April 1, 2006

Clearly, what is immaterial in the human mind can influence the physical world, or our acts of will and understanding would be without effect. If our will is free these physical effects are not wholly predictable. —http://www.leaderu.com/ftissues/ft9511/revessay.html A merchant in Baghdad sent his servant to the market. The servant returned, trembling and frightened. The servant told the merchant, “I was jostled in the market, turned around, and saw Death.” “Death made a threatening gesture, and I fled in terror. May… Read more

March 31, 2006

The forces of theocracy are on the march, and Daylight Atheism is keeping a close eye on them. First, an article from the March 3 Legal Times, Alabama Judge Declares War on U.S. Supreme Court: Sitting calmly in his impeccably neat office at Alabama’s Justice Building, state Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker does not look like a man at war with the U.S. Supreme Court. …Last month, Parker wrote an op-ed in The Birmingham News, attacking the high court’s “blatant… Read more

March 30, 2006

A new essay, “Into the Clear Air”, has been posted on Ebon Musings. The article details the four common stages of deconversion and offers help and guidance to people in the process of losing their religion. This is an open thread. Comments and feedback are welcome. Read more

March 30, 2006

For most of human history, philosophers have believed that only the possession of an immaterial soul could confer free will on human beings. (There have been exceptions: the ancient Greek Stoics, for example.) This idea has fallen somewhat out of favor, but there are many theists who still hold to it. They are willing to concede that the universe we live in is an interwoven tapestry of cause and effect, but insist that we are special somehow, that we are… Read more

March 29, 2006

Much mention has been made lately of a recent Pew Research Center study showing that two-thirds of American Christians condone the use of torture. When asked whether the use of torture against terrorism suspects was justified to gain important information, about 15% of white Christians in general, and about 20% of white Catholics, said that it was “often” justified. (Other ethnic groups were not polled.) About an additional 50% said that it was “sometimes” or “rarely” justified. By contrast, 41%… Read more

March 28, 2006

Over the ages, the question of whether we have free will has engaged, confronted, and puzzled philosophers probably more than any other issue, and untold numbers of papers, conferences, books and debates have been expended on tackling it. It is no surprise that so much philosophical ink has been spilled on this question, because it is in a sense the question upon which all other questions depend. If there is no free will, and thus no moral responsibility, it seems… Read more

March 26, 2006

In a previous post, I defended the conclusion that atheists should, under certain circumstances, evangelize on behalf of atheism. I recently read a story that bears on this conclusion, thanks to a recent edition of the Grand Rounds medical blog carnival – a beautiful and moving post titled “The rites of passage”, about a badly injured old man admitted to the emergency room who kept himself alive, seemingly by an act of pure will, until a priest could be found… Read more

March 24, 2006

Turn on the TV, turn to the back pages of a newspaper, or peruse the best-seller lists, and you’re almost certain to come across one of those angels in human form, the psychics. Every day they display their powers to the wonder of believers and the astonishment of skeptics, presciently predicting startling information such as, “The body will be found near water”, or “I see the letter ‘R’ in connection with you.” Though these incredible insights revolutionize the lives of… Read more

March 23, 2006

My post yesterday, “The Quiet Revolution”, discussed some of the positive ways in which atheists are organizing and making inroads into society. But as much as I hate to follow up good news with bad, I feel I would be doing my readers a disservice if I played down the magnitude of what we atheists must confront and overcome if we are ever to become a fully accepted part of society. With that in mind, I call to your attention… Read more

March 22, 2006

In a previous post in the Garden, “An Inspiring Story”, I discussed two ways in which atheism might make inroads into society: It is not inconceivable that atheists are nearing a critical mass, one which when reached will inspire us to organize en masse. If such a thing were to happen, I have no doubt that we could become a tremendous force for societal change for the better. But even if not, there is another possibility: we may gain acceptance… Read more

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