Exposing Scientology

I've written about the ludicrous "space opera" beliefs of Scientology (the Plan 9 from Outer Space of modern religions). In the future, I want to tell the story of my personal encounter with Scientology proselytizers, but today I have another subject: some recent news exposés that reveal the secrets and the machinations of the cult.First and foremost, the St. Petersburg Times deserves credit for its truly superb investigative reporting on the inner workings of Scientology. In their 2009 … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: Why Cosmologists Are Atheists

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 4Strobel's next interview is with Stephen Meyer, a philosopher who's also one of the cofounders of the Discovery Institute. Strobel and Meyer touch on several topics (fine-tuning, irreducible complexity) that will be discussed in more detail in later chapters, so I'll defer responding to those arguments for now. Amusingly, Strobel also gives Meyer credit for contributing to Of Pandas and People - the textbook which provided one of the crucial pieces of evidence … [Read more...]

Getting a Philosophy Under Your Feet

I recently read a Christian book that's more interesting than the usual anti-atheist apologetics: Not the Religious Type, by Dave Schmelzer. Its author is a theologian and self-proclaimed former atheist who now pastors an evangelical church, Vineyard Christian Fellowship, in the Boston area.This book is in large part about the New Atheist movement, and unlike most Christian authors, who have nothing but anger and scorn for outspoken atheists, Schmelzer actually shows our viewpoint a measure of … [Read more...]

The Three Kinds of Theism

If you're an atheist who's setting out to debate religious believers, there are three main categories of theism you can expect to meet. Although religious belief is one of the most diverse of human phenomena, with a limitless variety of gradations and exceptions, I think these three suffice to classify nearly all of the theists that a nonbeliever is likely to encounter. If you want to debate, it's important to keep this in mind, because your strategy for dealing with each group needs to be … [Read more...]

Christian Apologist Concern Trolling

I've had a Google news alert for "atheism" for several years now, to keep abreast of stories I might want to write about. In 2006, when I started Daylight Atheism, it was a fairly low-traffic feed with maybe one or a few stories trickling in each day. But the volume has steadily increased in the last three and a half years, to the point where today, I find it hard to keep up with. And that's just one news feed - not even counting all the other atheist-themed blogs I read regularly.This is … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: Meet Your Ancestors

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 3In the final section of chapter 3, Strobel and Wells turn to the evidence that creationists loathe above all else: the fossil hominids that make up the human family tree. Human ancestors are not only a clear, obvious transition that even a layperson can understand, they directly demonstrate that we ourselves are a product of evolution, thus striking at the desire to be separate, special creations that almost certainly motivates nearly all creationists.I … [Read more...]

Strange and Curious Sects: Raelism

As humanity's understanding of the universe evolves, our religious beliefs change along with it, and the result is that every new religion bears the stamp of the time and place in which it first arose. Mormonism is an example - Joseph Smith used "seer stones" to translate the Book of Mormon, and claimed that the Native Americans were descendants of ancient Hebrew tribes, at a time in American history when both those ideas were in vogue. Today's post concerns a more recent, yet equally strange … [Read more...]

On the Morality of: Military Spending

I've been following, with some incredulity, a battle brewing in Congress over a military-spending bill and whether it will include money to buy more F-22 Raptors, a jet fighter used by the Air Force during the Cold War. Even though Defense Secretary Robert Gates insists that these planes are not needed, a contingent of Congresspeople are bent on putting that spending back into the budget - forcing the military to take these planes against their will!Bizarre as this sounds, it's a classic … [Read more...]

Another Cult Leader Convicted

I've got to give the government credit: they've been doing an excellent job cracking down on criminals who try to hide behind religion. Between Kent Hovind, Warren Jeffs, and now a new conviction, federal prosecutors have been diligently enforcing the law against creeps, con men, and petty tyrants who claim that the law of God gives them license to break the laws of society.This month's creep is Tony Alamo, former head of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries. On Friday, Alamo was convicted on ten … [Read more...]

Benevolent Business

Back in 2007, I wrote a post on optimistic populism, or how free markets can be a force for good: by spurring efficiency and innovation, they increase the total amount of wealth in the world, making it possible to raise the standard of living for all people. I also noted the irony that libertarians, the fiercest defenders of the free market, so often misunderstand this. In their jeremiads against taxation, they're implicitly buying into the view that wealth cannot be created and that the economy … [Read more...]