Agnosticism & Atheism Sitemap - Page 1 2016-09-26

How Biogeography Supports Evolution
Biogeography not only provides significant inferential evidence for evolution and common descent, but it also provides testable predictions. Learn more.

Pantheon in Rome - History and Architecture
Today a Christian church, the Pantheon is the best preserved of all ancient Roman buildings and has been in near-continuous use since its reconstruction.

Reasons Why Atheists Don't Believe in Gods
Atheists are often asked 'why don't you believe in God?' Here are some of the most common reasons why atheists don't believe in any gods.

Leonardo Da Vinci - Humanist, Scientist, Naturalist
Leonardo Da Vinci is thought of first and foremost as an artist but he was also a very important humanist, scientist, and naturalist in the Renaissance.

Origins of the Israelites of the Bible
Who were the Israelites and where did they come from? The Pentateuch and Deuteronomist give explanations, but extra-biblical sources and archaeology produce different conclusions.

How Fossil Evidence Supports Evolution
The fossil record has an important, unique characteristic: it is our only actual glimpse into the past where common descent is proposed to have taken place.

Nietzsche, Nihilism, Nihilists, & Nihilistic Philosophy
Nietzsche wrote a great deal about nihilism, but that was due to his concern about its effects on society and culture, not because he advocated nihilism.

Is Easter a Christian or Pagan Holiday?
Most of what is associated with Easter is pagan in origin; the rest is commercial. Just as American culture secularized Christmas, it's secularizing Easter.

Wahhabism, Extremist Islam - Origins and Doctrines
Understand what Wahhabi Islam teaches, what's so dangerous about it, and why those teachings differ from other branches of Islam.

People & Groups of the New Testament: Profiles of People and Groups in the New Testament of Bible
For many, the New Testament of the Bible is a historically accurate record and a reliable guide to people, places, and events in the past. For most scholars, the Bible records events from the past but through the filters of religious, political, and social agendas - filters thick enough to make it difficult to disentangle fact from fiction. Many people and groups described in the New Testament existed, but not always in the way that the Bible suggests.

Why Is Peter the Apostle (Simon Peter) Important?
Christians are expected to act much like Peter. Also, the gospels describe Jesus as calling Peter his “rock” upon which the future church would be built.

Introduction to Agnosticism: What Is Agnostic Theism?
Agnostic theism is explored, as well as its relation to agnosticism, and how these two views differ in terms of spiritual belief and doubt in god(s).

How To Tell When Arguments Are Valid and/or Sound
An argument might fail on its premises or its inferences. Because of this, it is necessary to distinguish between valid arguments and sound arguments.

The Woman Who Touched Jesus’ Garment (Mark 5:21-34)
There is a woman who has suffered for twelve years with a problem and intends to use Jesus’ powers to become well. Learn more.

Jesus Heals Blind Bartimeus (Mark 10:46-52) - Analysis
The blind man’s faith in Jesus is what allowed him to be healed. Similarly, Israel will be healed so long as they have faith in Jesus and God. Learn more.

Jesus Heals Jairus' Daughter (Mark 5:35-43) Bible Analysis
Once the death of the girl is revealed, people expect Jesus to go on his way thus far he has only healed the sick, not raised the dead. Learn more.

War in the Name of Atheism - Theology Myths
Religion has a lot of blood on its hands. Have atheists killed more people in the name of atheism? No, because atheism isn't a philosophy or ideology.

Logical Arguments, Reasoning, and Critical Thinking
Why bother to learn about logic and arguments? The most immediate and obvious benefit is that it helps you improve the quality of the arguments you use.

Argument & Rhetoric - Premises, Inferences, Conclusions
You need to know what an argument is in order to construct a sound, valid argument or to evaluate another person's argument.

13 Fields of Philosophical Inquiry
Philosophy addresses issues from all facets of life - an expert on all of philosophy would have to be an expert on all of life's most fundamental questions.

Authorship of Mark's Gospel: Who Was Mark?
The text of the Gospel According to Mark does not identify anyone as the author. Not even 'Mark' is listed as the author. Learn more.

Religion vs. Philosophy - Ways of Doing the Same Thing?
There seems to be some confusion at times over just whether and how religion and philosophy should be distinguished from each other. Learn more.

Popes of the 20th Century
A list of all of the popes who reigned during the 20th century with short biographies of each pope and what impact they had on the Roman Catholic Church.

Mictecacihuatl: Goddess of Death in Aztec Religion
Mictecacihuatl was the Aztec goddess of death who lived in Mictlan, the Aztec underworld, with her husband Mictecacihuatl. Learn more.

What Is Materialism? - History and Definition
Materialism is the idea that everything is either made only of matter or is ultimately dependent upon matter for its existence and nature. Learn more.

James the Apostle: Profile & Biography
James was present at the resurrection of Jarius’ daughter, at Jesus’ transfiguration, and at the Garden of Gethsemane before Jesus was arrested. Learn more.

Online Bible Dictionary: Definitions, History, Explanations of Key Concepts in the Bible
There are many concepts which appear frequently in the Bible, but not so frequently elsewhere. Many of these concepts in the Bible are also tied closely to the cultures of hundreds or thousands of years ago. This makes it difficult for people reading the Bible today to fully understand or appreciate what is written. An online Bible dictionary can help define critical terms and concepts.

Religion as Opium of the People (Karl Marx)
Karl Marx wrote that religion is the opium of the people, but few understand what he really meant. Marx was criticizing society more than religion.

Who Was Karl Marx? - Background and Biography
To understand Marx's critiques of religion and economic theories, it is important to understand a little bit about where he came from, his philosophical background, and how he arrived at some of his beliefs about culture and society. Page 2.

Karl Marx's Economic Theories (Religion and Economics)
For Karl Marx, the basic determining factor of human history is economics. According to him, humans - even from their earliest beginnings - are not motivated by grand ideas but instead by material concerns, like the need to eat and survive. This is the basic premise of a materialist view of history. At the beginning, people worked together in unity and it wasn't so bad. Page 3.

Karl Marx's Analysis of Religion: Opium of the People
According to Karl Marx, religion is like other social institutions in that it is dependent upon the material and economic realities in a given society. It has no independent history; instead it is the creature of productive forces. As Marx wrote, ‘The religious world is but the reflex of the real world.‘. Page 4.

Karl Marx, Religion, and Economics: Problems in Karl Marx's Analysis of Religion
As interesting and insightful as Marx's analysis and critiques are, they are not without their problems - historical and economic. Because of these problems, it would not be appropriate to accept Marxs ideas uncritically. Although he certain has some important things to say on the nature of religion, he cant be accepted as the last word on the subject. Page 5.

Curses and Cursing: What is a Curse?
Whereas a blessing is a pronouncement of good fortune, a curse is a pronouncement of ill fortune because one opposes God's plans. Learn more.

Defining the Characteristics of Religion
Identifying basic characteristics common to religions, which taken together make religion distinct from other belief systems.

History of Pragmatism and Pragmatic Philosophy
According to Pragmatism, the truth or meaning of an idea or a proposition lies in its observable practical consequences rather than anything metaphysical.

Agnostic Atheist - Dictionary Definition
This definition makes it clear that being agnostic and being an atheist are not mutually exclusive.

Atheism vs Agnosticism - What's the Difference?
The difference between being an atheist and being an agnostic should be pretty clear. Learn more about the differences and similarities.

Deductive & Inductive Arguments: What's the Difference?
Arguments can be deductive or inductive and you need to know the difference in order to properly create or evaluate an argument. Learn more.

