When the church service let out, my friends and I toured several other buildings on campus. We stopped by the dorms, which are strictly gender-segregated: I wonder what mindset lies behind this. Is it because the trustees of Liberty believe it’s indecent for men and women to mingle in public? Then why aren’t the classes and the church services also sex-separated? And why don’t they also enforce the biblical decree that women not wear jewelry or braid their hair (1… Read more

By Sarah Braasch In Loving Memory of My Baby Brother, Jacob Michael Braasch (01/28/86 – 02/02/10) I was working on this piece when I received news that my beloved youngest brother, Jacob, had taken his own life by hanging himself in my parents’ basement. I was ten, almost eleven when my mother told me and my brother and sister that she was pregnant again. I didn’t speak to her for weeks. I was a good little Jehovah’s Witness girl back… Read more

Most Americans have heard of the movie critic and writer Roger Ebert. But what most people probably didn’t know – what I didn’t know – is that he hasn’t been able to eat, drink or speak since 2006. That was the year when most of his jaw had to be surgically removed, the result of complications from thyroid cancer that nearly cost him his life. This information comes via a surprisingly moving article in Esquire by Chris Jones, which describes… Read more

This week’s guest contributor says: “Day three of a canoe exploration of Lows Lake and the Bog River Flow, Adirondacks. This dreamlike scene marked the end of an idyllic day of slow paddling and fishing for dinner. The world takes a breath and pauses….” Sunset, Lows Lake, Adirondack State Park. Photo credit: Jim Sabiston, Essential Light Photography. (Visit his site!) Read more

(See Part I here.) When the band finished their set, they departed and the pastor took the stage. He was relatively young, probably not much older than most members of the audience, and dressed in a plain shirt and jeans. His name, displayed on the giant screens overhead, was Johnnie Moore – a self-conscious use of the diminutive that was probably intended to emphasize the similarity between himself and the churchgoers. I had come to Liberty expecting a fire-and-brimstone sermon,… Read more

If you noticed that Daylight Atheism was quieter than usual this past weekend, you were right – I was out of town and had limited internet access. But there was a good reason for my absence: I was on a secret mission to penetrate into the very heart of the Bible Belt. Namely, I was storming the gates of Liberty University, the evangelical Christian college founded by Jerry Falwell, infamous for banning the College Democrats from campus and for instantly… Read more

It happened in America. It happened in Ireland. Now, it seems that another major Catholic sex abuse scandal is about to break open – this time in Germany (HT: Butterflies and Wheels). As the German newspaper Der Spiegel reports, the pattern we’re now seeing from abuse victims who’ve come forward is very much the same as we’ve seen in other countries – sexual predators among the priesthood whose proclivities were well known to the church higher-ups, but who were quietly… Read more

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 8 The best place to settle a scientific debate is in the peer-reviewed journals and the larger research community – a strategy which, as we’ve noted, the creationists have steered well clear of. This means, when they inevitably attempt to push their beliefs into public schools anyway, that we have to take them to court, and that’s where most direct encounters between science and creationism take place. However, though it’s not an ideal forum… Read more

I just finished reading The Happiness Hypothesis, a book by Jonathan Haidt, who’s a professor in the new science of “positive psychology” at the University of Virginia. Most of the book is a straightforward distillation of scientific research on what truly brings happiness and contentment in life, illustrated with quotes and references to famous philosophers and sages of the past who taught similar lessons. There’s nothing to object to about this – I think it’s a laudable thing for science… Read more

You may have heard that, after an exasperating series of setbacks and delays, the massive particle accelerator called the Large Hadron Collider is finally up and running. Even in preliminary tests, it’s set records for the most powerful particle collisions ever recorded in a lab – and when it’s reactivated later this year, it’s expected to set new ones. Recently, I was struck by this quote from a National Geographic article on the LHC: So far, the CERN team has… Read more

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