Opting Out

Humans are communal creatures, and we have been ever since we roamed the African savannas. Our greatest evolutionary advantage is our intelligence, but even the world's greatest genius would probably find that to be little help if forced to survive in total isolation. Intelligence is inherently a social adaptation; it works best among groups that can share ideas, pass down knowledge, and brainstorm solutions to problems.Since we have always lived in clans and tribes, it's not surprising that … [Read more...]

The Pretense of Superiority

Religion has always been used to sanctify inequality here on Earth, in the present no less than in the past. By teaching their followers that they are God's chosen rulers, religious authorities can accustom the flock to obedience and ascend to positions of power without the consent of the majority. The fundamentally oligarchic and anti-democratic nature of most established religions, in which the church leaders choose their own successors, testifies to this.These anti-democratic beliefs are … [Read more...]

Clearing the Ground

A recent comment by Sastra on EvolutionBlog made me laugh:When atheists make their arguments against fundamentalist forms of God, the moderate believers both approve and disapprove. They agree with what they say, they can't stand the extremists either, but of course there's no reason for atheism as a reaction! Those people may be in the majority, but they don't represent real Christianity at all. So atheists are seen as being just as extreme as the fundamentalists. No God on one side, Too Much … [Read more...]

Francis Collins on Atheism

The Point of Inquiry podcast recently aired a very interesting interview between D.J. Grothe and Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the Human Genome Project and a devout evangelical Christian. In the interview, Collins discusses the intersection of science and religious faith, whether belief in God is a scientific hypothesis, and the attacks on religion by Richard Dawkins and other prominent atheist scientists.Dr. Collins is a superlative scientist, and his published work is beyond reproach. … [Read more...]

Unravelled Threads

One of the hallmarks of a well-tested scientific theory is that it is supported by numerous, independent lines of evidence. We have the greatest confidence that a theory is true when results from completely different fields of science, which have no obvious reason to agree, all converge in support of the same conclusion, like threads weaving together to form a unified tapestry. This coming together of evidence was called consilience by Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson in his book of the same … [Read more...]

Eternal Moments

Without an eternal soul our existence is truly meaningless in the long run which is all that matters. Eventually your effect on others, nations and the world subsides, even if you are Alexander the Great. The earth will cease to exist, the universe will eventually cease to support any life. It will be as if we never existed. There will be absolutely no trace.In the above excerpt from a feedback e-mail, a Christian visitor attempted to persuade me that I should view life as meaningless because … [Read more...]

On Incorruptibility

One of the stranger supposed miracles in the Christian catalog is the miracle of incorruptibility. More common in Catholicism (I have yet to come across any Protestant examples), this term refers to a saint or holy person whose body miraculously refuses to decompose after death, instead remaining intact and even lifelike.This apologist site lists some of the more prominent Catholic incorruptibles, though as is usual with apologetics, considerable exaggeration has crept in. For example, … [Read more...]

Scientology to Stand Trial?

Some welcome news out of Brussels:A Belgian prosecutor on Tuesday recommended that the U.S.-based Church of Scientology stand trial for fraud and extortion, following a 10-year investigation that concluded the group should be labeled a criminal organization.Although I take a dim view of the principle, held by many European countries, that speech and belief can be censored in the name of promoting societal harmony, this is one instance where the United States' more expansive view of religious … [Read more...]

New Capsule Reviews

Following a reader's suggestion, I'm going to start adding brief reviews on the books read page for books where I don't feel a full-length review is necessary. I plan on going back and adding reviews for older books as I find the time. … [Read more...]

The Moving Light of Time

"In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time — for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays."—C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape LettersIn the above excerpt, C.S. Lewis expresses a very common view of time: that it "flows" from future to present to past like a filmstrip passing through a movie projector, with each frame of the film momentarily becoming the present as … [Read more...]


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