Correspondence Theory of Truth - Agnosticism / Atheism
The Correspondence Theory of Truth is probably the most common and widespread way of understanding the nature of truth and falsehood - not simply among philosophers, but even more importantly in the general population as well. Put quite simply, the Correspondence Theory argues that truth is whatever corresponds to reality. An idea which corresponds with reality is true while an idea which does not correspond with reality is false.

Masons and the New World Order
One of the most popular targets for conspiracy theories has long been Masonic Lodges and their administrative organizations. Learn about the conspiracy theory regarding Masons and the New World Order.

Definition: Hypothetical Proposition
What is the definition of a hypothetical proposition? A hypothetical proposition is a conditional statement which takes the form: if P then Q.

Definition: Analogous / Homologous Structures
The difference between analogous and homologous structures provides an interesting way for atheists (and theists who accept evolution) to describe evidence of evolution coming from two directions.

Definition: Contingent vs. Necessary Truths
The distinction between contingent and necessary statements is one of the oldest in philosophy.

Definition: Analytic vs. Synthetic Statements
Analytic and synthetic are distinctions between types of statements which was first described by Immanuel Kant as part of his effort to find some sound basis for human knowledge.

Is Astrology a Pseudoscience?
Many practitioners and followers of astrology are certain that it is scientific. Are they right? When examining astrology for many standards traits of pseudoscience, a different conclusion becomes apparent.

Astrology and Psychology: The Link That Makes People Believe
Belief in astrology has a lot to do with the psychological benefits it provides. Learn about the link between astrology and psychology.

Do Jews, Christians, and Muslims Worship the Same God?
Some Jews, Christians, and Muslims claim that all three religions follow the same god, but in different ways. Others disagree. Are they multiple religions with one god, or multiple religions with multiple gods?

Definition of Religion: How is Religion Defined? What Definitions of Religion are Used?
Religion is difficult to define. Everyone has a different idea of what it is. Most people simply look in the dictionary or use something else equally simplistic. That might be fine for everyday conversations, it isn’t sufficient for the sort of discussions that appear here. Religion is a human creation and as such can vary as widely as human imagination allows.

What Is Monotheism? Belief in a Single, All-Powerful God
What is monotheism? Learn about the belief in the existence of a single god and how it differs from polytheism and atheism.

History of American Religion: Timeline 1600 - 2004
A timeline of the history of American Religion from 1600 - 2004.

Method of Sacrifice in Ancient Greece
Learn about the sacrificial rituals of the ancient Greeks.

About Morality - Offsite Links
About Morality and Ethics, especially for atheists and skeptics.

Philosophy & Philosophers: Philosophy, Logic, History of Reason
It isn't easy to say what exactly philosophy is, how to study it, or how to 'do' it. So why has it long been one of the central subjects in Western academics? It is difficult to categorize philosophy because philosophizing makes up so much of what we do in life - there is no escaping it for anyone who want to think clearly or think about important subjects.

Arguments That War Is Immoral and Unethical
Explanation and critiques of various arguments used against wars; includes arguments used against specific wars and arguments against wars generally. How successful are any of them?

The Link Between Ancient Greek Mythology & Modern Religion
A better understanding of Greek religion helps illuminate the nature of religion in general as well as the nature of religions that continue to be followed today.

How Do Ethics, Morals, and Values Relate?
What is the relationship between our values and the ethics or morals we have? What sorts of things can we value and why?

Ethics and Morality FAQ: Teleology and Ethics
What are teleological ethical systems? What are some problems with judging ethical decisions based upon their consequences?

What Is Behind the Conflict Between Islam and the West?
Why can Islam and the West cannot simply find a way to get along peacefully and without so much violent conflict? Unfortunately, one of the reasons for the conflict is not their differences, but actually their similarities.

How Have Holy Places in Islam Created Violence and Division?
Learn how holy sites and cities like Mecca, Medina, the Dome of the Rock and Hebron have established an illusory

Ottoman Empire on the Offensive, 1300 - 1600
Although the Crusades were long finished, Christian Europe continued to be under pressure from the expanding Ottoman Empire.

A Timeline of the Crusades: Fourth Crusade, 1198 - 1207
Launched in 1202, the Fourth Crusade was in part instigated by Venetian leaders who saw it as a means to increase their power and influence.

A Timeline of the Third Crusade & Aftermath: 1187 - 1197
Launched in 1189, the Third Crusade was called because of the Muslim recapture of Jerusalem in 1187 and the defeat of Palestinian knights at Hattin. It was ultimately unsuccessful.

A Timeline of the Crusades: Second Crusade, 1144 - 1150
Launched in response to the capture of Edessa by Muslims in 1144, the Second Crusade was accepted by European leaders due to St. Bernard of Clairvaux who was determined to reassert Christian domination in the Holy Land.

A Timeline of the First Crusade, 1095 - 1100 : Christianity vs. Islam
A timeline of the First Crusade, 1095 - 1100 : Christianity vs. Islam. Launched by Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont in 1095, the First Crusade was the most successful.

A Time of the Crusade: 350 - 1095
Understand the lead up to the crusades with this timeline of Christianity vs. Islam, 350 - 1095.

One Nation, Under God: America is a Christian Nation, You Aren't a Real American if you Don't Believe in God
A basic belief for the Christian Right is that America is a 'Christian Nation.' This belief is one of the most important foundations of every other position they advocate. This poster is based upon a World War II poster stating that 'Teaching is War-Work, Too.' I have repalced the original text with advocacy of the concept that America is a nation 'Under God' and that you can't be a real American unless you believe in God.

One Nation, Under God: America is a Christian Nation, You Aren't a Real American if you Don't Believe in God
A basic belief for the Christian Right is that America is a 'Christian Nation.' This belief is one of the most important foundations of every other position they advocate. This poster is based upon a World War II poster stating that 'Teaching is War-Work, Too.' I have repalced the original text with advocacy of the concept that America is a nation 'Under God' and that you can't be a real American unless you believe in God.

Manly Christian Combat Against Islamofascism: Christians Using War as a Sign of Virility, Manliness, Heterosexuality
The links between a willingness to fight in war and to violently confront one's enemies with disdain of women and homosexuality should not be underestimated. War is a task for 'real men' and women are excluded from combat roles while homosexuals are excluded from the military entirely. Today efforts to insist that America's fight against 'Islamofascism' is a test of Christianity and of America's masculine resolve almost cries out for ridicule and satire.

America, a Christian Nation of Torture: Why do Christians Allow Torture and War to be Conducted in Their Name?
It's disturbing enough to ponder the extent to which the American government has authorized and defended practices, like torture and secret prisons. Even worse is the extent to which self-proclaimed defenders of traditional Christian morality have been willing to openly support or at least turn a blind eye to these practices. People who cry out that America is a Christian Nation are spending little if any time crying out that torture and secret prisons are incompatible with Christian morality.

Leonardo Da Vinci: Image of a Statue of Leonardo Da Vinci, Outside the Uffizi, Florence
Leonardo's surname, if he had one, is unknown -- many people believe that it's 'Da Vinci,' but this is simply a reference to where he was born. Because of this, the title of Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code is treated as a gross error by historians who recognize it as really meaning The from Vinci Code, which makes no sense whatsoever.

Leonardo Da Vinci: Image of Drawing of Christ Carrying the Cross, by Leonardo Da Vinci
Born in the village of Vinci in Tuscany, Italy, on April 15, 1452, Leonardo was one of the most important artistic figures of the Renaissance. He was involved with painting, architecture, sculpture, engineering, anatomy, and more. An illegitimate child, his artistic talents were recognized early on and he was sent to study under a master goldsmith. Today he is regarded as one of the greatest painters who ever lived, though many of his final works haven't survived.

