The Financial Ignorance of Religious Texts

Among the many other prohibitions in the Old Testament, there are several verses that prohibit charging interest on loans (at least to one's fellow Israelites - foreigners are apparently OK to gouge). Some of them are:"You shall not lend upon interest to your brother, interest on money, interest on victuals, interest on anything that is lent for interest. To a foreigner you may lend upon interest, but to your brother you shall not lend upon interest..."—Deuteronomy 23:19-20"And if … [Read more...]

Yes, Virginia, The Bible Does Teach Hell

Slacktivist, my favorite progressive Christian blog, has been reporting on how the religious right has been in a tizzy over the news that prominent evangelical pastor Rob Bell may no longer believe in eternal damnation. (I know, I know - he doesn't believe that God will torture billions of people in a lake of fire for all eternity? Horrors!)This is a view Slacktivist himself holds, and to defend Bell, he quotes three passages commonly used to support belief in Hell, Luke 16:19-31 (the parable … [Read more...]

Book Review: Trusting Doubt

(Author's Note: The following review was solicited and is written in accordance with this site's policy for such reviews.)Summary: An outstanding analysis of the flaws of evangelical Christianity, written from an insider's perspective by a former believer. My only complaint is that I wish she'd provided more information about what the next step is!Although there are lots of atheist books that present a compelling case for atheism or against religion, there are relatively few that I'd … [Read more...]

The Language of God: Intellectual Dishonesty

The Language of God, Chapter 6By B.J. MarshallCollins begins Part III of his book, entitled "Faith in Science, Faith in God," by trying to wrap his mind around why evolution is so difficult for some religious people to get. He recalls an experience where he was at a men's dinner at a Protestant church discussing how faith and science can mesh. All was well until the senior pastor was asked whether he believed in the literal story of Genesis. The priest carefully chose his words to give a … [Read more...]

Weekend Leftovers: November 26

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and if your family is like mine, you've got leftovers enough for days. And speaking of leftovers, here are some links that I didn't have more time to write about this week, but wanted to share: • At Skepticon last weekend, the Dallas Fellowship of Freethought asked people - both speakers and ordinary convention attendees - what they, as atheists, were thankful for. The result is this excellent video compilation, with more than a few faces you may … [Read more...]

New on Ebon Musings: The Origins of Orthodoxy

Over the past several months, I've been writing a lengthy new essay for Ebon Musings. I've finally put the finishing touches on it, and I'm quite proud of the result: go check out "The Origins of Orthodoxy".This essay covers a topic I've been interested in for a long time: the origins of the Christian New Testament canon. It's the story of which books made it into the Bible - and which ones didn't - and why, and all the historical twists and turns over the first three centuries that resulted … [Read more...]

Book Review: The Heathen’s Guide to World Religions

(Editor's Note: This review was solicited and is written in accordance with this site's policy for such reviews.)Summary: Entertaining but plagued with inaccuracy.William Hopper's The Heathen's Guide to World Religions is intended as a satirical survey of the world's major faiths, written from an atheist perspective with sarcasm, humor and irreverence aplenty. I hadn't heard of the author, but his biography at the back of the book says he's a former Catholic and one-time candidate for the … [Read more...]

A Not-So-Complicated Moral

This week in the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof has a column titled Test Your Savvy on Religion, discussing the American religious knowledge survey which found that atheists were better informed about faith than believers. Kristof has a pop quiz of his own, and I'm guessing that regular readers of this blog will know the answers and see where he's going with this:1. Which holy book stipulates that a girl who does not bleed on her wedding night should be stoned to death? a. Koran b. Old … [Read more...]

Book Review: The Naked Bible

(Editor's Note: This review was solicited and is written in accordance with this site's policy for such reviews.)Summary: Entertainingly irreverent, but with a sharp point under the silliness - though I still haven't figured out why the Bible on the cover is wearing a bra.It's always good to see fellow atheist bloggers breaking into the publishing world, and it's in that vein that I'm pleased to review The Naked Bible by Andrew Bernardin, the blogger behind 360 Degree Skeptic. The lengthy … [Read more...]

The Bible’s Failed Covenant

In the entire Old Testament, there are no verses more significant than the ones in which Yahweh establishes his covenant with the Jewish people. He pledges to make the Israelites his chosen, to show special favor to them above all other nations and races, and to grant them a peaceful and prosperous home in the promised land. Even today, after several millennia, these passages still play a pivotal role in shaping Jewish identity, consciousness, and culture, as well as exerting a major influence … [Read more...]