Facing Up to the Bible’s Darkness

Via Slacktivist, I came across an interesting essay by Greg Boyd, Getting Honest about the Dark Side of the Bible. (You might remember Boyd as one of the theologians interviewed in Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ, as well as his more recent and praiseworthy stand against the use of Christianity to support American imperial militarism.)I have to give Boyd credit for doing something I've rarely seen Christians do: facing up squarely to the dark and savage morality of the Bible. In his post, … [Read more...]

No Greater Power

When you arise from the abyssal depths of self-chosen slavery, when you step out from the obscuring shadow of superstition, you begin to see the world as it truly is. And with the clear sight that atheism grants, the next step follows naturally. Once we know what beliefs are false, we have to begin the much harder task of discovering what's true. I'd like to offer a signpost in that quest.As human beings, we find ourselves in a world not of our own making. But although we didn't choose it, … [Read more...]

The Delusion of a Just World

You've probably heard religious apologists assert that if God didn't exist, the world would be an unjust place where some people were never rewarded or punished as their behavior deserved. (They usually hold back from explicitly stating the conclusion, "Therefore, God must exist, because it would make us very sad if he didn't," probably out of subconscious recognition that this would make the fallacy too obvious.) As prominent a religious figure as Pope Benedict has endorsed this … [Read more...]

They Have No Answer

The other day, I came across an essay titled "Staining the Silence" on Vox Nova, a Catholic group blog. The author, Mark Gordon, writes about how his son was deployed to combat in Iraq in 2007, how he feared for his safety as any parent would, and how at first he prayed every day for his son's safe return. But as time went by, he found himself unable to avoid an obvious and unpleasant realization: tens of thousands of parents, despite offering countless prayers of their own, had seen their sons … [Read more...]

From the Mailbag: Shedding the Burden of Suffering

Earlier this week, I got a lengthy letter whose author gave me permission to share it with you:Dear Ebonmusings:I gave a glimpse to your musing about the carrot and the stick - I didn't expect it to talk about morality, mainly because I realized that the latest part of my life as a christian was about pursuing a carrot and a stick.*Allow me to share my story. Sorry if it's a bit depressing, but I can assure you that I'm much better now (and much better than before, since I embraced … [Read more...]

Theodicy Is Useful in Everyday Life

So, I've been debating Catholic commenters on Unequally Yoked again, and I came across a comment that was so astute, so unusually perceptive, that I just had to share it.The war with the Canaanites is really just a specialization of the problem of suffering, right? Why does a good God allow suffering, which is presumably evil.The short answer (from a Catholic perspective) is that we don't know... Nonetheless, it is not the knock-down blow that atheists tend to present it as. It is at least … [Read more...]

Weekly Link Roundup

• President Obama signs a law to fight British libel tourism by barring such judgments from being enforced in the U.S.• My esteemed guest author, Sarah Braasch, has an article in the latest issue of The Humanist on the French burqa ban.• After a scary brush with mortality, everyone's favorite squid-loving atheist professor is back in action. Visit his blog and leave some get-well-soon comments!• Did a Catholic priest carry out an IRA bombing? And if so, did the church … [Read more...]

The Poisoned Cup of Theodicy

The world has seen and heard enough about the misery and destruction in Haiti this past week that I don't think I need to dwell on it. But I do want to take some time to address the perennial question of theodicy, which comes up in the aftermath of every disaster like this.To an atheist, for whom the Haiti quake was nothing more than the result of tectonic plates slipping - a disaster caused by impersonal natural forces and random chance - there is nothing to explain. The laws of the cosmos … [Read more...]

A Dialogue with Quixote, Part VII

Hello Quixote,Considering your last letter to me was some time ago, I apologize for the lateness of my reply. To tell the truth, this was the hardest one for me to write. It's not that I couldn't think of anything to say. Much the opposite: If I had said everything I wanted to say, this post would have been too long! Cutting it down to a reasonable length was more of a struggle than writing it. I've endeavored to edit in a way that does justice to your points and to mine.I also want to say … [Read more...]

A Dialogue with Quixote, Part V

Hello Quixote,In reference to your list of reasons why people become atheists or theists, I have to disagree. I don't think most of those are the initial reasons why people choose one or the other. Many of them are common causes that are frequently taken up by people on one side or the other, or are shared aspects of membership in those communities, it's true. But I don't think people become atheists because they have more fun than theists (although, if true, that might be a reason why people … [Read more...]


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