Readers' Choice Awards for Agnosticism / Atheism
The About.com Readers’ Choice Awards will showcase some of the best products, features, and services in multiple categories, from technology to hobbies to parenting. On the Agnosticism / Atheism site, the Readers' Choice Awards are designed to showcase the best resources available out there for agnostics, atheists, freethinkers, secularists, and skeptics.

Thomas Paine Quotes Reveal His Thoughts on Religion
The quotes of Thomas Paine reveal him not only to be a political revolutionary but also a man who advocated for free thought over religion.

These Quotes Reveal What James Madison Believed About Religion
James Madison wasn't only the fourth U.S. president, but also a staunch defender of religious liberty, which both his quotes and actions reveal.

Religious vs. Non-Religious Belief Systems
There are many beliefs and belief systems that are not religions, but which are very similar to religions. Understanding their connections is important.

Self Portrait of Leonardo Da Vinci: Who Was Leonardo Da Vinci? Leonardo Da Vinci: Renaissance Humanist, Artist
Leonardo Da Vinci, born in the village of Vinci in Tuscany, Italy, on April 15, 1452, was one of the most important artistic figures of the Renaissance. While people may realize that he as an important artist, though, they don't generally realize how important he was as an early skeptic, naturalist, materialist, and scientist. There is no evidence that he was an atheist, but he is a role model in how to approach both scientific and artistic problems from a naturalistic, skeptical perspective.

Vitruvius, the Virtuvian Man, by Leonardo Da Vinci: Leonardo Da Vinci & Science, Observation, Empiricism, and Mathematics
Born in the village of Vinci in Tuscany, Italy, on April 15, 1452, Leonardo was one of the most important artistic figures of the Renaissance. He was involved with painting, architecture, sculpture, engineering, anatomy, and more. An illegitimate child, his artistic talents were recognized early on and he was sent to study under a master goldsmith. Today he is regarded as one of the greatest painters who ever lived, though many of his final works haven't survived. Page 2.

Leonardo Da Vinci: Detail of the Apostle John from the Last Supper, painting by Leondardo Da Vinci in 1498
Some people believe that John the Apostle, seated immediately to Jesus' right, isn't really John at all - instead, the figure here is really Mary Magdalene. According to Dan Brown's work of fiction The Da Vinci Code, secret revelations about the truth of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene are hidden throughout Leonardo's works (hence the 'code') and this is the most important one. Arguments on behalf of this idea include the claims that John has very effeminate features and swoons like a woman. Page 7.

Leonardo Da Vinci: Full Image Last Supper, painting by Leonardo Da Vinci, 1498
The Lord's Supper, which was the final meal of Jesus with his disciples and the time when he is recorded as having instituted the communion celebration, has been the subject of innumerable artistic interpretations. Perhaps the most famous is the painting Last Supper, created by Leonardo Da Vinci in 1498 for Duke Lodovico Sforza and painted in the Dominican church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, the duke's family chapel and burial place. Page 3.

Leonardo Da Vinci: Last Supper, painting by Leonardo Da Vinci, 1498, Detail from the Middle
One interesting claim made by Dan Brown and followers of his ideas is that there is no cup in Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper. They use this as evidence for the idea that the 'real' Holy Gail wasn't a cup at all, but Mary Magdalene who was married to Jesus and the mother of his child whose descendants were, among others, the Merovingian Dynasty. This terrible

Leonardo Da Vinci: Last Supper, painting by Leonardo Da Vinci, 1498, Detail from the Right
As our eyes move across the painting, shifting from one apostle's reaction to the next, one thing which may become evident is how human the depiction of each figure is. There are no halos or any other marker of holiness - not even any symbols of divinity around Jesus. Every person is a human being, reacting in a human way. It is thus the human aspect of the moment which Leonardo Da Vinci was trying to capture and express, not the sacred or divine aspects usually focused on in Christian liturgy. Page 6.

Leonardo Da Vinci: Last Supper, painting by Leonardo Da Vinci, 1498, Detail from the Left
The source used by Leonardo Da Vinci is John 13:21 and is supposed to represent the exact moment when Jesus announces to his disciples that one of them would betray him: 'When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.' Thus the reactions of all the disciples are the reactions to hearing that one of them is a traitor to Jesus who would cause the death of their teacher. Each reacts in a different way. Page 4.

Religion vs Spirituality - What's the Difference?
Is such a distinction valid? It is important to keep in mind that it presumes to describe two fundamentally different types of things.

The Problem of Defining Religion, Mythology and Philosophy
Defining what religion is and what is not isn't easy and has long been debated, but it is possible to construct a useful, strong definition of religion.

Explaining the Existence of Religion, Religious Beliefs
There have been as many theories as theorists and all offer important insights on the nature of religion and possible reasons why religion has persisted through human history.

Image Gallery: Leonardo Da Vinci, Dan Brown's The Da Vinici Code, Christian History
The popularity of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code book is enormous; unfortunately, its errors and deceptiveness are equally enormous. Some defend it by saying that it's a work of fiction, which is true, but the book itself insists that the fiction is based around historical facts. Almost nothing in the book is factual, however, and the presentation of falsehoods as facts misleads readers. People think that, in the guise of fiction, they are being let in on secrets long covered up.

Jesus' Instructions on Discipleship (Mark 8:34-38)
After Jesus' first prediction of his passion, he describes the sort of life he expects his followers to lead in his absence - although at this point he is speaking to many more people than his twelve disciples, so it is unlikely that most of the listeners could be aware of what he means by the phrase 'come after me.'

Jesus Heals an Unclean Spirit (Mark 9:14-29) - Analysis
In this interesting scene, Jesus manages to arrive just in the nick of time to save the day. Apparently while he was on the mountaintop with the apostles Peter, and James, and John, other disciples of his remained behind to deal with the crowds come to see Jesus and benefit from his abilities. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like they were doing a good job.

Jesus on Intellectual Values vs. Faith (Mark 9:14-29) - Analysis and Commentary
In the story about Jesus healing a boy suffering from an 'unclean spirit,' we see what appears to be Jesus rejecting debate, questioning, and intellectual disputation. According to the Oxford Annotated Bible, Jesus' statement that potent faith comes from 'prayer and fasting' is to be contrasted with the argumentative attitude on display in verse 14. This places religious behavior like prayer and fasting well above intellectual behavior like philosophizing and debating. Page 2.

Temptations to Sin, Warnings of Hell (Mark 9:42-50) - Analysis and Commentary
We find here a series of warnings of what awaits those foolish enough to give in to temptations to sin. Scholars have argued that all of these sayings were actually stated at different times and in different contexts where they would have made sense. Here, however, we have them all drawn together on the basis of thematic similarity.

Jesus on Cutting Off Temptations (Mark 9:42-50) - Analysis and Commentary
One common interpretation of this passage of Mark is that Christians must keep themselves separate from evil and sin in order to remain near to God in themselves. If this requires denying or removing some aspect of themselves, then that is a price they must be willing to pay because it would be better to go to heaven without that part of themselves than to remain whole but also in the fires of hell. Page 2.

God or god? To capitalize or not to Capitalize
Should 'god be capitalized or not? Many atheists use a lowercase 'g' while Jews, Christians, and Muslims, always capitalize the G. Who is right?

