April 4, 2006

The claim is often bandied about that atheists are “angry”. The implication, presumably, is that life without God offers only a life of constant frustration and unhappiness (and, one imagines, damnation thereafter – wrath being one of the seven deadly sins), whereas belief in God is the road to tranquility and peace. However, if this is the message that apologists intend to convey, they should look to their own flocks before accusing others of the sin of anger. Even casual… Read more

April 3, 2006

What does it mean to make a choice? This question is at the heart of many of the debates over free will, and justifiably so. It may seem simple initially, but the more deeply one considers it, the knottier it becomes. The basic dilemma seems to be this: Every event that occurs either had sufficient cause to occur or it did not. If it did, then it seems choice has no part to play: the event happened because of that… Read more

April 2, 2006

A recurring topic of debate among atheists is just how much respect we should pay to people’s religious beliefs. A substantial number of nonbelievers, I am certain, would unabashedly proclaim that religion is all so much superstitious rubbish, and we should not pay other people’s ridiculous superstitions any respect, regardless of the esteem in which they themselves hold them. The opposite position (more common among liberal theists, probably, than among atheists) is that all religious beliefs should be treated with… Read more

April 1, 2006

Clearly, what is immaterial in the human mind can influence the physical world, or our acts of will and understanding would be without effect. If our will is free these physical effects are not wholly predictable. —http://www.leaderu.com/ftissues/ft9511/revessay.html A merchant in Baghdad sent his servant to the market. The servant returned, trembling and frightened. The servant told the merchant, “I was jostled in the market, turned around, and saw Death.” “Death made a threatening gesture, and I fled in terror. May… Read more

March 31, 2006

The forces of theocracy are on the march, and Daylight Atheism is keeping a close eye on them. First, an article from the March 3 Legal Times, Alabama Judge Declares War on U.S. Supreme Court: Sitting calmly in his impeccably neat office at Alabama’s Justice Building, state Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker does not look like a man at war with the U.S. Supreme Court. …Last month, Parker wrote an op-ed in The Birmingham News, attacking the high court’s “blatant… Read more

March 30, 2006

A new essay, “Into the Clear Air”, has been posted on Ebon Musings. The article details the four common stages of deconversion and offers help and guidance to people in the process of losing their religion. This is an open thread. Comments and feedback are welcome. Read more

March 30, 2006

For most of human history, philosophers have believed that only the possession of an immaterial soul could confer free will on human beings. (There have been exceptions: the ancient Greek Stoics, for example.) This idea has fallen somewhat out of favor, but there are many theists who still hold to it. They are willing to concede that the universe we live in is an interwoven tapestry of cause and effect, but insist that we are special somehow, that we are… Read more

March 29, 2006

Much mention has been made lately of a recent Pew Research Center study showing that two-thirds of American Christians condone the use of torture. When asked whether the use of torture against terrorism suspects was justified to gain important information, about 15% of white Christians in general, and about 20% of white Catholics, said that it was “often” justified. (Other ethnic groups were not polled.) About an additional 50% said that it was “sometimes” or “rarely” justified. By contrast, 41%… Read more

March 28, 2006

Over the ages, the question of whether we have free will has engaged, confronted, and puzzled philosophers probably more than any other issue, and untold numbers of papers, conferences, books and debates have been expended on tackling it. It is no surprise that so much philosophical ink has been spilled on this question, because it is in a sense the question upon which all other questions depend. If there is no free will, and thus no moral responsibility, it seems… Read more

March 26, 2006

In a previous post, I defended the conclusion that atheists should, under certain circumstances, evangelize on behalf of atheism. I recently read a story that bears on this conclusion, thanks to a recent edition of the Grand Rounds medical blog carnival – a beautiful and moving post titled “The rites of passage”, about a badly injured old man admitted to the emergency room who kept himself alive, seemingly by an act of pure will, until a priest could be found… Read more

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