Atheists Are Moral: Why It Matters

In the aftermath of the recent Virginia Tech shootings, the lowest and most contemptible specimens of religious fundamentalism have been crawling out of the woodwork to blame atheism for this horrible tragedy, without presenting a shred of evidence. I castigated some of these vile fanatics in my previous post, but since then, yet more of them have come to light. A Load of Bright points out another one, a deceitful and arrogant apologist named Steven Grant: The shooter at Virginia Tech was a … [Read more...]

The Bible Is Not a Book of Love

I have been thinking lately about the Christian symbol of the crucifix. It is almost always seen in settings that attempt to create a mood of peace, calm and serenity: on the walls of churches, in the patients' rooms in Catholic-run hospitals, in funeral parlors and cemeteries, to name a few. The ubiquity and familiarity of this icon, I think, often blinds people to what a brutal thing it is. What the cross merely suggests, the crucifix makes explicit. Look at one, or imagine it, and see … [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...]

Footprints

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord. "Thou hast covered with anger, and persecuted us: thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied. Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through." —Lamentations 3:43-44 Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the Lord. "Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be … [Read more...]

Name That God

Think quickly: What was the religion of the person who wrote the following? "Oh God, open all doors for me. Oh God who answers prayers and answers those who ask you, I am asking you for your help. I am asking you for forgiveness. I am asking you to lighten my way. I am asking you to lift the burden I feel. Oh God, you who open all doors, please open all doors to me, open all venues for me, open all avenues for me. God, I trust in you. God, I lay myself in your hands." Or this: without … [Read more...]

Religious Bigotry Caught Red-Handed

November has been quite the month for feeling schadenfreude. Between Kent Hovind's conviction, Ted Haggard's spectacular fall from grace, and the Republicans' crushing loss in the midterm elections, atheists have had much to rejoice over, and our political adversaries much occasion to mourn. And now, there is another encouraging piece of news where the good guys win. According to the Lippard Blog, which came to my attention via Pharyngula, a religious bigot who is a high-school teacher has been … [Read more...]

A Seriously Warped Moral Compass

"So what would you consider immoral?" I asked. It was a crisp, cold night, on the boundary between late fall and early winter, and the tang of frost and woodsmoke hung in the air. An orange gibbous moon was rising through the tangled leafless fingers of the trees into a clear, dark night sky. The air had a biting chill, but my friend and I were not out in it. We were indoors, in the recently built student coffeehouse of Practical Bible College, a warm and well-lit space paneled in rich earth … [Read more...]

Bending the World Around Yourself

In light of all the momentous events currently taking place around the world, this next story might seem somewhat trivial in the grand scheme of things. But it illustrates some important points that are of more general application, and more importantly to me, it concerns my own alma mater, Binghamton University, of which I am a proud alumnus. It seems that a Binghamton sophomore, Aaron Akaberi, recently converted to the Rastafarian religion. As part of his conversion, he decided to adhere to a … [Read more...]

The Roots of Morality IV: The Theistic Rubber Stamp

Despite the advantages of universal utilitarianism, most people in the world today shun secular moral systems and rely on religious beliefs to provide them with the guidelines for morality. In fact, despite the countless evils it has spawned over the ages, many people believe that religion is the only way to obtain an ethical code, and that any other attempt to do so will inevitably disintegrate into chaos. In the last two parts of this series, I hope to have demonstrated that this is not true. … [Read more...]

No Heavens

Since time immemorial, believers in a loving and just god have looked around at the world we live in, filled with toil, strife and suffering, and have pondered how to reconcile their belief with the facts at hand. The solution which most religions have adopted is to assert the existence of another world, beyond this one, to which the souls of the good will fly in order to receive their due reward. Poets and dreamers throughout history have filled their scriptures with rapturous visions of this … [Read more...]


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