Christian Troll Masquerades as Racist Atheist

Over the past two weeks, an individual calling himself Steve Leone has attempted to leave about half a dozen variations of the following comment on my thread about the “miracle” of Fatima: “Oh yeah? Well, how did three illiterate Portuguese peasant children know that some strange atmospheric phenomenon was going to appear in the sky over Fatima at the exact date and time they predicted? Answer that, you smarty-pants atheists!” Here’s an entirely typical example from my moderation queue: Author:… Read more

In Defense of Optimism

Among the writers who oppose the New Atheists, one common theme in their criticism is that we’re too optimistic about the possibility of human progress. For example, take this essay by Terry Eagleton attacking Richard Dawkins, in which the sneering condescension drips from every word: It thus comes as no surprise that Dawkins turns out to be an old-fashioned Hegelian when it comes to global politics, believing in a zeitgeist (his own term) involving ever increasing progress, with just the… Read more

Original Virtue

Central to nearly every branch of Christianity is the notion of original sin – the belief that humans in some sense start out corrupted, that sinfulness is our default state. The apostle Paul expresses this idea in verses like these from Romans: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned… Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men… Read more

The Case for a Creator: Intellectual Incuriosity

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 5 Chapter 5 is about the Big Bang and the cosmological argument, and we’ll get to those. But I wanted to begin by highlighting an incredible, and telling, statement by Strobel in the opening paragraphs of the chapter. It seemed to me that the beginning of everything was a good place to start my investigation into whether the affirmative evidence of science points toward or away from a Creator. At the time, I wasn’t… Read more

A Dialogue with Quixote, Part VII

Hello Quixote, Considering your last letter to me was some time ago, I apologize for the lateness of my reply. To tell the truth, this was the hardest one for me to write. It’s not that I couldn’t think of anything to say. Much the opposite: If I had said everything I wanted to say, this post would have been too long! Cutting it down to a reasonable length was more of a struggle than writing it. I’ve endeavored to… Read more

Little-Known Bible Verses: Predestination

One of the most common Christian beliefs, and the one most often appealed to in order to explain why evil exists, is that human beings have free will to make choices that are not in God’s control. God doesn’t want robots, the argument goes, nor mindless puppets programmed to sing his praises. He desires genuine fellowship with real, independent beings, and giving us free will is the only way to achieve that, though some people may misuse the gift and… Read more

Freedom to Dress

It’s a sad day when you read stories like this from the city where the renowned Library of Alexandria once stood: Along the miles of crowded beachfront in Egypt’s second city, women in bathing suits are nowhere in sight. On Alexandria’s breeze-blown shores, they all wear long-sleeve shirts and ankle-length black caftans topped by head scarves. Awkwardly afloat in the rough seas, the bathers look like wads of kelp loosened from the sandy bottom. In Alexandria, a city once renowned… Read more

The Case for a Creator: Dysteleology

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 4 In 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… 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… 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 skeptical perspective on this news, via a quote… Read more

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