Apostles of Jesus: Profile of the Apostles of Jesus, New Testament Figures Who Followed Jesus
Apostle is an English transliteration of the Greek apostolos, which means 'one who is sent out.' In ancient Greek, an apostle might be any person 'sent out' to deliver news - messengers and envoys, for example and perhaps carry out other instructions. Via the New Testament, however, apostle has acquired a more specific usage and now refers to one of the elect disciples of Jesus. Apostolic lists in the New Testament all have 12 names, but not all the same names.

Gospel of Mark: Bible Study, Introduction, Analysis, Commentary, Background, History
The shortest of the 4 canonical gospels, most Bible scholars see Mark as the oldest and a primary source for much of the material in Luke and Matthew. For a long time Christians tended to ignore Mark in favor of the longer, more detailed gospel texts of Matthew and Luke. After it was identified as the oldest and perhaps most historically accurate of the Bible's gospels, Mark has gained in popularity.

Jesus Calls the Twelve Apostles Analysis and Commentary
Mark 3:13-19: At this point Jesus officially gathers together his apostles, at least according to the biblical texts. Stories indicate that many people followed Jesus around, but these are the only ones whom Jesus is recorded as specifically designating as being special. The fact that he picks twelve, rather than ten or fifteen, is a reference to the twelve tribes of Israel.

Jesus & the Parable of the Seeds: Analysis of Mark 4:13-20
Finally, Jesus explains to his inner circle of twelve apostles what the parable of the seeds means. This 'true' meaning is supposed to remain hidden from everyone else, but the reason for this is not explained. Readers should wonder about this because there is nothing obvious about why the true meaning should be limited to just a few - especially in light of the fact that, when all is said and done, this isn't an earth-shattering message.

The Gospel According to Mark, Chapter 4 - Analysis
Jesus use of parables expands greatly in this chapter. In fact, Jesus even explains why he uses parables so much: parables are difficult to understand and by using parables, he can ensure that not too many people will understand what he is talking about. Why would he want to keep his intentions and teachings secret, though?

The Gospel According to Mark, Chapter 5
In chapter 5 of Mark's gospel, Jesus continues to demonstrate his powers: he exorcises a 'legion' of demons, he heals a woman who merely touches his cloak, and he even raises a girl from the dead. Throughout this chapter the examples of Jesus' powers increase in drama and strength.

Analysis and Commentary on Mark 5:1-9
When we last left Jesus, he displayed his power and authority over nature by calming a storm that came over the Sea of Galilee. He has also, in numerous instances, exercised power and authority over people by healing their illnesses and forgiving their sins. Now Jesus returns to a theme not seen since chapter 1: casting out unclean spirits in an exorcism.

Jesus on the Great Commandment (Mark 12:28-34) Analysis
Throughout Jesus' time in Jerusalem thus far, his experiences have been characterized by conflict: he is challenged or questioned in a hostile manner by Temple authorities and he responds harshly. Now, however, we have a situation where Jesus is questioned in a far more neutral manner. The contrast between the earlier incidents and this one makes the relatively neutral question appear almost sympathetic.

Christianity vs. Judaism: Jesus' Great Commandment (Mark 12:28-34) - Analysis and Commentary
The scribe's response to Jesus' answer about the Greatest Commandment reinforces the impression that the original question was not meant to be hostile or a trap, as was the case with previous encounters. It also lays the groundwork for further conflicts between Jews and Christians. Page 2.

Destruction of the Temple (Mark 13: 1-4) Analysis
Jesus' prediction of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem is one of the most important features in Mark's gospel. Scholars have been sharply divided on how to deal with it: was it a genuine prediction, demonstrating Jesus' power, or is it evidence that Mark was written after the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE?

Jesus Explains the Signs of the End Times: Tribulations & False Messiahs (Mark 13:14-23) - Analysis and Commentary
Up until this point, Jesus has been advising caution to the four disciples -- and by extension, that's what Mark has been advising to his own audience. As bad as things may seem to be, don't panic because it's all necessary and not an indication that the End is close. Now, however, a sign that the End is about to arrive is given and people are advised to panic.

Ethics and Morality of Abortion as Contraception
The legality of abortion is debated more than the morality of abortion, so fundamental ethical questions aren't given the attention they deserve. Some believe that the law shouldn't legislate morality, but all good law is based upon moral values. A failure to openly discuss those values can obscure important discussions.

Modern Christians vs Jesus' Apostles (Mark 6:7-13) - Analysis and Commentary
The instructions Jesus gives to his apostles are important, at the very least because it is so rare for Christians today to actually heed them on a personal level. It seems likely that Jesus didn't want his apostles to be distracted by worldly pleasures or material goods. Thus, they weren't supposed to have much, they weren't supposed have anything that made them comfortable, and they were supposed to dedicate themselves solely to spreading Jesus' message. Page 2.

Jesus Gives the Apostles Their Assignments (Mark 6:7-13) - Analysis and Commentary
Thus far, Jesus' twelve apostles have been following him from place to place, witnessing the miracles he performed and learning about his teachings. This included not only the teachings he has made openly to the crowds, but also secret teachings delivered only to them as we saw in chapter 4 of Mark. Now, however, Jesus is telling them that they will have to go out to teach on their own and work their own miracles.

Ometeotl, God of Duality in Aztec Religion
Ometeotl was the Aztec god of duality and souls and represented for Aztecs the idea that the entire universe was composed of polar opposites.

Atheism and Agnosticism from About.com
Read articles and news on atheism and agnosticism to understand the philosophies, skepticism, and critical thinking of the free-thinking community.

What George Carlin Believed About Religion
Learn why George Carlin rejected religion for atheism with these quotes about his views on God. His family was Catholic, but he chose otherwise.

Top Carl Sagan Quotes on Religion
Celebrity scientist Carl Sagan was born a Jew, but his quotes reveal he didn't believe in God. Learn about Sagan's atheism in his own words.

Investiture Conflict and Controversy
The Investiture Conflict involved medieval secular rulers expanding their power by making church officials dependent on them for lands and offices.

Branches of Philosophy: Profiles of Different Fields, Specialities, and Branches of Philosophy
Philosophy is broken down into several specialties, but this doesn’t mean that each branch of philosophy is autonomous. There is often much overlap between some fields: for example, political and legal philosophy often cross with ethics and morality, while metaphysical questions are common in the philosophy of religion. Sometimes deciding which branch of philosophy a question properly belongs in isn’t clear, but understanding the differences between the branches is important.

America as a Christian Nation, America as a White Nation: Racism & White Supremacy in American Christianity
Conservative, evangelical Christianity in America is not inherently or necessarily racist. However, there has been significant convergence between racism, White Supremacy, and conservative Christianity throughout American history. Not only have conservative evangelical Christians been leading defenders of slavery, racism, and segregation, but there are aspects of evangelical doctrine which encourage the continuation of racist outcomes. Page 27.

This Flag is Our Flag: Christian Nationalists Assuming Control & Authority over Meaning of the American Flag
One area where Christian Nationalists have attempted to exercise more subtle control over American culture is through the American flag. Efforts to ban flag burning have a lot in common with efforts to ban gay marriage as well as a host of other hot-button conservative issues. The issue is not the issue: it's not about burning or protecting flags and it's not about protecting the sanctity of marriage. It's about retaining control over cultural symbols upon which people base their identities. Page 12.

Beware of Skepticism, Atheism, Secularism: Faith is So Important that Skepticism, Questioning, Doubt are Intolerable
Faith is a critical pillar in the religious ideology of Christian Nationalists. This image was taken from a World War II poster warning members of the armed forces about women who look 'clean' but might be carrying sexually transmitted diseases. I chose this to convey the idea of warning Christians to be careful about whom they date because of the irony: a number of Christians groups encourage members to date outsider for no reason other than to gain new recruits and 'save' their souls. Page 13.

