Everything’s Bigger in Texas, Including the Idiots

We're still dealing with organized ignorance in high places here in Texas. Specifically, as I've mentioned in prior posts, our State Board of Education is stuffed with fundamentalist activists. Their latest effort is to make sure that social studies textbooks emphasize how America was "founded on biblical principles." Below is my letter to the Houston Chronicle published, very slightly edited, in today's (7/20) paper:Dear Editor, What the social conservatives on the State Board … [Read more...]

Liberal converts

It's generally the more conservative, even fundamentalist, versions of religions that strenuously evangelize and seek converts.So, other than bringing up children in the faith, how do more liberal religions reproduce themselves? I imagine there's a good deal of stealing from more conservative movements. For example, a college student can come to think scriptural literalism is unworkable, and drift toward a less rigorous version of her childhood faith. There has to be some amount of conversions … [Read more...]

Homeopathy bashing

Well, here we concentrate the higher class of superstition: religion. We shouldn't neglect the low-class kind like the basic pseudosciences, however. Such as alt-med. This is a very funny satire of homeopathy. … [Read more...]

Falling in love with gurus?

I'm reading a book by a journalist, consisting of interviews with Fethullah Gülen, the Turkish sect leader, together with her fawning commentary on Gülen.It's quite embarrassing really. Gülen speaks in banalities and produces shallow "spiritual" platitudes. He does some hamfisted punditry and generally demonstrates that he has, well, let's say intellectual limitations. His main theme is a kind of combination and reconciliation of Islam and Turkish nationalism. (He does some Arab-bashing.) No … [Read more...]

Are Climate-Change Deniers as bad as Creationists?

This post will probably open a can of worms and take us WAY off topic. It is a letter I wrote to The Houston Chronicle (which they declined to print), noting that the language and tactics of climate-change deniers sounds eerily like that of creationists:Predictably, whenever the Chronicle prints a statement of the fact of human-caused climate change, as it did with the publication of Paul Krugman’s excellent editorial, “This close to betraying planet” on Tuesday, June 30, there is always a backl … [Read more...]

Karen Armstrong rubbished

Vic Stenger will have a new book out soon, called The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason. (He's retired, so he's allowed to crank them out.)One of the things I was not too successful in having Stenger change during the course of writing was a few passages where he relied heavily on Karen Armstrong. As far as I'm concerned, Armstrong produces drivel, full stop. You certainly can't rely on her for history.Apparently Armstrong now has a new book out, The Case for God, in which I'm … [Read more...]

Critics of the New Atheists

There's a possibly interesting academic book coming out, I don't know when, called Religion and the New Atheism: A Critical Appraisal. Since I'm rather ambivalent about the New Atheists, and have some serious misgivings about Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens especially, I contributed a chapter. It's called "The Return of Faith"; if you want to read it and give me your comments, I would appreciate it.I have very little idea who else is going to be in the book. I did, however, stumble upon … [Read more...]

An Argument for Atheism – Part 6

Enough about Jesus. Let's get back to God and Mr. Dawkins.Since Part 5 was posted about eight months ago, I will review some key points from previous installments to get back into the Dawkins groove.In Chapter 2 of The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins gives an argument for atheism. The argument is a chain of reasoning consisting of five inferences. The first inference is a non sequitur, but I have attempted to repair the argument by making explicit an unstated assumption (A), and by clarifying the … [Read more...]