A Glimpse of the Garden

By way of Pandagon, I came across this incredible story from NPR's This American Life, an hourlong report on, and interview with, the evangelical pastor Carlton Pearson.Pearson was once one of the rising stars of the religious right: a hardcore Pentecostal preacher, head of an Oklahoma megachurch, a protege of Oral Roberts and a spokesman for George Bush's faith-based initiatives who had the ear of the White House under three different presidents. He preached alongside Jerry Falwell, Jim … [Read more...]

Strange and Curious Sects: The Millerites

Today's edition of "Strange and Curious Sects" concerns a now-defunct religious group, but one which has offshoots that survive to the present day. Like the stories of John Frum and Sabbatai Zevi, it's also a lesson in the almost limitless capacity of the human mind to rationalize away disappointment.William Miller was born in 1782 in Massachusetts. A voracious reader, he converted to deism when he was young, but his belief in an intervening god would be restored in the War of 1812. Miller … [Read more...]

Take Action: Support Atheism in Washington State

Last week, in "Getting Our Message Out", I wrote about the winter solstice sign that the FFRF posted in Washington state's capitol building. The sign was put up after the state had legally obliged itself to create an open forum by allowing the placement of other privately sponsored displays carrying specifically Christian-themed messages, including a nativity scene. The FFRF's sign bears the following message:At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail.There are no gods, no … [Read more...]

Fertile Soil

We've arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements - transportation, communications, and all other industries; agriculture, medicine, education, entertainment, protecting the environment; and even the key democratic institution of voting - profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this … [Read more...]

Announcements and Miscellany

• Daylight Atheism reader Juan Felipe has completed Spanish translations of two more Ebon Musings essays, "La sombra del cambio" (Shadow of Turning), and "Un juego de trile cósmico" (The Cosmic Shell Game). Please check them out and be sure to thank him for his fine work. And if you're interested in joining the effort to translate, into Spanish or any other language, please e-mail me and let me know.Also, I have two announcements I was asked to pass along:• First, Q … [Read more...]

Why Hanukkah?

For the sake of the holidays, here's a bit of nostalgia:My parents came from two different religious traditions - Roman Catholicism on my father's side, liberal Judaism on my mother's side - although neither of them were practicing. Growing up, I had no exposure at all to Christianity, and the extent of my exposure to Judaism was that we lit candles on a menorah and got presents and chocolate coins from my grandmother at Hanukkah. I don't recall anyone ever telling me the religious origins of … [Read more...]

Speaking Truth to Popularity

When the great freethought orator Robert Ingersoll died in 1899, the New York Times eulogized him thusly:...there is something more in the orator's art than the power of expression. There must also be sympathy in the sense of an electrical connection which is set up between speaker and hearers. And eminently Ingersoll had this. He never misjudged, more properly, he never misfelt his audience....He held the keys of laughter and of tears, and there are many passages, mostly, indeed, detached … [Read more...]

Getting Our Message Out

As atheists grow in political power and begin to exert our influence, we should expect to draw attention from religious bigots who will try to silence us. Three stories from the past three days illustrate this principle, showing not just atheism's increasing assertiveness, but the arrogance of religious groups and individuals who think they can prevent us from getting our message out.First is Rancho Cucamonga, California. The Freedom from Religion Foundation had placed an "Imagine No … [Read more...]

New on Ebon Musings: The Pillars of the Earth

A new essay, "The Pillars of the Earth", has been posted on Ebon Musings. This essay surveys apologist claims that the Bible displays miraculous foreknowledge of modern science, and sets the record straight as to what these verses really mean.This is an open thread. Comments and discussion are welcome. … [Read more...]

The Age of Wonder

If you search the internet, it's not hard to find New Agers and others who think that the dawning of the age of reason was a mistake. They envision a more "holistic" approach, one that properly pays heed to the mystery and complexity of existence, and castigate science for being cold, unfeeling, heartless in its probing, reductionist scrutiny of the natural world. For example:The reason things are advancing so slowly... is that science has neglected the (spiritual) indications necessary for … [Read more...]


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