I Get Hate Tweets

While the Secular Outpost strives to promote a professional, respectful atmosphere, it's useful to be reminded that "Real Life" can sometimes be very different.Here's a case in point. A vitriolic, apparently (?) Catholic Twitter user with the handle (@NIGELTEAPOT) recently sent me a stream of 18 tweets before blocking me.Here's the context. Pastor Rick Henderson (author of the Huffington Post editorial I responded to a few days ago) and I were having an exchange:@Rick_says some do oth … [Read more...]

New Fossil Proves Genesis!

A new fossil discovery supports the Genesis account that snakes had legs before God cursed them for enticing Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit:http://conservativetribune.com/fossil-proof-of-bibles-story/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=TPNNPages&utm_content=2015-07-28Call me a nitpicker, but I am still not satisfied!  After all, the serpent that "tempted" Eve was also quite loquacious, and not only loquacious, but, according to Genesis, was the most "subtle," i.e. cunning, of all … [Read more...]

Skeptical Theism and Evil Genius Arguments

When I debated William Lane Craig at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas in 1998, we also had an exchange in the Dallas Morning News on the problem of evil. Here is a key quote from Craig’s statement:“We aren't in a good position to assess with confidence the probability (or improbability) of whether God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting bad things. Suffering that appears utterly pointless within our limited framework may be seen to be justly permitted in God's wider framework. T … [Read more...]

Christianity: The Good Stuff

Naturally, an atheist site like this SO often focuses on the bad stuff about Christianity. Digging up the dirt is easy since, after 2000 years of Christian history, there are tons and tons of it just lying around ready to be shoveled. It is important to remember, however, that for all the holy warriors, fanatics, hypocrites, obscurantists, and sanctimonious little busybodies, Christianity has appealed to some of the noblest spirits that have graced human history (e.g. Pascal, Erasmus, St. … [Read more...]

Is the Religious Right Finished?

This week was a bad week for right-wingers. The Supreme Court (I hate the acronym “SCOTUS.” Sounds like a disreputable body part.) upheld the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) against a challenge that would have removed the federal subsidy for health insurance purchase in non-participating (red) states. Then, just yesterday, came an even crueler blow when the Court struck down state bans on gay marriage. State officials here in Texas were apoplectic or lachrymose, vowing no surrender. Speaking of … [Read more...]

Why not a Fast from Religion?

I notice that Ramadan begins next Thursday. This, of course, is the month that Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. I am not sure that it is good for your health to abstain from water if you are working outside in 110 degree temperatures, as are common in many parts of the Middle East this time of year. Yet the faithful say that it is good for their spiritual health. Other religions also have seasons for fasting and self-denial; the Catholics have Lent, for instance. Many … [Read more...]

Christianity: An Angel with a Dirty Face?

This is a greatly belated review of Paul Johnson’s A History of Christianity (New York: Athenum, 1977), 556 pp. I have had this book in my possession for nearly forty years, but have only read it through recently. As a representative of what we might call “scholarly popular history,” it is virtually unsurpassed, belonging in the same category as Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror, and Richard Rhodes’ The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Such works are written for the entertainment and instruction of no … [Read more...]

The Real Problem with Miracles

Here is a simple representation using Bayes’ Theorem of how a miracle claim would be assessed, where m is the claim that a miracle has occurred, e is the evidence for the claim, and k is background knowledge: p(e/m & k) × p(m/k) p(m/e & k) = -------------------------------- p(e/k) So, the credibility of a miracle claim given certain evidence and background comes down to three factors:(1) p(e/m & k), the likelihood that we would ha … [Read more...]