Human solutions for human problems

Prayer, at best, can be an effective placebo. It helps believers feel they are doing something positive, and prayers might even “cure” some psychosomatic disorders. Now let’s look at the prayers of politicians. Several presidential candidates asked God whether they should run, and God said “yes.” Funny how God’s plan always seems to be the same as that of the politician who asks for guidance. God even told Tim Scott, my congressman, that he should oppose the Boehner Bill to raise the debt ceilin … [Read more...]

The Day of Prayin’ and Eatin’

Our Governor Goodhair held his fundamentalist pep rally in Houston Saturday. Though only 8000 had registered for the event about 30,000 attended as megachurches—like John Hagee’s in San Antonio—bused in the faithful. Except for a few mentions of abortion, the speakers kept it strictly apolitical, scrupulously avoiding the wedge issues that have inflamed the culture wars. Good to know the event had nothing to do with politics. It wasn’t an even with a likely presidential candidate currying favor w … [Read more...]

In Defense of the Prayerapalloza

Since I believe in fair and balanced blogging (ahem), and since I have been very critical of Texas Governor Rick Perry's fundamentalist pep rally to be held at Houston's Reliant Stadium tomorrow, I am reprinting here a letter to the editor of The Houston Chronicle defending the event:Satan deceivesI was totally disgusted by the article "Perry day at Reliant: Piety and politics?" (Page A1, Sunday). The article criticized Gov. Rick Perry for calling a prayer meeting for our nation that will be … [Read more...]

The Meaning of ‘miracle’ – Part 2

Let's start with Swinburne's description of Aquinas' concept of a 'miracle':Aquinas wrote that a 'miracle' in a wide sense is any event brought about by a rational agent in virtue of powers greater than normal human powers; and so many events brought about by demons or angels would count as miracles. But in a strict sense, he claims, a miracle is that which occurs outside the whole system of created nature; it is that which no other agent except God has the power to bring about. See Summa … [Read more...]

Militant atheism, militant Christianity

In South Carolina, where I live, the Confederate flag is prominently displayed on the grounds of the State Capitol. Many of us want it moved to a museum that contains artifacts of the Civil War (also referred to as “The War of Northern Aggression”). That’s why I’m somewhat conflicted about whether the cross-shaped steel beam found in the rubble of 9/11 should be placed in a museum that memorializes the event. The courts might have to decide whether this cross would be in a museum simply to commem … [Read more...]

The Meaning of ‘miracle’ – Part 1

I just finished reading Richard Swinburne's chapter "Arguments from History and Miracles", Chapter 12 in The Existence of God (2nd ed., 2004), about the same time Taner Edis did his post "Natural miracles?" (http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/2011/07/natural-miracles.html).So, this seems like a good time to revisit the topic of 'miracles'.Back in 2008, I did a series of posts on the definition of 'miracle' proposed by Richard … [Read more...]

Theocratic Doin’s A-Transpirin’

The Houston Chronicle (7/31) has an interesting report by writer Joe Holley on Texas Governor Rick Perry’s upcoming “Day of Prayer and Fasting,” officially called “The Response,” scheduled for August 6. Now I’m a bit skeptical about the “fasting” part of this. Take a look at any crowd of Texans, and you can tell that they are not really into the fasting thing. In Texas, “Caution: Wide Load” signs have to be worn by pedestrians. “A Day of Prayer and Bar-B-Q” will probably be more like it. But I’m … [Read more...]

Ramadan

I'm visiting Turkey right now, and two days of my stay will overlap with Ramadan, starting tomorrow.It's a country where it's very hard to get away from religion in the best of times. (Plus everyone always assumes everyone else is Muslim.) Now, on the eve of Ramadan, it's all Islam all the time. I've already had enough. At least I'm in a big city, so I expect I'll still be able to get some food and drink during the daytime in areas tourists are likely to hang around in. … [Read more...]


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