The Case for a Creator: Astroturfing Science

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 4Lee Strobel's usual interview technique is to ask softball questions that are carefully phrased to make it as easy as possible for his interviewees to "refute" them. But credit where credit's due - in the next section of chapter 4, he actually asks a good one. In talking to ID advocate Stephen Meyer, he brings up the evidence I discussed in my previous post:"If the scientific evidence for theism is so compelling... then why don't more scientists believe in … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: Why Cosmologists Are Atheists

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 4Strobel's next interview is with Stephen Meyer, a philosopher who's also one of the cofounders of the Discovery Institute. Strobel and Meyer touch on several topics (fine-tuning, irreducible complexity) that will be discussed in more detail in later chapters, so I'll defer responding to those arguments for now. Amusingly, Strobel also gives Meyer credit for contributing to Of Pandas and People - the textbook which provided one of the crucial pieces of evidence … [Read more...]

The Science Gap

While we're on the topic of science and the public, I came across another opinion poll worth mentioning: a survey released this month by Pew, Public Praises Science; Scientists Fault Public, Media, which analyzes how the public views scientific achievement and what professional scientists think of how their work is covered in the media (HT: Obsidian Wings). There's lots to chew over in this report, but I want to focus on this section, which shows how many ideas that are accepted by an … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: Steve Statistics

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 3Chapter 3 of Case, which interviews the creationist Jonathan Wells, haphazardly mixes together claims from many different scientific disciplines and will probably take the most installments of any chapter to fully refute. But we'll begin with a simpler claim. As I mentioned previously, Strobel seeks to create the appearance of a scientific controversy raging over evolution. His primary piece of evidence is the Discovery Institute's infamous petition, "A … [Read more...]

Hold and Build

Although there's been plenty of good news for atheists in recent weeks, stories that showcase our growing influence and assertiveness, this is no time for us to become complacent. We still have significant work to do to shore up the foundations of our movement, as this Times op-ed by Charles M. Blow explains:...a study entitled "Faith in Flux" issued this week by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life questioned nearly 3,000 people and found that most children raised unaffiliated with a … [Read more...]

The 2008 ARIS: Atheist State of the Nation

As you've surely heard by now, the landmark 2008 American Religious Identification Survey has just been released. The ARIS is an enormous study that questioned over 50,000 respondents to assemble a broad picture of religious belief and disbelief in the United States, building on previous surveys from 1990 and 2001.The 2001 results showed that nonbelievers had made incredible gains, rising from 8% to just over 14% of the U.S. population in just ten years - a genuine demographic boom. The new … [Read more...]

The Decline of the Catholic Church

In this past August's post "On Desecration", concerning the infamous PZ Myers wafer affair, I mocked the ignorance of a group calling itself the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy:We find the actions of University of Minnesota (Morris) Professor Paul Myers reprehensible, inexcusable, and unconstitutional.At the time, I didn't think this was anything other than the raving of a few right-wing Catholic wackaloons, even if they were priests. But I may have to change that assessment. To judge by … [Read more...]

The Fading of the Church

The growth of atheism is coming at the expense of religion. As freethought makes gains in society, it will inevitably start by appealing to those who are religious only by default - the people who go to church because they've never known an alternative, those who are receptive to our message and easily persuaded. And as their members join us or simply drift away, the larger, established churches are bound to begin feeling the sting of declining membership. There are encouraging signs that this … [Read more...]

A Riotous Diversity

Much head-scratching has been occasioned by the Pew Forum's latest report from its U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, which found, among other things, that 21% of atheists claim to believe in some sort of god. I've linked to a press release from the Secular Coalition for America on this finding, and I'd like to add some comments of my own.To explain this, one could make a sarcastic quip that 21% of atheists either didn't hear the pollster correctly or else need to consult a dictionary for the … [Read more...]

Two Poles

While reading Richard Sloan's book Blind Faith, I came across a passage that jumped out at me:[Gallup Polling] also indicates that from 1939 to 2005, 37 to 49 percent of those surveyed reported that they attended church or synagogue in the week before they were surveyed. From the period to 1992 to 2005, those who reported that they attended once per week ranged from 28 to 36 percent. For those reporting attendance almost every week, the range was 9 to 14 percent.What I noticed is that the … [Read more...]


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