On Faith Healing Delusions

In April, I wrote about religious exemptions from child abuse laws, and today I want to revisit the topic.I bring this up because, a few weeks ago, I was walking by a Christian Science church and decided to take some of the free literature they had in a box out front. The literature turned out to be issues of the Christian Science Sentinel, a magazine which discusses world events and everyday life from the church's perspective. Most importantly, it contains numerous stories of … [Read more...]

Lessons from Niagara

In last month's post on the contributions of freethinkers, I outlined the life of the pioneering civil-rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois. Today, I want to focus on one aspect of Du Bois' life, one that still holds resonance for atheists and others continuing the fight for full equality for all people.In July 1905, Du Bois and some fellow civil-rights activists met at Niagara Falls, on the Canadian side of the border, to found the so-called Niagara Movement. Named not just for the location but for … [Read more...]

In Which I Am Attacked By a U.S. Senator

No, I'm not kidding.In August, you may recall, I wrote a post titled "Why I'm Donating to Kay Hagan". This post concerned the U.S. Senate race in North Carolina, where Democratic candidate Kay Hagan is running against the Republican incumbent Elizabeth Dole. The focus of my post was a press release from the Dole campaign attacking Hagan for attending a fundraiser held by Wendy and Woody Kaminer, who are politically active atheists. In this press release, the Dole campaign pandered to … [Read more...]

Book Review: The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality

(Editor's Note: The following review was solicited and is written in accordance with this site's policy for such reviews.)Summary: A quiet, thoughtful, non-polemical book. At times Comte-Sponville comes close to conceding more than he should, but his positive evocation of atheism is a much-needed effort and may be appealing to theists grappling with the first stirrings of deconversion.Andre Comte-Sponville's The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality is a unique book. Though written by an … [Read more...]

Season’s Warning: The Bowery Mission

The other day, I got this piece of mail soliciting donations for a "Thanksgiving meal ticket" for New York City's homeless, from an organization calling itself the Bowery Mission:I skimmed the letter, which looked like a run-of-the-mill charity solicitation. (I normally give to America's Second Harvest for this sort of thing.) I was about to throw it away when a thought occurred to me: The name "The Bowery Mission" sounds distinctly … [Read more...]

Left Behind and Selective Literalism

In "The Rapture and the Fig Tree", I wrote about how end-times believers are always looking to reconstruct the past, seeking to force-fit the present into a framework of scripture written to apply to events in long-gone times. Given that many of these verses apply to people and places that no longer exist, a major part of this contrived exegesis is what I call "selective literalism": interpreting one verse literally and another one metaphorically, or even interpreting different parts of the same … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch XIV: Religious Right Lawbreakers

As reported by Americans United, thirty-three religious right churches endorsed Republican politicians from the pulpit on Sunday. This event was planned and orchestrated by the Alliance Defense Fund, a religious right legal group, which hopes to use it as a test case to have laws against church politicking declared unconstitutional.Let's emphasize at the outset something that religious-right spokesmen, in the coming weeks, will be working their hardest to deceive everyone about. There are no … [Read more...]

Extinguishing the Fear of Hell

The other week, I received an excellent suggestion from a Daylight Atheism commenter via e-mail. He suggested I write a post on the following topic: How can a former believer overcome the vestigial fear of Hell?I suspect this is a common problem. Many religions go to great effort to inculcate in their followers an instinctive terror of breaking the rules, and this irrational fear can often linger and continue to traumatize a person even after they have consciously and rationally decided that … [Read more...]

On Expertise

One of the most common complaints leveled against Richard Dawkins (and other atheist writers) is that his understanding of religion isn't sufficiently sophisticated - that he dismisses religion without delving into all its intricacies of doctrine. For instance, Terry Eagleton:What, one wonders, are Dawkins's views on the epistemological differences between Aquinas and Duns Scotus? Has he read Eriugena on subjectivity, Rahner on grace or Moltmann on hope? Has he even heard of them?What any … [Read more...]

The Contributions of Freethinkers: W.E.B. Du Bois

It's often been observed that atheism, or at least outspoken atheism, seems rarer among America's black community than among American society in general. Although I don't know why that's true, I suspect that it may stem from the tendency of a minority group, especially one that's often discriminated against by wider society, to seek to preserve its heritage and uphold its distinctiveness by emphasizing a shared cultural identity.Regardless, it would be unfortunate if the black community in … [Read more...]


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