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...]

Thank God for Pre-trib Rapture

Among Christian groups who hold to belief in a literal apocalypse, the most common view today is "pretribulationist" - the belief that God will remove his faithful from the world in the Rapture, following which there will be seven years of suffering and bloodshed as unsaved humanity is tortured by God and ruled by the Antichrist. ("Pretribulation" refers to the timing of the Rapture, in this belief system preceding the seven years of tribulation.) There are differing views in Christian theology … [Read more...]

Book Update

It's been a long time in the making, but I've finished the tenth and final chapter of my book. Its title is "Into the Clear Air", and it discusses the process of becoming an atheist, on an individual level, and the effort to organize atheists on a political level. As before, I'm open to editorial review from my readers; if you've read previous chapters and are interested in reading this one, let me know.What's next? I want to write a brief epilogue, then I need to go back over the book, do … [Read more...]

Respectable Infidels

The Volokh Conspiracy has a fascinating excerpt from the writings of Anthony Comstock (HT, Dispatches from the Culture Wars):The respectable infidel is not even referred to, but simply those who stand in the forefront, zealous to be known as opposed to God and religion, and who by their blasphemous speeches and publications are putting to shame honest infidels. Every person must respect the infidel who says, "I cannot see nor understand these matters of religion as you do; I wish I could." … [Read more...]

On Transhumanism

One of the most optimistic - perhaps excessively optimistic - philosophies that take shelter under the umbrella terms of atheism and humanism is transhumanism. Transhumanism is a set of loosely associated philosophies which all share a belief in the desirability of transcending the biology of the human condition through technology.At the marginally more plausible end of the scale, this may entail feats of technology such as preserving the terminally ill by cryogenically freezing their bodies, … [Read more...]

Evolution Is Design

It's not often I disagree with Richard Dawkins, but I have to do so today. In the opening pages of Climbing Mount Improbable, he discusses what he calls "designoid" objects:Designoid objects are living bodies and their products. Designoid objects look designed, so much so that some people - probably, alas, most people - think that they are designed. These people are wrong. But they are right in their conviction that designoid objects cannot be the result of chance. Designoid objects are not … [Read more...]

A Memo to Fence-Sitting Agnostics

In the Guardian last week, Tracy Quan had a column titled Agnostic about atheism. It strikes a note we've heard before: Quan, though a nonbeliever herself (she describes herself as a "'cafeteria' atheist and secular Catholic"), is embarrassed and uncomfortable to hear atheists speaking out forthrightly and wishes we would stop.Some of my fellow atheists are to non-belief what being nouveau riche is to the traditionally rich. It's as though they've just discovered God doesn't exist, and they … [Read more...]

Poetry Sunday: Design

This month's Poetry Sunday features another classic by a famous poet who's already made an appearance: Robert Frost, the skeptical New Englander whose work has become iconic of the American experience.Frost's views on God are complex. In some of his letters, he calls himself "an old dissenter", "secular till the last go down", and said there were "no vampires, no ghouls, no demons, nothing but me". In others, he expresses belief in and even fear of God, whom he usually identifies as the … [Read more...]

How to Think Critically VII: Risk Assessment

Given that this is an atheist site, I feel compelled to start this post with a snappy anti-religion quip, so here it is: Children and teenagers are more likely to be molested or assaulted in church than they are on social networking sites like MySpace. Parents, do you want to protect your kids? Keep them home on Sundays and send them to the computer instead!But it wouldn't be fair to leave it at that. This statistic doesn't prove the inherent riskiness of going to church. What it proves is … [Read more...]

Think for Yourself

In one of his "My Answer" columns, Billy Graham replies to a correspondent who doesn't see the need for organized religion:Don't make up your own ideas about God, but understand from the Bible who He really is, and commit your life to Christ."Don't make up your own ideas" - this is Billy Graham's advice to the seeker. Instead, presumably, we should read the Bible and believe exactly what it says, without bringing any of our own imagination or independent thought to the subject.My friend … [Read more...]


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