Boy Scouts Must Be Prepared to Fight Godless Atheism: Bigotry & Discrimination are Needed for Christian Society
Although the Boy Scouts' discrimination against gays appears to be most widely known, they discriminate against atheists on basically the same basis. According to the Boy Scouts, atheists cannot be morally straight or the best kinds of citizens; therefore, they have no place in the organization either as scouts or as adult leaders. People who admit to being atheists are kicked out regardless of their past accomplishments. Page 37.

Don't Worry, Be Happy: Environmental Problems Either Don't Exist or are a Sign of the Apocalypse, Jesus' Second Coming
Christian Nationalists oppose environmental legislation for several reasons, most of which are religious. In the first place, many sincerely believe that because the Bible says God will provide, then this means that there are sufficient natural resources for everyone on the planet. They don't believe that there is any real crisis, so there is no reason to conserve or recycle because we won't run out. A second and perhaps larger reason is the popular belief that the End Times are close. Page 22.

Christian Fascism in America: If Fascism Comes to America, It Will Come Wrapped in the Flag & Carrying the Cross
This image is taken from a World War II poster of an American prisoner of war saying 'Don't Let Me Down' and 'You are still free to work.' Americans are free to work, but how free are they to enjoy the rest of the liberties which Americans fought and died to protect in World War II? Overt repression in America hasn't started, but once a people unjustly puts others in shackles, they put on their own shackles as well. Fascism, and Christian Fascism, may be closer than you think. Page 5.

Christians Standing Up to the Demofascists: Democrats Seek a Liberal Fascism in America & Christian Men Must Stand Firm
Is there anything genuinely fascist about the political platform of the Democratic party or the attitudes of liberals in America? Fascism can be difficult to define, but there are common characteristics which have been identified and which scholars tend to focus on. None of them apply to the Democratic party specifically or liberals generally. Demofascist is thus as much of a misnomer as Islamofascist, but why is it being used? Page 16.

Encouraging Christian Violence: Cleansing the Community of Infection via Redemptive Violence
An important component of fascism, and one which hasn't entirely developed in America even among movements which tend to appear very fascist in their approach, is the idea that violence is a redemptive act which allows a chosen few to transform society - usually through the elimination of certain minorities. This hasn't really appeared in full force in America, but that's not to say that some haven't tried. Page 11.

Conservative Christian Schools: Training Christian Students to Take Dominion Over America
This image was taken from a World War II poster which said 'This is America... ...where every boy can dream of being President. Where free schools, free opportunity, free enterprise, have built the most decent nation on earth. A nation built upon the rights of all men.' This sentiment is much the opposite of the Christian Nationalists who don't want to see anyone by Christians hold elected offices, who want to see an end to free public schools... Page 29.

Criticism of Religions is Not Free Speech: Don't Abuse your Free Speech Rights by Offending Religious Believers
One of the most pernicious forms of attempted censorship of unwelcome views isn't overt repression, but rather to convince people not to express those unwelcome views in the first place. It's always much better to head off the wrong thoughts before they are expressed rather than clamp down on them after they are already out in public. Why employ the blunt instrument of state repression if people can be convinced to repress themselves? Page 34.

Using War to Promote Peace & Democracy: We Bring the Values of Civilization to People by Invading and Bombing Them
Can peace be achieved through war? Of course it can. Every war has been followed by a peace of some sort. It's not that unusual for aggressors to be defeated through war, thus ushering in a new era of peace and freedom - or at least relatively more peace and freedom than before.Perhaps the more relevant question is whether peace can be imposed through war - whether war can be used as an effective means for imposing peace, democracy, justice, etc. Page 40.

Evolution & Darwinism in Schools: Teaching Evolution & Darwinism Encourages Immoral, Bestial Behavior
The above poster was created by the German government during World War I and said 'Elend und Untergang folgen der Anarchie' (Misery and Destruction follow Anarchy). Depicted is an anarchist monster carrying a knife and a gun. The original was an attempt to urge people not to give in to anarchist criticisms of the war of the German government. I have replaced the text with the standard canard about the teaching of evolution or Darwinism leading to immoral, even bestial, behavior. Page 9.

Gay Agenda vs. Civil Liberty: Radical Homosexual Lobby is a Threat to Religious, Civil Liberty in America
This image is based upon a World War II poster describing 'Willful Absenteeism' as striking at our liberty. It's disturbingly similar to the

Beware of Recruitment into the Homosexual Lifestyle: Godless Sodomites Will Subvert Heterosexual Christian Society
A common which the Christian Right tries to make against gays and efforts to increase social acceptance of homosexuality is the idea that gays want to 'recruit' others - especially children - into their 'lifestyle.' People who know gays and understand homosexuality find this position absurd, but it does seem to follow logically from the starting assumptions which the Christian Right has about homosexuality generally. Page 36.

War on Terror vs. Geneva Conventions: We can be Trusted to Abandon the Geneva Conventions in the War on Terrorism
Christians elsewhere in the world, including conservative evangelicals, object to America's invasion of Iraq and as well as America's treatment of detainees. Christian Nationalists, however, don't even try to defend their positions via Christian traditions or doctrines. America's actions in the War on Terror are justified in almost Machiavellian terms in which the survival of the nation is all that matters. Page 31.

God Bless America: The United States of America is Blessed by God; Americans are Chosen by God to Do His Will
The idea that God has blessed America is integral to Christian Nationalists' religious and political ideology. This concept of a blessing isn't about God generally blessing humanity, but is instead the assertion of a special relationship between God and America - a relationship not unlike the one described in the Old Testament between God and Israel. Without this special relationship, much of Christian Nationalists' religious and political agenda would be difficult if not impossible to justify. Page 2.

God is a Republican & Conservative: If You Love God, You Must Be Conservative and Vote Republican, God's Own Party
It's interesting just how often conservatives and Republicans claim that God is on their side politically - that their policies, their politics, their agenda, and even their political party are specifically favored by God. Many people recognize it as a sign of extreme arrogance and hubris to imagine that God is taking one's side in the political realm. This tactic is much more, and much worse, than mere hubris though. It is also an attempt to undermine the democratic process itself. Page 41.

Godless Atheists Menace Western, Christian Civilization: Godless Atheists & Godless Sodomites Imperil Everyone
Given the relatively small numbers of atheists in America, it's curious that they would be portrayed as such an incredible threat. Even if we take into account the larger numbers of irreligious, secular, and atheistic people in other Western countries, they still don't seem to be big enough to constitute any sort of menace. So what's going on? Where's the big threat being posed by irreligious atheists? There are a couple of things which Christian Nationalists have in mind. Page 20.

Crush the Godless Liberals: All of America's Problems are Due to Godlessness and Godless Liberals
Political movements that are driven by fear and that promote authoritarian government typically require a scapegoat: some group upon which people's fears can be projected and against which authoritarian measures appear justified. There are several groups in America which Christian Nationalists have used as scapegoats, with gays and humanists being among the most popular. In recent years, however, all of the scapegoats have become lumped together into a single group: Godless Liberals. Page 23.

Fear and Hatred of Godless Sodomites: Gays and Atheists are Vermin or a Disease to be Eradicated
Christian Nationalists sometimes can't seem to decide whom to attack most and most viciously: gays or atheists. Perhaps that's why they invented the epithet Godless Sodomites, because it allows them to attack both groups simultaneously. It even allows them to pretend that the two groups are effectively the same: that gays are all godless atheists and that atheists are all, or at least tend to be, gay themselves. Page 32.

