June 9, 2006

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

June 7, 2006

“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

June 5, 2006

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

June 3, 2006

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

June 1, 2006

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

May 30, 2006

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

May 29, 2006

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

May 28, 2006

There seems to be a perception among religious people that atheists believe all religious people to be stupid, ignorant, or deluded. (Witness a recent question on the Yahoo Answers service.) Where this perception comes from is something of a mystery – given how severely underrepresented atheists are in the media, it is almost certain that it does not actually come from anything we have said. Nevertheless, there is no question that a large number of theists take the statement “Hello,… Read more

May 26, 2006

In a recent post, A World in Shadow I, I wrote about how religious superstition was hindering the efforts of health workers to eradicate several treatable Third World diseases. For example, one village in the remote region of Ogi, Nigeria refused permission to treat their local “sacred pond” with a mild pesticide that would wipe out the parasitic guinea worms infesting it, on the grounds that doing so would anger their deceased ancestors. However, if I left it at that,… Read more

May 24, 2006

One of the biblical stories from which the modern-day religious right draws the most inspiration is the fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The religious right has assumed that the sin for which they merited this fate was rampant homosexuality, to the point that “sodomite” has become a derogatory synonym for homosexuals. (Consider the Jack Chick tract “Doom Town”, which contains a variety of grossly offensive antigay caricatures.) However, there is some evidence that this is jumping to conclusions. The… Read more

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