Rapture Bonds

One of the great virtues of market forces is that they consistently reward investors who can correctly predict future events. Whenever two people disagree about the plausibility of some event, you can create a financial instrument whereby the one who's right can profit at the expense of the one who's wrong.The Christian community in America, particularly that section of it aligned with the religious right, commands vast wealth and influence. Although atheists are beginning to make our mark, … [Read more...]

On Inerrancy

Pandagon's recent post on Carlton Pearson, and the comment thread there, got me thinking about the question of inerrancy.Last February, in "The Aura of Infallibility", I observed that the apologist's claim of scriptural inerrancy is really a claim of personal inerrancy. Even if I believe a book to be without error, I must rationally admit that I could be wrong about that. The only way to maintain a claim of inerrancy with absolute confidence, as many theists do, is to believe that I myself am … [Read more...]

Poetry Sunday: Thanksgiving

I haven't featured any compositions by the freethinking poet Philip Appleman lately, so with this edition of Poetry Sunday, I intend to address that. This is an especially lovely piece by Prof. Appleman from the November 2007 edition of the FFRF's newsletter Freethought Today, one I've been wanting to reprint on Daylight Atheism for some time. Whom can an atheist thank for the good fortune in their life, if not a deity? This poem suggests an answer to that question.Philip Appleman is the … [Read more...]

A Glimpse of the Garden

By way of Pandagon, I came across this incredible story from NPR's This American Life, an hourlong report on, and interview with, the evangelical pastor Carlton Pearson.Pearson was once one of the rising stars of the religious right: a hardcore Pentecostal preacher, head of an Oklahoma megachurch, a protege of Oral Roberts and a spokesman for George Bush's faith-based initiatives who had the ear of the White House under three different presidents. He preached alongside Jerry Falwell, Jim … [Read more...]

Strange and Curious Sects: The Millerites

Today's edition of "Strange and Curious Sects" concerns a now-defunct religious group, but one which has offshoots that survive to the present day. Like the stories of John Frum and Sabbatai Zevi, it's also a lesson in the almost limitless capacity of the human mind to rationalize away disappointment.William Miller was born in 1782 in Massachusetts. A voracious reader, he converted to deism when he was young, but his belief in an intervening god would be restored in the War of 1812. Miller … [Read more...]

Take Action: Support Atheism in Washington State

Last week, in "Getting Our Message Out", I wrote about the winter solstice sign that the FFRF posted in Washington state's capitol building. The sign was put up after the state had legally obliged itself to create an open forum by allowing the placement of other privately sponsored displays carrying specifically Christian-themed messages, including a nativity scene. The FFRF's sign bears the following message:At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail.There are no gods, no … [Read more...]

Fertile Soil

We've arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements - transportation, communications, and all other industries; agriculture, medicine, education, entertainment, protecting the environment; and even the key democratic institution of voting - profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this … [Read more...]

Announcements and Miscellany

• Daylight Atheism reader Juan Felipe has completed Spanish translations of two more Ebon Musings essays, "La sombra del cambio" (Shadow of Turning), and "Un juego de trile cósmico" (The Cosmic Shell Game). Please check them out and be sure to thank him for his fine work. And if you're interested in joining the effort to translate, into Spanish or any other language, please e-mail me and let me know.Also, I have two announcements I was asked to pass along:• First, Q … [Read more...]

Why Hanukkah?

For the sake of the holidays, here's a bit of nostalgia:My parents came from two different religious traditions - Roman Catholicism on my father's side, liberal Judaism on my mother's side - although neither of them were practicing. Growing up, I had no exposure at all to Christianity, and the extent of my exposure to Judaism was that we lit candles on a menorah and got presents and chocolate coins from my grandmother at Hanukkah. I don't recall anyone ever telling me the religious origins of … [Read more...]

Speaking Truth to Popularity

When the great freethought orator Robert Ingersoll died in 1899, the New York Times eulogized him thusly:...there is something more in the orator's art than the power of expression. There must also be sympathy in the sense of an electrical connection which is set up between speaker and hearers. And eminently Ingersoll had this. He never misjudged, more properly, he never misfelt his audience....He held the keys of laughter and of tears, and there are many passages, mostly, indeed, detached … [Read more...]