Godless Sodomites are Enemies of Christianity & the Bible: Christians' Religious Liberty Threatened by Godless Sodomites
It can be difficult for extremists on the Christian Right to convince everyone else that their desire to discriminate against gays, women, atheists, and sundry non-Christians is justified or appropriate in America. The best tactic for convincing others that discrimination and oppression are necessary is to convince them that it's somehow to preserve freedom. It's an Orwellian tactic to get people to believe that War is Peace in this manner, but it can be amazingly persuasive if framed correctly. Page 18.

Secular Schools are Hostile to Religion: You're Attacking Christianity if You're Not Actively Endorsing Christianity
A popular claim made by many Christian Nationalists is that the absence of any explicit endorsement of their religion by public schools - or indeed by government generally - represents an expression of hostility towards their religion. In particular, it is their position that the failure of schools to promote creationism, Bible reading, Christian prayers, and other examples of Christian beliefs means that the schools are effectively denigrating those beliefs. Page 28.

All Hail the King: President George W. Bush, God's Appointed Leader for America, Speaks and Acts for God
If people believe their leader is placed in charge by gods, they are less likely to question, challenge, or oppose his decisions. This is what makes such beliefs popular with authoritarian, totalitarian, theocratic, and fascist rulers; it's also what makes such beliefs inimical to democratic systems. If God, not the people, is the sovereign power responsible for Bush being president, then it means Bush is ultimately responsible to God rather than to the people. Page 7.

Manly Christian Combat Against Islamofascism: Christians Using War as a Sign of Virility, Manliness, Heterosexuality
The links between a willingness to fight in war and to violently confront one's enemies with disdain of women and homosexuality should not be underestimated. War is a task for 'real men' and women are excluded from combat roles while homosexuals are excluded from the military entirely. Today efforts to insist that America's fight against 'Islamofascism' is a test of Christianity and of America's masculine resolve almost cries out for ridicule and satire. Page 17.

Christian Nationalism & Christian Fascism: What Will it Take to Cause Christian Nationalism to Become Fully Fascist?
Many are disturbed about far-right movements in America displaying too many characteristics of fascism. The central organizing ideology behind these groups is Christian Nationalism, the belief that America should have its cultural, legal, and political institutions organized along narrowly defined conservative, evangelical Christian lines. Christian Nationalist movements exhibit many of the basic characteristics of fascist movements except for one: organized, militant groups. Page 14.

Real Christians Do No Wrong: Brutal Behavior in the War on Terror Isn't Real Brutality When Christians Do It
This image was taken from a World War II poster which also stated as its headline 'This is Nazi Brutality,' but the text was about how Nazi troops had killed the men of Lidice, Czechoslovakia and deported all of the women to concentration camps. The image of a prisoner with a hood over his head is disturbingly close to the iconic photograph from Abu Ghraib, but that may be because brutal regimes keep repeating the same tactics generation after generation. Page 4.

One Nation, Under God: America is a Christian Nation, You Aren't a Real American if you Don't Believe in God
A basic belief for the Christian Right is that America is a 'Christian Nation.' This belief is one of the most important foundations of every other position they advocate. This poster is based upon a World War II poster stating that 'Teaching is War-Work, Too.' I have repalced the original text with advocacy of the concept that America is a nation 'Under God' and that you can't be a real American unless you believe in God.

Pregnancy as a Punishment for Sex? Women Should Suffer the Consequences of Sex and Sexual Activity
Conservative evangelical objections to contraception, emergency contraception, and even abortion can often be traced at least in part to their objections to 'irresponsible' sexual activity. The above image was originally a World War II poster designed to encourage people to buy more war bonds. The headline said 'I Gave a Man!' She has sacrificed far more than those who are only being asked to spend at least 10% of their earnings on war bonds to help fund the war effort. Page 30.

Protecting their Daughter's Precious Sexual Purity: Placing Responsibility for Women's Virginity with Fathers, Husbands
Religious conservatives are pushing to have fathers take charge of their daughters' sexuality and 'sexual purity.' In the past, men effectively owned their kids and controlled daughters' sexuality. This changed as women gained the right to act as autonomous human beings; religious conservatives want to roll that back. One example of this is the 'Purity Ball,' an annual event in which fathers and daughters pledge to work together to preserve her sexual purity. Page 38.

Scrap the Constitution: Civil Liberties Mean Nothing when our Enemies Want to Kill Us
One of the most important issues coming out of the international War on Terror is the domestic War on Liberty. It seems that every nation which has chosen to take part in America's Crusade against Islamofascism has discovered that they can't fight terrorism while continuing to respect traditional civil liberties. People are being told by their governments that this is a new era and that there are new challenges which require us to rethink our old commitments to liberty, and justice. Page 8.

Don't Take God Out of Schools: Evil Atheists Removed God and Prayer from Public Schools, Leading to Disaster
A popular myth for the Christian Right is the idea that atheists forced God, prayer, and Bible reading out of public schools, leading to social, moral, and educational disasters which continue to plague America. The above poster was created during World War I about the need to feed motherless, fatherless, and starving children in war-torn France. I have replaced the text with the claim that the destruction in the background is because of the secularist removal of God from schools.. Page 24.

Teaching the Controversy: Public School Children Must Always Learn Both Sides of Any Controversial Issue
Conservative Christians haven't had any luck getting public schools to teach creationism under any of its many guises, including the most recent incarnation known as

Thank God for George W. Bush: Christian Nationalists Believe Bush Was Chosen by God, not by the People
An important facet of Christian Nationalist ideology is the principle that God selects the nation's leaders. If people believe their leader is placed in charge by gods, they are less likely to question, challenge, or oppose his decisions. This is what makes such beliefs popular with authoritarian, totalitarian, theocratic, and fascist rulers; it's also what makes such beliefs inimical to democratic systems. Democracy requires the principle that citizens, not gods, choose their leaders. Page 25.

Now We Can All Sleep Safely, if Lightly: Vichy Democrats & God's Own Republicans have Bipartisan Torture Agreement
Tell me again why secularists and godless liberals need to learn to be more accommodating of liberal religion and liberal Christianity? The simple and unavoidable fact of the matter is that 'secular' Americans (which must include atheists and agnostics, but probably also some non-religious theists) are far less likely to support torture under any circumstances than any denomination of Christian Americans. Page 6.

Defining Brutality Downwards: America's Actions are Just and Decent if Others Behave Worse
Time and again stories have leaked out about Americans using torture, brutality, and questionable methods for dealing with or interrogating detainees. These acts have been defended and justified to the hilt by religious conservatives who are more commonly seen attacking liberals for their alleged lack of morality. It's as if America can do anything and remain moral, just so long as the enemy continues to do worse. That's a perfect example of relativistic morality. Page 10.

WWJD: The Prince of Peace as a Symbol for War on Muslims, Islamic Extremism, Islamofascism
This poster was created from an American World War I poster encouraging people to give to the Victory Fund campaign. The original text was 'Shall Chaos Triumph' and evidently meant for people to give as much as possible to advance the military campaign against the Huns - who during this era were described in terms not too different from how American Christians today describe the Islamofascists among Muslims. Page 26.

Without God, All Things are Permitted: Godless Atheists Promote a Valueless, Immoral World without Order or Structure
Religious believers tend to associate their religion closely with morality. Some go so far as to think that the two are inseparable - that without their religion, or religion generally, or at least some sort of theism, morality and moral behavior are impossible. Depending on their attitude, this can lead people to insist that unless a person is a member of their religion, or is a member of some religion, or is at least a theist, then they cannot be moral. Page 35.

