New Chick Tracts

Here's a nice way to start a new year.One thing you have to say about Jack Chick is that he's not political. Quite a few Protestant conservatives have made a political alliance with Catholic right-wingers. But Chick denounces everybody that disagrees with his narrowminded craziness. There's no need to worry about him being entangled in authoritarian religious alliances. … [Read more...]

Faith and hope

Chris Hedges is one of the political writers that I like. (Even though he sometimes goes over the top, and he does too much moralizing.) Here is a short description of his faith, from his book American Fascists, bashing the religious right:God is inscrutable, mysterious and unknowable. We do not understand what life is all about, what it means, why we are here and what will happen to us after our brief sojourn on the planet ends. We are saved, in the end, by faith—faith that life is not … [Read more...]

Morality Without God

In Morality Without God, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong argues against the popular belief that without acknowledgment of God, morality would collapse. He elaborates a form of godless morality centered on avoiding harm, points out that nonbelieving individuals are typically decent people and that secular societies do not collapse into anarchy. He also shows how religious foundations for morality do not work as well as promised. Sinnott-Armstrong wants to do all this in a readable, non-technical style. … [Read more...]

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone.I have to admit, I have a soft spot for Christmas. It's all about childhood associations, naturally. The tree, the presents— growing up in Turkey, it was pleasant American holiday within my family. There was nothing religious about it. Every December, books about Santa, reindeer, and baby Jesus would come out along with the Christmas records. To my brother and I, the Christian elements of the Christmas story were as much fairy tales as Rudolph the red nosed … [Read more...]

December fracas

Every December in the US, we get to read news about conflicts over religious displays in public spaces.Some local governments negotiate the conflict by disallowing all religious displays on public grounds. After all, that just invites lawsuits. But that kind of decision itself can come under fire, particularly if the decision was in response to a nonbelievers' complaint about a government endorsement of religion.There may be a point to religious believers being put off about an empty public … [Read more...]

Fatwas about atheists

Just for fun, excerpts from two conservative Muslim fatwas (scholarly/legal opinions) about atheists.Why an atheist being a good person does not make sense:Whoever denies the Creator or refuses to worship Him, or joins others in worship with Him, deserves the most severe punishment, because for a man to deny his Creator, or refuse to worship Him, or join others in worship with Him, is the most serious of human sins, the most abhorrent of beliefs and the worst deviation. If a person is like this, … [Read more...]

Etiquette

Our School of Science and Math has a tradition of holding a pot luck lunch in one of the larger biology teaching labs every "reading day" in the middle of finals week. It's a decent social event, and all faculty and staff are invited.I used to go most of the time, though after dropping off my food I'd leave and come back fifteen minutes late, to avoid the food line. Last year, however, I stuck around. And a couple of staff members opened the event with a prayer. I got pissed off, and this year I … [Read more...]

Christians against human rights

Muslim countries are notorious for their limited conception of human rights. But conservative Christian Uganda is now about to put in a very Old Testament approach to homosexuality into law, possibly including a death penalty.Humans rights agreements are no barrier.In a interview with the Guardian, James Nsaba Buturo, the minister of state for ethics and integrity, said the government was determined to pass the legislation, ideally before the end of 2009, even if meant withdrawing from … [Read more...]


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