Ten Questions to Ask Your Pastor

The New York Times recently ran a depressing article about the obstacles faced by public school science teachers. I don't envy teachers their job, as important as it is: between surly and unruly students, cash-strapped school districts, incompetent administrators, and the regimented, monotonous teaching needed to drill classes for standardized testing, they have more than enough to deal with. But this outrage may surpass all the others: religious students who have been programmed by their … [Read more...]

Who Says You Can't Disprove God?

By Michael Martin(Editor's Note: Welcome to Daylight Atheism's newest guest author! Most of you, I hope, have heard of Michael Martin, a professor emeritus of philosophy at Boston University and prominent author of books and scholarly papers defending atheism and naturalism. Some of his many published works include Atheism, Morality and Meaning (2002), The Big Domino in The Sky and Other Atheistic Tales (1996), The Case Against Christianity (1991), and Atheism: A Philosophical Justification … [Read more...]

This World Is My Home

A famous Christian gospel hymn titled "This World Is Not My Home" sums up how religious views of an afterlife shape believers' views of this life:This world is not my home,     I'm just a passing through, My treasures are laid up     somewhere beyond the blue; The angels beckon me     from heaven's open door, And I can't feel at home     in this world anymore.For millions of people, this verse is more than a … [Read more...]

Spread the Wealth: Further Thoughts on Capitalism

In his 1651 book Leviathan, the Enlightenment political theorist Thomas Hobbes wrote that in the uncivilized, lawless state of nature, the life of humankind was "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short". Even in Hobbes' own day, when a relative degree of civilization had been achieved, there was considerable truth to this. But in just the last few hundred years, our society has been transformed almost beyond recognition.For most of human history, nearly everyone lived in conditions of … [Read more...]

On Christian Hypocrites

Anyone who's familiar with Christianity knows that, in the last few decades alone, the Christian church has seen an astounding number of its powerful preachers exposed as blatant hypocrites. The most famous example, of course, is Ted Haggard, former president of the National Association of Evangelicals and a fervent opponent of gay marriage, who fell spectacularly from grace after revelations of a three-year sexual relationship with a male prostitute.But he's not the only one. There's Jim … [Read more...]

Why I'm Donating to Kay Hagan

In case you haven't heard, Kay Hagan is the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in North Carolina, running against Republican incumbent Elizabeth Dole. Yesterday, Dole and her staff put out a press release attacking Hagan... for planning to attend a fundraiser held by atheists. (HT: Friendly Atheist).According to Dole's press release:"Kay Hagan does not represent the values of this state; she is a Trojan Horse for a long list of wacky left-wing outside groups bent on policies that … [Read more...]

How to Think Critically VIII: Mill's Methods

Today's post on critical thinking concerns the five principles collectively known as Mill's methods, first presented together in 1843 by the Enlightenment philosopher John Stuart Mill in his book A System of Logic. Each of them is intended to illuminate the flow of causality in a different way, giving us mental tools to link causes and effects. In this post, I'll highlight past entries in my "Popular Delusions" series, and show how failure to properly use Mill's methods has duped the … [Read more...]

On the Morality of: Torture

Thanks to revelations that the U.S. government has been using torture techniques such as waterboarding on people it suspects of being terrorists, this post is overdue. I find it unbelievable that, in the year 2008, it's actually a point of contention whether torture should be legal or not.Discussions of this issue in the media inevitably return to the "ticking-bomb" scenario - where torture is the only way to extract information from a captured terrorist in time to prevent a devastating … [Read more...]

Advice to an Atheist

I recently received an e-mail from an atheist who's grappling with what I imagine is a common dilemma. I offered some advice, but I wouldn't presume to think that my suggestions are definitive. I'm curious to see what Daylight Atheism commenters have to say:I realize that you don't run an advice column, or anything like it, but I'm sure you have had experience dealing with people who are close to you who happen to be theists. I can't really find any resources for atheists to deal with such a … [Read more...]

Imaginary Virtues

In last month's "Imaginary Crimes", I wrote about the fictitious offenses invented by religion to fill people with guilt and shame. But there's something even worse to write about. The flip side of having imaginary crimes is having imaginary virtues - people who believe themselves to be good and decent based solely on their ability to obey arbitrary religious edicts that offer no benefit to any human being. Not only does religion cause people to feel guilty when they shouldn't, it causes them to … [Read more...]