Control of Women's Sexuality & Reproductive Organs: Men Asserting Authority Over Reproduction and Women
It has become almost a cliche for the Christian Right to denigrate the idea that women should be able to make their own decisions about their reproductive organs. The above image was taken from a World War II poster which is disturbing close to the theme here. It's of a woman saying 'I'm proud... my husband wants me to do my part.' In other words, she's proud of her husband for not just grudgingly allowing her to enter the work force, but actually wanting her to do so. Page 15.

Muslim Woman From Egypt: Women's Lewdness Will Be Doubly Punished
O ye wives of the Prophet! Whosoever of you committeth manifest lewdness, the punishment for her will be doubled, and that is easy for Allah. And whosoever of you is submissive unto Allah and His messenger and doeth right, We shall give her her reward twice over, and We have prepared for her a rich provision. O ye wives of the Prophet! Ye are not like any other women. Page 7.

Muslim Woman from Herzegovina in Concealing Clothing: Women Must be Concealed from Others
'O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.'. Page 8.

Muslim Woman in Cairo: Men, Not Woman, Make Decisions About Pregnancy
Ibn Fahd said: 'I have some slave girls who are better than my wives, but I do not desire that they should all become pregnant. Shall I do azl (withdrawal) with them?' Hajjaj said: 'They are your fields of cultivation. If you wish to irrigate them then do so, if not keep them dry.'. Page 10.

Muslim Woman in Chador: Double Standards on Sex for Men and Women
'As for those of your women who are guilty of lewdness, call to witness four of you against them. And if they testify [that the allegation is true] then confine them to the houses until death take them or (until) Allah appoint for them a way [new legislation]. And as for the two of you [men] who are guilty thereof, punish them both. And if they repent and improve, then let them be. Lo! Allah is ever relenting, Merciful.'. Page 4.

Muslim Woman in Jaffa: Women Can be Taken as Slaves in Battle
'And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess. It is a decree of Allah for you. Lawful unto you are all beyond those mentioned, so that ye seek them with your wealth in honest wedlock, not debauchery. And those of whom ye seek content (by marrying them), give unto them their portions as a duty. And there is no sin for you in what ye do by mutual agreement after the duty (hath been done).'. Page 5.

Muslim Woman with Child in Palestine, c. 1911: Why Did Muhammad Marry Aisha, a Girl Just Six Years Old?
Narrated Aisha: The prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six. We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Harith Kharzraj. ... Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, 'Best wishes and Allah's blessing and a good luck.' Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah's messenger (Muhammad) came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age. Page 14.

Muslim Women in Algeria: Women Have No Choice About Sex
Women are your fields: go, then, into your fields whence you please. ... Allah's Messenger said, 'When a man calls his wife to satisfy his desire she must go to him even if she is occupied at the oven.' Allah's Apostle said, 'By him in whose hand is my life, when a man calls his wife to his bed, and she does not respond, the One Who is in the heaven is displeased with her untill he (her husband) is pleased with her.'. Page 9.

Muslim Women in Palanquins: Men are in Charge of Women
Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Page 2.

Muslim Women in Tripoli: Women Have to be Pretty and Good for Sex
When Allah's Messenger was asked which woman was best he replied, 'The one who pleases (her husband) when he looks at her, obeys him when he gives a command, and does not go against his wishes regarding her person or property by doing anything of which he disapproves. Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: When I got married, Allah's Apostle said to me, 'What type of lady have you married?' I replied, 'I have married a matron' He said, 'Why, don't you have a liking for the virgins and for fondling them?'. Page 11.

Suppressing Books & Ideas: Books Cannot be Killed by Fire, but They Can Be Kept Out of Your Hands
This was originally a World War II poster with a quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt: 'Books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever. No man and no force can take from the world the books that embody man's eternal fight against tyranny. In this war, we know, books are weapons.' Keeping books out of people's hands by ensuring that they never see or learn about them is less dramatic, but more effective. Page 33.

Only Christians Need Apply: Transforming America's Military into a Christian Military
The militarization of Christianity and the Christianization of the military is something which should worry everyone, including moderate and Christians in America. If Christian Nationalists are able to acquire significant influence through the military, they could acquire a degree of military power within the United States. There is no example of the militarization of a religion which has turned out well, nor any such example of a military coming under the sway of a particular religion. Page 3.

Afghan Woman with Child in the Province of Parwan, Afghanistan - Why Did Muhammad Consummate a Marriage with Aisha, a Girl Just Nine Years Old?
In the Afghan culture it is a common sight to see the women completly covered when in public, July 10, 2002. his Afghan female shows the stark contrast between those traditions required of adults but not enforced on children. Image taken in the Province of Parwan. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Sean A. Terry)

Iranian Woman: Women in Islam Must Be Modest
'And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands' fathers, or their sons or their husbands' sons, or their brothers or their brothers' sons or sisters' sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigour, or children who know naught of women's nakedness.'. Page 6.

Iranian Woman Riding a Mule, in Burqa: Women Cannot Travel Alone
The Prophet said, 'A woman should not travel except with a Dhu-Mahram (her husband or a man with whom that woman cannot marry at all according to the Islamic jurisprudence), and no man may visit her except in the presence of a Dhu-Mahram.'. Page 12.

Iranian Woman in Full Burqa, c. 1928: Disobedient Women Must be Punished
'The Prophet said: 'I was shown the Hell-fire and that the majority of its dwellers were women who were ungrateful.' It was asked,

Iranian Women, Completely Covered: Muslim Men Can Marry Multiple Women
'If you fear you can not treat orphans (girls) with fairness, then you may marry other women who seem good to you: two, three or four of them. But if you fear that you can not maintain equality among them, marry only one or any slave girls you may own. This will make it easier for you to avoid injustice.'. Page 3.

Iranian Women in Full Burqas: Women are Worth Less than Men
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: The Prophet said, 'Isn't the witness of a women equal to half that of a man?' The women said 'yes'. He said 'This is because of the deficiency of the women's mind.

What is the Status of Women in Islam?
One of the major points on which Islam is criticism by both Muslims and non-Muslims is the treatment of women. Under Islam, women often must remain covered, they are denied contact with non-related men, they can be denied the ability to get jobs and education to the same extent as men, they are treated as having less political or social worth than men, and they are discriminated against in a variety of ways. Muslim scholars may insist that this is for their own good, but does this ring true?

What is the Status of Women in Islam?
One of the major points on which Islam is criticism by both Muslims and non-Muslims is the treatment of women. Under Islam, women often must remain covered, they are denied contact with non-related men, they can be denied the ability to get jobs and education to the same extent as men, they are treated as having less political or social worth than men, and they are discriminated against in a variety of ways. Muslim scholars may insist that this is for their own good, but does this ring true?

Philosophy of Science: Definition, Nature, and Motives of Science
What is science? This is a very reasonable question, but unfortunately it isn't easy to provide a simple, definitive answer because there is no entity with the authority to define science. Coming up with a proper definition of science is not unlike coming up with a proper definition of other human institutions, like religion or family: there is so much going on that long, complex books are written in an effort to explain it all - and still people disagree.

Baalbek Grand Court: Transforming the Baalbek Temple Site into a Christian Basilica
After Christians took control, it became standard in the Roman empire for Christians to take over pagan temples and transform them into Christian churches or basilicas. The same was true of course at Baalbek. Christian leaders Constatine and Theodosius I built basilicas on the site - with Theodosius' constructed right in the main court of the Temple of Jupiter, utilizing stone blocks taken from the temple structure itself. Page 4.

