The Case for a Creator: Dysteleology

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 4In the last section of his interview with Stephen Meyer, Lee Strobel brings up the dysteleological argument, asking how intelligent design can account for the faults and imperfections in the natural world that would seem to cast doubt on the wisdom or benevolence of the designer. He begins with a classic argument, the inverted retina. Quoting Ken Miller:"We would have to wonder why an intelligent designer placed the neural wiring of the retina on the … [Read more...]

Christians Persecute Atheist Teacher

The next time you hear Christians complaining about being persecuted in America, remember this story.You probably know Hemant Mehta, author of the blog Friendly Atheist. What you may not know, and what I didn't know, is that by day he's a math teacher at a public high school in Illinois. And it seems that a right-wing Christian group, outraged by the thought of an atheist being a teacher and potentially a role model, is now trying to get him fired.You can read the story in Hemant's own words … [Read more...]

The Opportunity Cost of Pseudoscience

Last month, the U.S. government-funded National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine released a study which found that Americans spent $34 billion annually on alternative medicine. Although this is just 1.5% of total health care spending in the country, it represents over 11% of all out-of-pocket expenditures. The report estimates that about 38 million adults visited alternative practitioners in 2007.Unusually for a mainstream media outlet, the Boston Globe offers a much-welcomed … [Read more...]

The Secular Tithe

How much money do you give away each year?For the sake of full disclosure, I'll start by answering my own question: I try to give at least $200 a month to nonprofit educational and charitable causes. I think it's a reasonable amount, although I know I could (and should) be doing more.Speaking out as nonbelievers is well and good. There will always be a need for forceful, effective advocacy for atheism. But I've come to realize that, if we really want to build a secular and enlightened … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: Astroturfing Science

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 4Lee Strobel's usual interview technique is to ask softball questions that are carefully phrased to make it as easy as possible for his interviewees to "refute" them. But credit where credit's due - in the next section of chapter 4, he actually asks a good one. In talking to ID advocate Stephen Meyer, he brings up the evidence I discussed in my previous post:"If the scientific evidence for theism is so compelling... then why don't more scientists believe in … [Read more...]

Daylight Atheism Los Angeles Meetup

For all DA readers in the Los Angeles area (if any):Three weeks from now, on the weekend of September 5, I'm going to be in California to attend a friend's wedding. The weekend is booked solid, but my flight back to New York leaves from Los Angeles on Tuesday the 8th, and I'll have that Monday free.So, do I have any readers in or near L.A. who'll be around on Labor Day and are interested in meeting up? It would probably be later in the day, around dinnertime. If you'll be available and are … [Read more...]

Poetry Sunday: An Arundel Tomb

Today's edition of Poetry Sunday features a return of the English poet and novelist Philip Larkin. Born in Coventry in 1922, Larkin received a degree in literature from Oxford in 1943. Though he worked for most of his life as a librarian at the University of Hull, he was well-known and widely acclaimed for his poetry and his work as a literary reviewer and jazz critic. He received numerous awards for his writing in his lifetime, including the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, the German Shakespeare … [Read more...]

Why the Religious Right Fears Empathy

In the days before Justice Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation, we witnessed a strange spectacle: religious-right Christian after religious-right Christian spoke out against her nomination on the grounds that she valued empathy, and that this was an undesirable quality for a judge to have.Coming from a religion whose founder supposedly said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me," this is laughably absurd. Empathy is one of the founding … [Read more...]

The Republicans' Descent into Delusion

I don't usually post on purely political issues, but this one has become impossible to ignore. In the last few weeks, the American right has worked itself into a fever pitch of insanity over the prospect of healthcare reform.If you've been watching the news, you've seen the shouting, raging protestors disrupting town-hall meetings, screaming at their representatives about how the healthcare bill is tyranny and fascism. These people are almost loud enough to drown out all other debate over … [Read more...]

Too High a Price to Pay for Comfort

Religion inspires billions of people around the world today to live honest, decent, law-abiding lives. Faith-based charities of every religious tradition have brought comfort, hope, and healing to millions of people who would otherwise starve, lay homeless, and be left to fend for themselves. Religion gives comfort and consolation to so many who have faced adversity in their lives, whether it be suffering from illness, natural disaster, or the loss of someone whom they … [Read more...]