Conflicting Miracles

"Saint Jnanadeva is revered for his Bhagavad Gita translation and commentary in the Maharastrian language. Among several miracles that established this 13th-century saint's reputation, the most famous involved a water buffalo. Challenged by the arrogant brahmins of Paithan that he was not qualified to recite the Vedas, Jnanadeva replied, 'Anyone can recite the Vedas.' He placed his hand upon a nearby water buffalo, which proceeded to correctly chant Vedic verses for more than an … [Read more...]

Georgia’s Rain Prayer Farce

It may be the 21st century, but you wouldn't know it from stories like this:Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue stepped up to a podium outside the state Capitol on Tuesday and led a solemn crowd of several hundred people in a prayer for rain on his drought-stricken state."We've come together here simply for one reason and one reason only: To very reverently and respectfully pray up a storm," Perdue said after a choir provided a hymn.These past few months, the American South has been suffering from … [Read more...]

On Incorruptibility

One of the stranger supposed miracles in the Christian catalog is the miracle of incorruptibility. More common in Catholicism (I have yet to come across any Protestant examples), this term refers to a saint or holy person whose body miraculously refuses to decompose after death, instead remaining intact and even lifelike.This apologist site lists some of the more prominent Catholic incorruptibles, though as is usual with apologetics, considerable exaggeration has crept in. For example, … [Read more...]

AU Under Attack!

Despite the serious-sounding title, I'm laughing as I write this post. Yes, Americans United for Separation of Church and State is under attack. Yes, the perpetrators are a group of radical Christian dominionists who want to turn this country into their own vision of theocracy. Yes, their aim is to cause great harm and possibly even death to members of Americans United. So why am I so unconcerned?Because the attack is being waged through prayer.In light of the recent attack from the enemies … [Read more...]

On Magic(k)

Throughout history, groups such as the Puritans have railed against what they see as the overly elaborate and ostentatious ceremony and ritual surrounding religious events. But despite the fulminations of religious reformers, ceremony and ritual are not superfluous add-ons to faith, but very much at the core of it. Belief in the supernatural is usually intended to give the believer a sense of control over events, and a highly elaborate, ritualized ceremony is often more effective at this than a … [Read more...]

Do You Really Believe That?

Noah's FloodToday I'm introducing a new post series on Daylight Atheism, "Do You Really Believe That?" The purpose of this series is to highlight religious claims that are so extravagantly bizarre, so manifestly at odds with everything we know about the universe, or so just plain ridiculous that even religious believers shouldn't be able to take them seriously. I'll begin today with one of the most obviously ludicrous and implausible parts of the Bible, the story of Noah's flood. As absurd as … [Read more...]

Book/Movie Review: The Secret

Lately, The Secret - a movie and its companion book produced by Rhonda Byrne - have been burning up the bestseller lists and have attracted endorsements from influential celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey. Marketed in the self-help genre, it promises viewers the key to achieving all their life goals through the power of positive thinking. (The name is a misnomer, since The Secret's teachings are hardly a secret but have been a prominent part of New Age belief systems for decades, dating back at … [Read more...]

Rebuking the Devil

I have written several times in the past about how religious superstition, when it is taken seriously, causes harm and suffering to real people by dissuading them from seeking the evidence-based treatments they need. But a new story from the March 31 edition of Newsday, Trying to change minds in the Congo, is one of the most horrifying illustrations of this principle I have yet seen.The African Republic of the Congo, a country of 3.7 million people, has only one clinical psychiatrist. Dr. … [Read more...]

Popular Delusions V: Santa Claus

I write the Popular Delusions series to critically investigate widely believed pseudosciences and superstitions. And while the topic of my latest entry in this series may seem odd, I think it fits - for after all, are there not tens of millions around the globe who are taught to believe in Santa Claus or other seasonal gift-givers? There are many pseudosciences believed by adults that do not command such a wide following.The figure of Santa Claus is uniquely paradoxical for atheists. On the … [Read more...]

Holy Water, Frail Hope

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Shivering under a tattered blanket, a young woman tries to sleep at the foot of the mist-shrouded Entoto Mountain, north of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa...."I decided to come to Entoto to seek a cure from the holy water after a doctor told me that I am HIV-positive," Abebech Alemu, 35, said."I am a follower of the Orthodox faith. I strongly believe that I will be cured by drinking the holy water rather than drugs," she added.—Tsegaye Tadesse, "Believers … [Read more...]


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