Inspired by a recent post by Pam Spaulding about the antics of Fred Phelps and his clan of lunatic hatemongers, I’d like to propose an idea for how this group could be humiliated, and possibly even stopped altogether. The sole raison d’etre of Phelps’ church is to travel around the country picketing anything and everything that they believe demonstrates pro-gay sentiments. Although they have branched out somewhat, much of their ire still seems to be directed at the play The… Read more

A major theme in modern evangelical Christianity is that humankind is completely depraved, that we are helpless to redeem ourselves by our own efforts and only by trusting in Jesus’ redemptive death on the cross can we be freed from sin. But, according to the Christians’ own holy text, this is not true. Scripture gives explicit instructions for how human beings can save themselves without God’s help, as we can see in the following little-known Bible verse. Then answered the… Read more

Earlier tonight I received a highly amusing e-mail whose author seemed confident that I would cease to be an atheist if I performed a magical ritual of their devising. I do not normally post feedback e-mail in full, but since this one was sent to me anonymously, I have no qualms in doing so: From: Anonymous <anonymous@anonymous.net> Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2006 20:23:12 -0400 Subject: Want To Prove that You are a Real Atheist? TAKE THIS TEST!!!!!!! Want to prove… Read more

Despite their fervent denials of evolution, the religious right constantly shows by their own behavior that humanity is more closely related to the rest of the animal kingdom than they would like to admit. Just consider, as an example, how uncannily similar their behavior is to the common groundhog. Just as the groundhog’s annual emergence foretells whether there will be a continuation of winter, so too on every even-numbered year in America, the religious right crawls out of its hole…. Read more

“I’m unsure where I really stand on this book or the ideas in it, but would really love to know your true motives for writing the review. It seems so obvious, but if you actually believed (or didn’t believe) what you claim, you would spend your energy elsewhere. Why do you care?” –from a recent feedback received on Ebon Musings “Doubt, like faith, has to be learned. It is a skill. But the curious thing about skepticism is that its… Read more

I don’t regularly read the New York Daily News, which could be generously described as a tabloid, but a story in the May 29 edition happened to catch my attention, and not in a good way. To the right is a scan of the page (click for larger version): Just below a story on the birth of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s newborn daughter is an article by the paper’s astrology columnist, Susan Miller, confidently asserting what the girl’s personality… Read more

An important fact that the modern-day religious right does not grasp is that the principle of church-state separation, which they revile so bitterly, was enacted for their benefit. It is probably not a coincidence that in Europe, where many nations still have established churches that are a legacy of earlier ages, church attendance is dropping precipitously, whereas in the United States, which has always had a vigorous tradition of separation, churches and sects of all kinds flourish and attendance and… Read more

For more than a hundred years of human history, the words “the 21st century” were used as shorthand for the distant, advanced future. Utopians and futurists looked forward to an era of transformation, when knowledge and will would reshape human society almost beyond recognition. Now we are in the 21st century, and we can see for ourselves how those prognostications have fared. In many ways they have fallen short. We still have war, crime, disease and poverty; we do not… Read more

It was one day several months ago, while I was still in graduate school in New York City, I went to Manhattan’s Union Theological Seminary to check out some books from their library to review for Ebon Musings. As I passed through the doors, I felt the momentary flash of irrational anxiety that I sometimes feel when entering such places – will they realize who I am? what will they say if they do? – but of course no such… Read more

In the United States, this Monday is Memorial Day, established by Congress to commemorate America’s war dead. Across the nation, the day is marked by parades and solemn ceremonies, 21-gun salutes, roll calls of the names of the fallen, and flags, wreaths and ribbons placed on the graves of veterans. These ceremonies are familiar to us; we repeat them every year. And yet, those flags seem to have a special poignancy this year. Against the green grass, their colors seem… Read more

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