How to Think Critically II: Salience

"Just another day in the city. A sidewalk grate, the kind that millions of feet trod upon every day, gives way, sending a woman tumbling into the hole and landing her in the hospital. Downtown, a 15-foot pipe falls off a 40-story skyscraper, crashing through a firehouse nearby, injuring two.In densely packed Manhattan, with so many taxis speeding down the street, so many subways to trip and fall in front of, and of course so many rapes, robberies and murders to contend with, the whole place … [Read more...]

Banning the Bible

A very entertaining story has come out of Hong Kong recently. After the Hong Kong goverment's "Obscene Articles Tribunal" censored a Chinese student magazine as "indecent" for publishing a sex column asking if readers had ever fantasized about incest or bestiality, over 800 residents protested by calling on the government to classify the Bible as indecent also. (Such material is not outright barred from publication, but must be sold in sealed bags with a legal warning and can only be sold to … [Read more...]

Inducing Superstition

The human brain is a belief-forming machine. It is what defines us as a species: we guide our actions by creating mental models of the world and using those models to hypothesize about what will happen under a given set of circumstances. Our ability to create such models far surpasses that of any other species, and accounts for our unprecedented degree of deliberate technological control over the world.However, though we are intelligent, we are not infallible. Humans of every culture and … [Read more...]

Religious Earmarks

An article in the New York Times this week, "Religious Groups Reap Federal Aid for Pet Projects", gives some troubling details about the growing trend of religious groups seeking - and receiving - no-strings-attached federal grants disbursed by a direct act of Congress, usually called "earmarks", to fund their pet projects. Sometimes these grants are for secular purposes, such as ministries that fund job training programs or religious colleges studying how best to reduce gang violence. However, … [Read more...]

Jerry Falwell Dies

Jerry Falwell, prominent Christian conservative and for many years the standard-bearer of America's religious right, has died of an apparent heart attack. He was 73 years of age.Falwell was born in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1933, and graduated from Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri in 1956. That same year, he was ordained and founded the Thomas Road Baptist Church, today a 22,000-member megachurch. In 1968, Falwell began televising the sermons at his church under the title "The … [Read more...]

Smoothing Out the Rough Edges

Normal people don't start new religions.This seems like an obvious thing to say, but there's an important point behind it. Most people, both in the present time and in past eras, are conformists who are far more likely to follow the trails paved by others than to blaze their own. Theists in general seem content to go to church each week, stand or sit or kneel when asked, leave a donation in the collection plate on occasion, confess their sins when necessary, and trust that everything will … [Read more...]

Book Update

I've finished the second chapter of my book, which deals with the argument from scriptural atrocities and draws on my Ebon Musings essays "A Book of Blood" and "Infinite Punishment for Finite Sins".As before, any regular commenter who's interested in reading the chapter and offering feedback is welcome to do so. E-mail me or leave a comment if interested. … [Read more...]

Poetry Sunday: Credo

Today I'm proud to introduce another new feature to Daylight Atheism, Poetry Sunday. While we atheists see no need to attend church, every human being's life could use a touch of beauty and artistry now and then. And what better time to celebrate human creativity, and appreciate the perspective on the wide world it gives us, than the day when the Christian faithful are sitting on musty pews listening to stale sermons?And for the first Poetry Sunday, I'm privileged to have a very distinguished … [Read more...]

Reaching Out

In the first years of the 21st century, atheism, nonbelief and freethought are resurgent all across the Western world. In the United States, by far the most religious of the industrialized democracies, the number of religious fundamentalists is dropping, while the number of nonreligious people is growing with each generation. Even ethnic groups coming from traditionally highly religious cultures show rising rates of nonbelief in accordance with the rest of society.Europe can report similarly … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch X: The National Day of Prayer

I failed to mention previously that last Thursday, May 3, was the "National Day of Prayer" in the United States. Believe it or not, the nation that created the First Amendment has such a day. The bill creating this national observance was signed into law in 1952 by President Harry Truman, and another bill fixing its date as the first Thursday in May was signed in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan. The purpose of this day, according to the original bill's text, is for Americans to "turn to God in … [Read more...]


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