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...]

Mr. T Tackles the Problem of Evil

It's not only professional philosophers and theologians who have an opinion on matters touching the sacred. Sometimes, gold-jewelry-wearing, mohawk-having, former '80s television and movie action stars have words of wisdom to express on these weighty matters. Like, for instance, Mr. T, who recently gave an interview to Bizarre magazine in which he made a very interesting, and unintentionally revealing, comment.The interviewer asked T if he'd ever seen a UFO, to which he responded:I'm a … [Read more...]

A Dialogue with Quixote, Part IV

Hello Ebon,To approach your larger question, what are the real reasons people believe or disbelieve, I've offered a bulletized list for anyone who's interested in pursuing this question:Some people do not believe in God for a variety of honestly considered reasons. Some people resent the Christian church's involvement in politics, usually the Christian right's involvement in the Republican Party. Atheism provides a natural outlet for this resentment, and becomes an attractive choice on … [Read more...]

A Dialogue with Quixote

Since its inception, Daylight Atheism has been first and foremost a platform for atheist thought. We've had plenty of theist commenters, but never an entire post written by a theist - until now.Some of you may recognize Quixote, who's been a commenter here for some time. There have been many theists commenting on Daylight Atheism whose beliefs I've strongly disagreed with, and (I like to think) many theists whom I've been able to converse with in a spirit of civility and friendship, but I … [Read more...]

A World in Shadow VI

In 2006 and 2007, I wrote several entries in a series called A World in Shadow, bolstering the atheist's argument from evil by describing particularly shocking or egregious instances of natural and moral evils. However, I haven't written any new entries for this series in some time.To be honest, I stopped writing these posts because I found them too upsetting. There are more than enough - far too many - examples of tragedy and catastrophe in this world to make the case against a benevolent … [Read more...]


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