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...]

A Seriously Warped Moral Compass

"So what would you consider immoral?" I asked.It was a crisp, cold night, on the boundary between late fall and early winter, and the tang of frost and woodsmoke hung in the air. An orange gibbous moon was rising through the tangled leafless fingers of the trees into a clear, dark night sky. The air had a biting chill, but my friend and I were not out in it. We were indoors, in the recently built student coffeehouse of Practical Bible College, a warm and well-lit space paneled in rich earth … [Read more...]

Season's Change

I awoke this morning to the pattering of a soft November rain. Though I am not usually a morning person, I don't mind saying that I sprang out of bed today with more enthusiasm than I have in a long time, and with good reason. Last night's preliminary election results made it clear that there would be much to feel joy about this day, and I was not disappointed by that prediction.I deliberately avoided all news sources for most of yesterday, knowing that until the polls closed, there would be … [Read more...]

The Keys to Heaven

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.—Matthew 16:18-19 (RSV)Temptation's strong (Salvation's gone) I'm on my way To Hell's half acre How will I ever (How will I ever) Get to Heaven now...—The Dixie Chicks, "Lubbock or Leave … [Read more...]

The Dog Owners: A Parable

Inspired by the recent downfall of Ted Haggard:Once upon a time there were two men, each of whom owned a dog. The first man was glad to own and care for his dog, knowing that pets, if properly cared for, can bring much joy into one's life. He took his dog on walks every day and played catch with it in the park, and at night they slept snuggled together. Because the man was a gentle and kindly master, the dog came to love him and respect him, and it followed his good example and became a gentle … [Read more...]

In Memory of Allan Glenn

February 12, 2005, was the day I first met Allan Glenn. It was near the beginning of my second semester in graduate school, in New York City, and on that day I was playing host to a meetup of people from the Internet Infidels message board who lived in and around the city. Time inevitably blurs memory, but as I recall, it was a clear, bright Saturday afternoon, with the crisp chill of winter not yet past, but a brilliant sun shining that foretold the arrival of spring.Early in the afternoon, … [Read more...]

The System Works!

I'm not normally one to indulge in schadenfreude, but here's a piece of news I cannot restrain my glee over hearing: Kent Hovind and his wife have been convicted of tax fraud - and it couldn't have happened to two nicer people.The Hovinds were charged in July with twelve counts of willful failure to pay income taxes, forty-five counts of structuring financial transactions to avoid bank reporting requirements, and one count of impeding an IRS investigation through the filing of frivolous … [Read more...]