Take the Ideological Turing Test

My guest blogger alumnus, Leah of Unequally Yoked, has proposed a very interesting challenge for Christians and atheists alike which she calls the "ideological Turing test":One of the greatest gifts of my time at Yale has been living, writing, and arguing in a community of smart people with whom I fiercely disagree... The imitation test has helped me make sure I really understood what I was rejecting and, in the end, embracing.Unless your enemies are purposefully contrarian... there is … [Read more...]

You Call That Religion?

This is a guest post by Leah of Unequally Yoked. Adam is on vacation.Spoiler Alert: the post below discusses the final number of the musical The Book of Mormon.The Associated Press, in a review titled "Zany Musical 'The Book of Mormon' Will Convert You" said despite the sacrilege you might expect from a show imagined by the creators of South Park, the production was ultimately "pro-religion."  Or, more precisely: Ultimately, believe it or not, this is a pro-religion musical, or at least a … [Read more...]

The Mormon Test

This is a guest post by Leah of Unequally Yoked.  Adam is on vacation.When in argument with Christians, it can be hard to find a good way to explain why you doubt their precepts.  John Loftus has a good idea with his Outsider's Test for Faith, but most Christians believe that their faith can pass the test; it's hard to show them how their faith looks if you haven't been steeped in it.Sometimes I've tried comparing and contrasting with other, conflicting denominations and asking why I should f … [Read more...]

Adapt or Die

This is a guest post by Leah of Unequally Yoked.  Adam is on vacation.My previous two posts on mockery have drawn a lot of criticism, including charges that I am an accommodationist.  If that were the case, the definition of accommodationism had gotten way too broad.  Trying to treat people with respect is different from asserting that their beliefs are true, or, at a minimum, not actively harmful.  Accommodationists have no desire to deconvert Christians or other believers, but there's a lot … [Read more...]

Atheists Don’t Debate (Except When We Do)

A Review of When Atheism Becomes Religion, Part IIIn chapter 3, Hedges gives a two-and-a-half-page-long excerpt of a debate he had with Sam Harris at UCLA in May 2007, moderated by the columnist Robert Scheer, about whether Islam encourages suicide bombing:HARRIS: OK, well, let me deal with your taking the measure of the Muslim world. Happily we do not assess public opinion by having New York Times journalists go out and live in the Muslim world and make friends and get a vibe... A single … [Read more...]

Creationists Flee from Criticism

A few weeks ago, I was alerted by a Google alert to a post, "Conversation With An Atheist", on the site Everyday Christian. Since I'm always interested to find Christians who want to converse with atheists, to see what they have to say about us and to us, I checked it out. It turned out to be a fairly run-of-the-mill creationist argument by a Christian apologist named Jack Wellman.Since my interest was piqued, I posted a comment in reply to Mr. Wellman, and then another when he responded (you … [Read more...]

The Three Kinds of Theism

If you're an atheist who's setting out to debate religious believers, there are three main categories of theism you can expect to meet. Although religious belief is one of the most diverse of human phenomena, with a limitless variety of gradations and exceptions, I think these three suffice to classify nearly all of the theists that a nonbeliever is likely to encounter. If you want to debate, it's important to keep this in mind, because your strategy for dealing with each group needs to be … [Read more...]

Thoughtful Iconoclasts: A Response to Madeleine Bunting

I last mentioned Guardian columnist and Templeton Foundation fellow Madeleine Bunting in 2007, in "On Being Uncontroversial". She's recently written another column attacking atheism, alleging that the New Atheists are drowning out, in her words, "real debates" about religion and faith.Personally, I don't see the basis of her complaint. I think we've been provoking some very good debates - about the proper role of religion in society, how much influence it should have, whether and to what … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Battle Royale Edition

This comment was left on a different post by a visitor calling himself Ty:I cannot imagine how you could believe that there is no savior in this world. I am 14, and strongly believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of the whole world. I'm almost offended that you could think there is no God. If you really believe that you have evidence that Christ is not the Savior of the world, I'd like to hear your claims. No offense to you or any other atheist, but I believe that they would … [Read more...]

Ten Questions to Ask Your Pastor

The New York Times recently ran a depressing article about the obstacles faced by public school science teachers. I don't envy teachers their job, as important as it is: between surly and unruly students, cash-strapped school districts, incompetent administrators, and the regimented, monotonous teaching needed to drill classes for standardized testing, they have more than enough to deal with. But this outrage may surpass all the others: religious students who have been programmed by their … [Read more...]


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