Repost: The Power of Christ Compels You

Atheists are not actually afraid of this.

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from June 2006.]Earlier tonight I received a highly amusing e-mail whose author seemed confident that I would cease to be an atheist if I performed a magical ritual of their devising. I don't normally post feedback e-mail in full, but since this one was sent to me anonymously, I have no qualms in doing so:From: Anonymous <anonymous@anonymous.net> Date: Sat, 10 Jun … [Read more...]

If the Secret Really Worked…

I've written in the past about the Secret, more properly called the Law of Attraction, the perenially popular New Age idea which says that merely thinking about something draws it to you and causes it to appear in your life. One consistent aspect of this idea is that its advocates claim it's an invariable natural law, as certain and predictable in its operation as gravity - although they never seem to explain what happens if two people both wish for incompatible things, like the outcome of an … [Read more...]

Rick Perry’s Prayer Follies

Whether you're an atheist or not, you should be alarmed by the sight of elected officials making a big public show of praying during a crisis. It's not that prayer itself does anything one way or the other - it's that their beseeching the gods for help is a good hint, not just that they have no ideas, but that they've given up even trying and are staking their hopes on a miracle. Which is why this story, about the man who happens to be the most recent entrant in the Republican presidential … [Read more...]

Exclusive: See God’s Actual Handwriting!

While I was in San Francisco this January, I happened to notice this pamphlet in a newspaper kiosk outside my hotel:Intrigued, I picked up a copy and read more. It turns out that this is the newsletter of one Vassula Ryden, a Greek housewife who, for over twenty years now, has been receiving regular messages from her guardian angel, God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary, and many more august theological personages. Naturally, she's made it her mission to tell the world - because, … [Read more...]

The Language of God: Science Works!

The Language of God, Chapter 5By B.J. MarshallThe tagline of this books is "A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief." I've seen that the central thesis of the book is trying to harmonize religion and science, so I was surprised to find Collins spending a lot of time talking about how he mapped the genome - I could almost read the nostalgia in his voice - including the privatization issue that arose when Craig Venter (Celera) got into the genome-mapping fray. Part of how Chapter 5 begins is … [Read more...]

What Does It Mean for Prayer to be Untestable?

People who are ignorant of science sometimes speak as if the scientific method was some esoteric, arcane method of problem-solving, applicable only to a few highly specialized areas of inquiry and having no relevance to everyday life. But nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, the scientific method is just a more sophisticated, more careful way of asking and answering questions about what is true, with extra safeguards built in to counteract the ways that human beings often fool or … [Read more...]

Relics and Faith

Guest post by Peter NothnagleOn June 30, someone stole a piece of the True Cross (you know the one I mean) that was enshrined in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. It had been kept in a small compartment in the base of a crucifix hanging on a wall in a chapel. Someone walked in, pried it open, and helped himself. That was a mean thing to do.The faithful are very attached to their sacred relics. They see these bits of bone, cloth, vegetable matter, and globs of goo as links to the … [Read more...]

No Payment For Prayer: Christian Science and Health Care Reform

With the historic passage of sweeping health insurance reform, Americans have reason to rejoice this week. For the first time, and despite hysterical opposition from the party of conspiracy nuts and theocrats, our government has enshrined in law the idea that every citizen has a right to affordable health care. Even if the law is far from perfect, it's still a huge advance over the alternative of doing nothing - and history shows that most major pieces of progressive social legislation, … [Read more...]

William Dembski on Faith Healers

Most of you have probably heard the name of William Dembski, one of the prominent advocates of intelligent-design creationism. Like all ID advocates, Dembski claims vehemently that his work is scientific and not in any way motivated by his religious beliefs, which is why he's currently a professor of philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.But never mind that; today, somewhat surprisingly, I come to praise Dembski rather than bury him. That's because I've … [Read more...]

When Prayer Fails

Dave Schmeltzer's book Not the Religious Type has many examples of what he calls "napkin stories" (i.e., short enough to write on a napkin), brief anecdotes from people who claim to have experienced miraculous events in their lives when they trusted in God. Here's a typical one:I found out that my aunt and uncle's marriage was unraveling due to an affair. I fasted and prayed for them. After thirty-eight days, I was contacted by my uncle. He was about to sign a lease on an apartment to move in … [Read more...]


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