On the Morality of: Prostitution

Today's installment of "On the Morality Of" concerns the topic of prostitution, and whether it should be legal. Would a perfect society permit this practice, or would it be banned under the law?As I've said before, universal utilitarianism was intended to promote the happiness of all human beings, and no person can decide what makes you happy with more knowledge or authority than you yourself. Consistent with this conclusion, any society that follows UU should place the highest value on … [Read more...]

Open Thread: For Former Christians

I was asked to create this open thread in e-mail, and I'm doing so. From that e-mail:I would like to have an open thread for people who have been Christians for a long time (preferably more than 10 years) and then decided it was not true to post their reasons for their decision. I think this may help me sort things out by weighing their reasons against my reasons and thinking the whole matter through.I don't know how many people there may be on this site who fit that description, but if … [Read more...]

Making Excuses for the Bible

Via Elliptica, I came across a post titled Imprecations, exegesis, and hermeneutics on the blog Higgaion, written by a liberal Christian theologian. The post blasts Wiley Drake and his call for "imprecatory prayers", and argues that Drake has seriously misunderstood the verses he quotes in support of his beliefs.Leaving that issue aside for now, Higgaion goes on to make a larger point about whether we should always imitate the behavior described in the Bible. He asserts that even if the God of … [Read more...]

On Gratitude

This Thursday, November 22, is - at least for my American readers - the holiday of Thanksgiving. Despite the religious connotations that have been attached to this day since the beginning, I think this is a good holiday for atheists. It's one of the few whose message can be rendered in entirely secular terms. Thanksgiving as traditionally practiced is a time to come together with family and friends, to enjoy the simple pleasures of life's abundance, and to give thanks for all the good that has … [Read more...]

Probing the Prosperity Gospel

I'm surprised that this story, "Going After the Money Ministries", hasn't gotten much attention on atheist blogs. Earlier this month, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Eddie Long, Joyce Meyer, and Paula White - six notorious televangelists who preach the "prosperity gospel" - received an ominous letter from Senator Chuck Grassley, ranking Republican member of the Senate Finance Committee, asking them to account for numerous expenditures whose tax-exempt status seems … [Read more...]

Deo Vindice!

Deo vindice!Gott mitt uns!Deus vult!Allahu akhbar!Informed readers may recognize some or all of the phrases above. In case there are any you're not familiar with, here's a quick primer on what each of them means:"Deo vindice" is Latin for "God will defend us" or "God is our vindicator". It was the motto of the slaveholding Confederate States of America, and was engraved on their official seal. The CSA firmly believed that the Christian God was on their side in the … [Read more...]

Poetry Sunday: Church Going

Today's edition of Poetry Sunday features the English poet and novelist Philip Larkin. Born in Coventry in 1922, Larkin received a degree in literature from Oxford in 1943. Though he worked for most of his life as a librarian at the University of Hull, he was well-known and widely acclaimed for his poetry and his work as a literary reviewer and jazz critic. He received numerous awards for his writing in his lifetime, including the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, the German Shakespeare Prize, an … [Read more...]

Calling the Earth to Witness

According to Buddhist tradition, the final stage of Prince Siddhartha Gautama's becoming the Buddha came after he had rejected the extremes of both luxury and asceticism in his quest for enlightenment. Sitting beneath a Bodhi tree in meditation, he vowed not to stir from that spot until he had found the answer to the problem of suffering.While he sat there, he had an encounter with the demon lord Mara, who sought to keep him from enlightenment by breaking his concentration. Mara first … [Read more...]

A Particular God

Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars gives us the scoop on a California school district which voted to display posters declaring "In God We Trust" in every classroom in the district. Although one board member called the display a way of "promoting patriotism", a different quote indicates what the real intention is here:The classroom displays were first suggested by the non-profit group In God We Trust -- America Inc., whose president, Jacquie Sullivan, is a Bakersfield … [Read more...]

Georgia’s Rain Prayer Farce

It may be the 21st century, but you wouldn't know it from stories like this:Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue stepped up to a podium outside the state Capitol on Tuesday and led a solemn crowd of several hundred people in a prayer for rain on his drought-stricken state."We've come together here simply for one reason and one reason only: To very reverently and respectfully pray up a storm," Perdue said after a choir provided a hymn.These past few months, the American South has been suffering from … [Read more...]


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