Repost: The Apologist’s Turnstile

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from January 2012.]As I've often mentioned, religion has a set of cognitive tricks - unconscious ideas, prejudices and habits of thought it tries to instill in believers - which shield their minds against contrary argument and make it less likely that they'll leave the faith. One example is the selective wall I've written about in the past, also dubbed "Morton's demon", that … [Read more...]

Pensacola Christian College: The Republicans’ New Feeder School

Prison

I usually pay little attention to the State of the Union address, since it rarely amounts to anything more than political theater. I had it on in the background last week, but I only listened to some of it, and even less to the official Republican rebuttal, which was delivered by Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a congresswoman from Washington state. My offhand impression was that Rodgers' speech was heavy on gauzy rhetoric and bromides about religion and God, but devoid of any actual policy proposals. … [Read more...]

Building Walls Against the World

BricksInWall

When I wrote last month about France enacting same-sex marriage, it wasn't even on my radar that two more U.S. states were about to do the same. But now, Rhode Island (which previously had civil unions) has graduated to full marriage equality, becoming the tenth state to do so, and Delaware followed right after. With this passage, every New England state now stands united in recognizing the humanity of same-sex couples.What makes this especially heartening is that Rhode Island is the … [Read more...]

Submission Theology Is Abuse Theology

I've written a lot about the child-abuse coverup by the hierarchy of the Catholic church, but not because I believe Roman Catholicism is the only religion guilty of these crimes. Far from it! Any religion that preaches the virtues of submission and obedience is inherently vulnerable to abuses of this kind. When religious leaders are believed to possess special wisdom or special favor from God, it's only too easy for them to abuse that power to violate those who trust them.It's happened at a … [Read more...]

From the Mailbag: “I Don’t Argue With People”

BricksInWall

Last year, when I wrote about the death of Savita Halappanavar from anti-choice theology, I pointed out that several Catholic bloggers seemed to think Catholic doctrine should have permitted her to be saved - contrary to every real-world example I'm aware of. In every case I've ever read about where a woman's pregnancy was gravely jeopardizing her life and the Catholic church had the power to create law or policy, they decreed that the morally "correct" position was to let both die rather than t … [Read more...]

Piercing the Republican Epistemic Bubble

I've written some overarching thoughts about last week's presidential election, but I wanted to dwell on one of its more fascinating aspects: the extent to which the Republican party was blindsided by the outcome. Going into Tuesday, countless Republicans had predicted a solid victory for Mitt Romney, and it's clear that this wasn't just a political ploy to sway media coverage. On the contrary, Republicans at every level sincerely believed this - ordinary voters, professional pundits, and … [Read more...]

How Religion’s Demand for Obedience Keeps Us in the Dark Ages

This article was previously published on AlterNet. For the vast majority of human history, the only form of government was the few ruling over the many. As human societies became settled and stratified, tribal chiefs and conquering warlords rose to become kings, pharaohs, and emperors, all ruling with absolute power and passing on their thrones to their children. To justify this obvious inequality and explain why they should reign over everyone else, most of these ancient rulers claimed that … [Read more...]

Rehabilitating the Inquisition

These days, one of the blogs where I spend the most time commenting is Leah Libresco's Unequally Yoked on Patheos. This isn't just because its author has a unique and interesting perspective unlike any I've seen elsewhere, but also because there's a lot more give-and-take between atheists and theists (mostly Catholics) than you find in the comments section of many atheist blogs. And while debating and attempting to persuade believers is a fun and worthwhile pursuit in and of itself, I also do … [Read more...]

The Radicalism of Obedience

As I mentioned in my last link roundup, I wanted to discuss in more detail the Pope's latest Easter homily, in which he directly addresses the "disobedience" of priests who are calling for the ordination of women and an end to mandatory celibacy. There are some interesting implications for how the elites of the Vatican see the future of the Catholic church. The background to this story is that Catholicism is in the grip of a slow-motion demographic crisis: their priests are growing old and … [Read more...]

The Religious Demand for Obedience

My latest column has been posted on AlterNet, How Religion's Demand for Obedience Keeps Us in the Dark Ages. It's about the religious worldview that sees human existence as a strict hierarchy of commandments and submission, how this belief has been used by tyrants and autocrats throughout the ages to justify unaccountable power, and how it continues to oppress human beings today even as the monarchies that once enshrined it have crumbled. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the … [Read more...]


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