The Apologist’s Turnstile

SubwayTurnstile

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 lets supportive evidence pass through while blocking contradictory evidence. Today, I want to discuss a different but equally common one: the … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: November 5

On my old site, I had regular link roundups for all the stories I saw that interested me, but that I didn't have the time to write about at greater length. And I've had a lot of those stories this week, so here's some things to read over your Saturday morning coffee: • I've previously reported on whether the American Cancer Society turned down a big donation because it came from atheists. Now the redoubtable Greta Christina has written a lengthy follow-up piece for AlterNet, laying out the … [Read more...]

The Duty of External Obedience

While I was doing research for "The Ordinary and Universal Magisterium", I came across some amazing passages in the New Advent Catholic encyclopedia's article on infallibility. Since it can be safely assumed that these still represent the Catholic church's viewpoint, I thought it was worth calling some wider attention to them.The article starts out by making the same threats that are endemic to all forms of Christianity: the ominous proclamation that the church is infallible, and if you don't … [Read more...]

Escaping Christian Patriarchy

Ophelia of Butterflies and Wheels has been writing some excellent posts lately about the abuse and oppression of women in Christian communities. One of them led me to an outstanding blog titled Love, Joy, Feminism. Its author, Libby Anne, grew up in an incredibly strict and fundamentalist Christian home that practiced a way of life she calls "Christian Patriarchy" (some might also refer to it as the Quiverfull movement). She and all her (twelve!) siblings were homeschooled, indoctrinated with … [Read more...]

Rebutting Reasonable Faith: The Evangelical Conspiracy Theory

In "The Aura of Infallibility", I mentioned William Lane Craig's belief in something he calls the "self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit", which he considers to be the most persuasive, crowning argument for Christianity. Basically, all it boils down to is that Craig has a really strong feeling that Christianity is true, and he believes that that feeling should be privileged above any and all evidence.As Craig himself puts it, in question #136:For not only should I continue to have … [Read more...]

Bowing to the Text

By way of The Panda's Thumb, I came across this story that just had to be shared.Regular readers of this site are probably familiar with the arch-creationist William Dembski, one of the founders of the intelligent-design movement. When I last wrote about him, I mentioned that he, like other creationists who insist their work is motivated strictly by science and not religion, has somehow ended up at a conservative Christian seminary - in Dembski's case, the Southwestern Baptist Theological … [Read more...]

The Poisoned Cup of Theodicy

The world has seen and heard enough about the misery and destruction in Haiti this past week that I don't think I need to dwell on it. But I do want to take some time to address the perennial question of theodicy, which comes up in the aftermath of every disaster like this.To an atheist, for whom the Haiti quake was nothing more than the result of tectonic plates slipping - a disaster caused by impersonal natural forces and random chance - there is nothing to explain. The laws of the cosmos … [Read more...]

Stigmata Scars

By Sarah BraaschI'm scared to expose myself like this. But, I'm tired of the shame and the guilt and the fear. I have something important to say. And, I want to comfort other victims of religious abuse who feel alone and afraid.I grew up in an abusive Jehovah's Witness home. When people ask me what my childhood was like, I usually describe it, in all seriousness, as something like growing up in a war zone. I don't mean to belittle or demean the experiences of children who actually grow up … [Read more...]

Mental Slavery and Creeping Atheism

Evangelical pastor Ray Stedman knows the root cause of everything that's wrong with the world:It is not nationalism, it is not racism... it is the human heart. It is the pride of man that fancies he can get along without God.But not to worry, because he advises us how we can conquer this obstacle. To achieve that, we must...take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ. This is extremely important....It is absolutely necessary to do this if you want to have permanent victory. … [Read more...]

Maintaining the Mystery

In last year's post "The Default", I quoted this astonishing concession from theist Andrew Sullivan:I have lived with the voice of Jesus read to me, read by me, and spoken all around me my entire life - and I heard it that day. If I had been born before Jesus' birth, would I have realized this? Of course not. If I had been born in Thailand and raised a Buddhist, would I have interpreted this experience as a function of my Buddhist faith rather than Jesus? If I were a pilgrim right now in … [Read more...]


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