No Religious Exemptions from Child Abuse Laws

Several people have mentioned this tragic story from Wisconsin, in which an 11-year-old girl died of juvenile diabetes after her parents decided to pray for her recovery rather than seek medical help. Shockingly, the town police chief said that "there is no reason to remove" her remaining three siblings from the home. Haven't her parents already demonstrated that they are a clear and present danger to the well-being of their offspring? The district attorney is considering filing charges, but if … [Read more...]

The Good Book?

Recently, an offended Christian left this comment on my satirical post "Footprints":Call me close-minded, but am I the only one who looks at the whole text of Scripture, and not just the parts that deal with eternal damnation?Because, if we're playing a game where we take the Holy Word of God out of context, I can alter His meaning to say just about anything, really.....why does everyone fail to mention all the times that God blessed His people? Why is everyone so quick to point out where … [Read more...]

The Catholic Church: An Immoral Organization

The Roman Catholic church is the oldest and largest Christian denomination on the planet. Although its influence in the Western world is declining, it still exercises great power over the lives of millions of people every day. All too often, that power is used in the service of superstition, of perpetuating irrational and dogmatic beliefs about how human liberty should be restricted in order to please God. Whatever charitable and humanitarian work the Catholic church performs must be balanced … [Read more...]

Heaven at the Price of Hell

In my essay "Those Old Pearly Gates" on Ebon Musings, I raised what is, to my mind, one of the strongest moral arguments against the traditional monotheist conception of the afterlife:The point is this. How can anyone enjoy Heaven, knowing that while you have eternal bliss there are people experiencing eternal suffering? Unless you belong to an insular religious community or a cult, it's almost certain that you know someone - a friend, a relative, a loved one, an idol who inspires you - whose … [Read more...]

The Witch Children of Nigeria

I've written on several past occasions about how belief in malignant supernatural forces causes real harm to real people. There are examples of this from every region of the world, but some of the most wrenching are from Africa, where Biblical beliefs about demons and evil spirits still run rampant.In January, I wrote about the witch camps of Ghana, where people suspected of using black magic to harm their neighbors are exiled as if they were lepers. In April, there were the Pentecostals of … [Read more...]

Flickers of Conscience

One year ago this month, I posted an essay titled "A Seriously Warped Moral Compass". In it, I highlighted the disturbing tendency of religious beliefs to twist and distort a person's conscience to the point where they accept terrible evils as just acts, and, conversely, elevate harmless actions to the height of wickedness and sin.But I do wonder sometimes if even the most thorough and relentless religious brainwashing can ever completely succeed. Are human beings infinitely malleable, so that … [Read more...]

Emptying the Haunted Air

Almost two hundred years ago, the English Romantic poet John Keats wrote a poem, "Lamia", in which he lamented that the advance of scientific understanding would rob the world of its beauty and wonder. Keats' chief villain, though not named in the poem, was Isaac Newton, whose use of the prism to split white light into its component colors was viewed by Keats as akin to desecration:Do not all charms fly At the mere touch of cold philosophy? There was an awful rainbow once in heaven: We know … [Read more...]

On God’s Goodness

It has often been pointed out, by myself and by other atheists, that the traditional monotheistic religions depict God as acting in shockingly violent and cruel ways on numerous occasions. Despite the texts that say this, every week millions of believers attend church where they pray prayers and sing hymns that praise God's infinite love, benevolence, and goodness. Yet when atheists point out that religious texts and tradition attribute actions to God that seem anything but good, these same … [Read more...]

Armor of God

"Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil... Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith..."—Ephesians 6:11-16Among the fundamentalist Christian set, it's a common tenet that faith in Jesus offers the believer some sort of literal supernatural protection against those who … [Read more...]

The Pretense of Superiority

Religion has always been used to sanctify inequality here on Earth, in the present no less than in the past. By teaching their followers that they are God's chosen rulers, religious authorities can accustom the flock to obedience and ascend to positions of power without the consent of the majority. The fundamentally oligarchic and anti-democratic nature of most established religions, in which the church leaders choose their own successors, testifies to this.These anti-democratic beliefs are … [Read more...]