The Harris-Sullivan Debate: III

In the previous exchange from their debate, Andrew Sullivan has declared that his faith in God is not based on any evidence whatsoever, and no imaginable evidence could cause him to change his mind about it. Sam Harris reacts with bemusement, as well he might:I now feel like a tennis player, in mid-serve, who notices that his opponent is no longer holding a racket.You have simply declared your faith to be immune to rational challenge. As you didn't come to believe in God by taking any state … [Read more...]

Subduing the Earth

Christianity's relationship with the environmental movement has always been a rocky one. While some groups of Christians view protecting the planet to be a sacred imperative, others - an alarmingly large number of others - believe that God gave us the Earth to use and exploit in any way we deem fit, and since Jesus is coming back real soon to destroy the world anyway, it really doesn't matter what we do to it in the meantime.Now, Pharyngula gives us not one but two examples of prominent … [Read more...]

The Harris-Sullivan Debate: II

As the debate continues, Sam Harris responds to Andrew Sullivan's contention that many of the fundamentalists he knows are compassionate, caring people who do many selfless good deeds for others:For instance, you claim that many fundamentalists are tolerant of dissent and capable of friendship with you despite their dogmatic views about sex. You also remind me that many devoutly religious people do good things on the basis of their religious beliefs. I do not doubt either of these … [Read more...]

The Tomb of Jesus?

The media has been abuzz lately over a Discovery Channel special about a tomb in Israel that, according to the show's producers, may once have contained the bones of Jesus Christ.The tomb was discovered in 1980 during an archaeological excavation in Jerusalem. Inside, researchers found ten ossuaries - carved stone boxes used in many ancient cultures to inter human bones. Six of the ten ossuaries bore inscriptions of the names of their occupants, including, allegedly, "Jesus, son of Joseph", … [Read more...]

FFRF at the Supreme Court

Tomorrow, February 28, will be a date of tremendous importance for all friends of church-state separation in the United States of America. For tomorrow, Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom from Religion Foundation will be presenting oral arguments before the nine justices of the Supreme Court, in the case of Hein v. FFRF. The principle at stake is whether American citizens, by virtue of their status as taxpayers, have the right to bring suit against the executive branch of the … [Read more...]

The Harris-Sullivan Debate: I

Since last month, Beliefnet has been hosting a debate between Sam Harris, atheist author and neuroscientist, and Andrew Sullivan, the conservative commentator and devout Catholic.This is a wonderful debate, and I strongly encourage my visitors to read it for themselves. Both participants are highly educated, articulate and persuasive, and both do an admirable job of advocating for their respective positions, with excellent points traded on both sides and a refreshing lack of animosity. Harris … [Read more...]

The Virtues: Be Passionate

The fifth of the Virtues is passion; in the ancient lists of cardinal virtues, it was sometimes referred to as diligence or zeal. In his famous list of virtues, Benjamin Franklin called it industry. All these terms describe basically the same quality. Passion is the opposite of laziness, apathy, and nihilism: it implies placing value on the right qualities, making the best use of one's time, and being diligent and tireless in defense of the good.There is substantial truth in the Bible's … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch IX: A Religious Police State

I have written in the past about the paranoid, twisted obsession that most religious fundamentalists have with sex. Rather than viewing it as a natural, healthy part of human life, and a source of pleasure and emotional connection when engaged in responsibly, excessive religious devotion leads some believers to view sex as a menacing and ever-present temptation to sin that must be resisted at all costs. Some of these go even further and view sex not only as a great sin, but seemingly the only … [Read more...]

Advice to a Christian

Via Feministe, I've come across a post called A request for advice, on a blog titled Contraception and Christianity. The author, Contraskeptic, is an evangelical Christian wrestling with the issue of whether it is a sin to use birth control.As Contraskeptic explains, his wife has been through three difficult, stressful pregnancies, all three of which were C-sections. The third pregnancy was unplanned, and occurred despite their efforts to avoid it by restricting sexual intercourse to the one … [Read more...]

A Daylight Atheism Consumer Warning

Consumers, be advised! When you want to know the future or ward off bad fortune through the invocation of magical power, don't trust just any fake dime-store psychic. Be sure to choose only the best fake psychics for all your supernatural needs.Such is the message of a bulletin issued recently by the United Kingdom's official consumer-protection agency:The UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has warned consumers not to fall for scams perpetrated by bogus clairvoyants, fortune tellers and … [Read more...]


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