Should Scientists Speak Out Against Religion?

Thanksgiving season this year has been anything but peaceful. Providing further evidence of the growing assertiveness of atheists, the war of words between faith and reason has erupted into the headlines once again. This time it came in the form of a scientific forum in California titled "Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival", where a vigorous debate was waged over whether and how scientists should fight against religious belief in society.And the aftershocks of this debate … [Read more...]

The Least We Can Do

by Alexander WeaverI drove from Sacramento to Portland (Rancho Cordova to Wilsonville, technically) last night (as of the original writing on 11/08/06), over mountains and through rain and what I would characterize as "pea soup fog." This is important in other contexts, but for our purposes the main relevance is that it got me to Portland. I got in at 05:30, slept for 6 hours and then booked a flight back to Sacramento, departing at 16:50. The flight was fully booked, and for a change everyone … [Read more...]

We Are the Swing Vote

In a post from October titled "Tipping the Scales", I wrote that although non-believers are still outnumbered by the conventionally religious, there are encouraging signs of recent growth and increasing organization among atheists and agnostics, signs which...may well be the grains of sand that presage a much larger slide in the near future, and lead to a much more dramatic tipping of the scales.If I were inclined to claim supernatural foresight for myself, I might try to turn that … [Read more...]

So What If It Is?

Despite the Democrats' smashing victory in the 2006 midterm elections, there is still distressing evidence that America as a nation has much moral progress left to make. I am speaking of gay marriage bans, which were approved by voters in seven states (Arizona being the exception, and the first state in the nation to reject such a ban), bringing the total number of states with such a ban to 27. Several of these states have even more oppressive laws that prohibit not only gay marriage but any … [Read more...]

A World in Shadow III

A recent post from the blog Respectful Insolence, A different kind of alternative medicine "testimonial", graphically illustrated the danger of choosing non-scientific "alternative" treatments over evidence-based medicine when faced with a potentially fatal disease. The post told the tragic story of Michaela Jakubczyk-Eckert, a woman with malignant breast cancer who decided to forsake conventional medical treatment in favor of quackery. The result was her death; but only after the cancer had … [Read more...]

Religion’s Harm to Women

In our society, it is still widely considered rude to criticize opinions and practices that arise from religious belief, no matter how evil or abhorrent they are. Even when it comes to the murderous fanatics who kill in the name of Islam, politicians and other public figures who criticize them often take pains to label their actions as arising from a twisted or self-serving interpretation, as though it would be impossible for a legitimate and sincere interpretation of any religion to inspire … [Read more...]

New on Ebon Musings: The Screwtape Letters

A new essay has been posted on Ebon Musings, a review of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. While Lewis' attacks on atheism are largely misguided straw men, the book does offer a surprising amount of ammunition for atheists to use against fundamentalist Christianity.This is an open thread. Comments and discussion are welcome. … [Read more...]

Name That God

Think quickly: What was the religion of the person who wrote the following?"Oh God, open all doors for me. Oh God who answers prayers and answers those who ask you, I am asking you for your help. I am asking you for forgiveness. I am asking you to lighten my way. I am asking you to lift the burden I feel. Oh God, you who open all doors, please open all doors to me, open all venues for me, open all avenues for me. God, I trust in you. God, I lay myself in your hands."Or this: without … [Read more...]

Religious Bigotry Caught Red-Handed

November has been quite the month for feeling schadenfreude. Between Kent Hovind's conviction, Ted Haggard's spectacular fall from grace, and the Republicans' crushing loss in the midterm elections, atheists have had much to rejoice over, and our political adversaries much occasion to mourn. And now, there is another encouraging piece of news where the good guys win.According to the Lippard Blog, which came to my attention via Pharyngula, a religious bigot who is a high-school teacher has been … [Read more...]

What Will Replace Religion?

One argument for theism that I have always found interesting is the argument that humans do not have desires for which there exists no corresponding object in the real world. For example, we desire water, and water exists; we desire food, and food exists; we desire love and friendship, and those things exist. Similarly, this reasoning goes, human beings innately desire fellowship with God, and this strongly suggests that God exists.This argument is clever, but naive. A straightforward … [Read more...]


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