How to Have a Friendly (and Effective) Religious Debate

This is a guest post written by David G. McAfee.

You know what they say: Never discuss religion or politics… that is, of course, unless you want to engage in discussion about some of the most important topics of this or any generation.

Studying religions has always been a passion of mine. From a very young age, I remember being intrigued by what my friends and family believed — and why. But, in my culture and many others, to discuss the topic in any substantive way was considered taboo. Now, as a religious studies graduate and the author of secular-themed works, I’ve had to get used to dealing with religious debates in a calm, rational, and friendly manner. As a result, I’ve learned that, contrary to popular opinion, you can reach some believers through rational dialogue. Indoctrination is difficult to undo, but not impossible. It’s a lesson that Bill Nye may want to take to heart as he gears up for his upcoming debate against Creationist Ken Ham.

Here are some tips on how to have a friendly and effective religious debate:

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Et Tu, Guardian? Normally Reasonable Paper Embarrasses Itself With Fawning Piece About Popular Astrologer

How’s this for an astrological prediction:

“You may have already heard the rumors — October is not due to be an easy month in any which way. … The new moon may trigger contract negotiations, but talks are likely to hit snags.”

That was Susan Miller‘s reading for President Barack Obama a few months ago. Actually, it was her reading for Leos in general. Miller is apparently a famous astrologer. Aaron Hicklin, writing for the Guardian, is impressed by how “uncanny” her talent is. When he first meets her,

… Miller is riding high after forecasting a diabolical month.

How so? Hicklin figures that the malarkey above is actually an on-the-nose reference to the government shutdown over the budget. It doesn’t seem to occur to him that being the president of a superpower means you never have “an easy month,” and that “negotiations” hitting “snags” are part of Washington’s daily grind.

Miller has nevertheless parlayed such preposterous triumphs into a neat little empire.

Today millions of people look to Miller to tell them who they are, and where they are going — 6.5 million online every month, and rising.

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New Arizona Law Will Provide Protection to Christians Who Want to Discriminate Against Gays and Lesbians

If you’re an LGBT individual who lives in Arizona, the anti-discrimination laws are not on your side.

You have legal recourse if a Christian boss fired you for being a Muslim, but if a Christian baker doesn’t want to make a cake for your same-sex commitment ceremony, you’re out of luck. If you and your same-sex partner want to get a hotel room, a Christian manager could say no and that could be the end of it.

A new bill currently being discussed in the state’s Senate, SB 1062, is about to change that, giving special protection to… Christians. And all religious people. Because they’re the real victims here:

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If the Catholic Church Had a Subtitle, This Would Be It

Courtesy of The Chronicle Herald cartoonist Bruce MacKinnon:

(Thanks to Veronica for the link!)

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Eight Examples of How I Agree with Religious Fundamentalists

This is a guest post written by Herb Silverman.

For years I’ve been advocating for “big-tent” atheism, which includes agnostics, humanists, secular humanists, freethinkers, and more. It’s a tent where people can choose activities according to their circumstances and comfort levels, a tent where they can follow their passion while respecting and supporting those with a different emphasis…

My atheist tent is usually not big enough to include religious fundamentalists, but I’ll offer eight examples of such agreement:

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