected surprises when he bought a weekend home in the country, an 1839 Greek Revival house in Kinderhook in Columbia County, N.Y. Inconveniences were bound to crop up — a leaky roof, problematic plumbing, boiler issues. But he was not expecting ghosts.—Kathryn Matthews, "This Old House Has Ghosts". The New York Times, 13 October 2006.Aside from belief in God and the associated religious t … [Read more...]

Infectious Memes

Hi! I am a .signature virus. Copy me into your .signature to join in!—seen on UsenetAnd these words which I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them thoroughly to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road, when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign upon your arm, and they shall be for a reminder between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and … [Read more...]

Popular Delusions III: Faith Healing

A frequent point of contention in debates over religion is whether God's existence is a topic that can be addressed by science. Interestingly, this is one of the few issues where various people on both sides take both stances. Some scientists, such as the late Stephen Jay Gould and his principle of "nonoverlapping magisteria", hold that religion is in a separate realm from science and addresses different questions, and never the twain shall meet. Other scientists hold that God's existence is a … [Read more...]

On Pushing Back

The recent violence in Lebanon, as well as the worsening sectarian bloodshed in Iraq, that have dominated the headlines in recent weeks remind us of the sheer unending vindictiveness of religious warfare. Indeed, of all the worst trouble spots in the world either currently or in recent memory - Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, India and Pakistan, Sudan - religion has played a major causative role in virtually every one. The defenders of religion assert that it has brought into the world much good … [Read more...]

A Call for Truth in Advertising Laws

I was in New York City the other week, near Penn Station, when I was accosted by a well-dressed man in a business suit attempting to hand out fliers to passers-by. I did not take one, but inside the train station, I noticed one cast aside and lying on the ground. Out of curiosity, this time I picked it up and read it. It turned out to be promoting a revival meeting to be held in Madison Square Garden that weekend by the Korean evangelist Jaerock Lee, sponsored by a host of local churches. Below … [Read more...]


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