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...]

Popular Delusions III: Faith Healing

A frequent point of contention in debates over religion is whether God's existence is a topic that can be addressed by science. Interestingly, this is one of the few issues where various people on both sides take both stances. Some scientists, such as the late Stephen Jay Gould and his principle of "nonoverlapping magisteria", hold that religion is in a separate realm from science and addresses different questions, and never the twain shall meet. Other scientists hold that God's existence is a … [Read more...]

A Call for Truth in Advertising Laws

I was in New York City the other week, near Penn Station, when I was accosted by a well-dressed man in a business suit attempting to hand out fliers to passers-by. I did not take one, but inside the train station, I noticed one cast aside and lying on the ground. Out of curiosity, this time I picked it up and read it. It turned out to be promoting a revival meeting to be held in Madison Square Garden that weekend by the Korean evangelist Jaerock Lee, sponsored by a host of local churches. Below … [Read more...]

No Miracles

The previous essays in this series have explored various ways in which human beings appeal to the supernatural to solve our problems. We seek out oracles to tell us the truth without doing the hard work of seeking it out through study and experiment; we dream up heavens to provide us with a perfect world to live in without the sweat and toil of creating it ourselves; we invent commandments to show us morality without the intellectual labor and uncertainty of reasoning it out; we look to the … [Read more...]

The Power of Christ Compels You

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 do not 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 2006 20:23:12 -0400 Subject: Want To Prove that You are a Real Atheist? TAKE THIS TEST!!!!!!!Want to prove that you are a real … [Read more...]

Physician, Heal Thyself

I mentioned in an earlier post that I recently came across Freethought Radio, the Freedom from Religion Foundation's new weekly radio show, which I highly recommend.The very first episode, which I was listening to the other day, made me aware of a shocking violation of the separation of church and state. This latest outrage, not surprisingly, arises from George W. Bush's constitutionally repugnant "faith-based initiatives" plan, a political euphemism for forced taxation in support of … [Read more...]


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