Baalbek Stone of the Pregnant Woman: Unbelievably Massive Stone in the Quarry Near Baalbek, Lebanon
The Baalbek trilithon is a set of three massive stone blocks which are part of the foundation of the Temple of Jupiter Baal in Baalbek. They are so large that people cannot imagine how they were cut and transported to the site. There is a fourth block still in the quarry which is three feet longer than the blocks in the trilithon and which is estimated to weigh 1,200 tons. Locals have named it Hajar el Gouble (Stone of the South) and Hajar el Hibla (Stone of the Pregnant Woman). Page 7.

Baalbek Temple of Bacchus: Interior, Ruined Cella of the Temple of Bacchus at Baalbek, Lebanon
The temples of Jupiter and Venus at Baalbek were the means by which the Romans could worship local Canaanite or Pheonician deities, Baal and Astarte. The Temple of Bacchus, however, is based on the worship of Dionysus, a Greek god which can be traced to Minoan Crete. This would mean that it's a temple integrating worship of two important gods, one earlier and one more recent, rather than an integration of one local and one foreign god. Page 10.

Baalbek Temple of Bacchus: Exterior of the Temple of Bacchus at Baalbek, Lebanon
Because of its size, the Temple of Jupiter Baal ('Heliopolitan Zeus') receives the most attention. A second massive temple is located on the site as well, though, the Temple of Bacchus. It was constructed in the late second century during the reign of emperor Antoninus Pius, much later than the Temple of Jupiter Baal. Page 8.

Baalbek, Temple of Jupiter Baal (Heliopolitan Zeus): What is the Origin of the Temple Site and Religious Complex at Baalbek, Lebanon?
According to local legend, this site was first transformed into a site of religious worship by Cain. After the Great Flood destroyed the site (like it destroyed everything else on the planet), it was rebuilt by a race of giants under the direction of Nimrod, son of Ham and grandson of Noah. The giants, of course, made it possible to cut and transport the massive stones in the trilithon. Page 6.

Baalbek Temple of Venus: Diagram of the Temple of Venus at Baalbek, Lebanon
This diagram shows what the Temple of Venus in Baalbek, Lebanon, originally looked like. Today all that's left is the wall to the rear. Although earthquakes and time probably did most of the damage, Christians may have contributed to it. There are many examples of early Christians attacking religious worship here - not merely worship at Baalbek generally, but at the Temple of Venus in particular. Page 12.

Baalbek Temple of Venus: Rear of the Small Temple of Venus at Baalbek, Lebanon
The above photo shows what's left of the Temple of Venus where the Canaanite goddess Astarte was worshipped. This is the back of the temple ruins; the front and sides no longer remain. It's interesting that this temple is so small compared to the temples of Jupiter and Bacchus - there's really no comparison in size and it's located away from the other two. You can see a person sitting on the right hand side of this image to get a feel for the size of the Temple of Venus. Page 11.

Baalbek Trilithon: Three Massive Stone Blocks Beneath the Temple of Jupiter Baal (Heliopolitan Zeus) at Baalbek, Lebanon
At 290 feet long, 160 feet wide, the Temple of Jupiter Baal ('Heliopolitan Zeus') in Baalbek, Lebanon, was created to be the largest religious complex in the Roman empire. As impressive as this is, one of the most impressive aspects of this site is almost hidden from view: beneath and behind the ruined remains of the temple itself are three massive stone block called the trilithon. Page 5.

The Great Mosque of Baalbek: Colonnade of the Ruins of the Omayyad Mosque in Baalbek, Lebanon
This photograph, taken in the late 19th or early 20th century, shows the ruins of the Great Mosque of Baalbek. Constructed during the Omayyad period, either in the late 7th or early 8th century, it is on the site of an ancient Roman forum and uses granite taken from the Baalbek temple site. It also re-uses Corinthian columns from older Roman structures found around the forum. Page 13.

Baalbek Temple of Bacchus: Entrance to the Temple of Bacchus at Baalbek, Lebanon
In this photo, we see what's left of the entrance to the Temple of Bacchus in Baalbek. If you look closely, you'll see a person standing near the bottom center of the image. Notice just how large the entrance is when compared to the height of a human being and then remember that this is the smaller of the two temples: The Temple of Jupiter Baal ('Heliopolitan Zeus') was much larger. Page 9.

Christianity, Christians, Christian Beliefs: Examining Christianity, Christian Beliefs, and Christians
Christianity is one of the most popular religions in the world. It has a long history - not always pleasant. Here you can learn about various Christian groups, the Bible, Christian history, critiques of Christianity, the Religious Right, extremist Christians, recovery from Christianity, Jesus and much more.

Debating God
Atheism Debates - discussions and debates between atheists and theists about god, religion, morality and more.

Skepticism Excludes Atheism Because God Can't be Tested?
Many claim that skepticism and atheism must be separate because 'God' cannot be tested for scientifically. This is not necessarily true.

Why and How Godless Science is Superior to Religion
Science is superior to religion in terms of improving the lives, health, and welfare of humanity on a very basic level and all around the world.

Objective vs. Subjective in Philosophy and Religion
Being objective is being free of personal bias; being subjective is being influence by personal bias. Is one better than the other, though?

Karl Marx: Is Religion the Opiate of the Masses?
Marx is well known for saying that religion is the opiate of the masses, but his perspective on religion is more complex and nuanced than many realize

Submission & Obedience to Husbands: Women Must Submit to Husbands in Marriage, Church in All Things
Carefully structured and clearly organized hierarchies of power appear to be very important not only to Christian Nationalists, but conservative and fundamentalist religious believers of all types. This concern extends along the entire spectrum of power relationships, including most especially the power relationships within the smallest social unity of society: the family. This image was taken of a World War I poster depicting a woman reporting for duty to the nation to assist in the war. Page 21.

Baalbek Temple of Jupiter Baal (Heliopolitan Zeus): Two Views of the Six Remaining Columns from the Temple of Jupiter in Baalbek, Lebanon
It is fitting that for the largest temple complex in the Roman Empire, Caesar would have the largest temples constructed. The Temple of Jupiter Baal ('Heliopolitan Zeus') itself was 290 feet long, 160 feet wide, and surrounded by 54 massive columns each of which were 7 feet in diameter and 70 feet tall. This made the Temple of Jupiter at Baalbek the same height as a 6-storey building, all cut from stone quarried nearby. Page 2.

Baalbek, Temple of Jupiter Baal (Heliopolitan Zeus): Site of Worship of Canaanite God Baal
The Baalbek complex of Roman temples is founded upon an older site dedicated to Semitic gods worshipped by the Phoenicians who were part of the Canaanite religious and cultural tradition. Baal, which can be translated as 'lord' or 'god,' was the name given to the high god at nearly every Phoenician city-state. It's likely then that Baal was the high god at Baalbek and it it's not at all implausible that the Romans chose to build their temple to Jupiter on the site of a temple to Baal.

Christian Right Propaganda Posters: How the Christian Right Might Promote their Agenda, Beliefs
As outrageous as the Christian Right's overall agenda is, their specific arguments and beliefs can be worse. I have written many articles exploring the arguments and beliefs advocated the Christian Right in order to reveal just how awful, and awfully absurd, they can be. Mere words, though, cannot always convey the true absurdity of a position. For that reason I have created propaganda posters which promote some of the beliefs of the Christian Right.

Christian Right Propaganda Posters: How the Christian Right Might Promote their Agenda, Beliefs
As outrageous as the Christian Right's overall agenda is, their specific arguments and beliefs can be worse. I have written many articles exploring the arguments and beliefs advocated the Christian Right in order to reveal just how awful, and awfully absurd, they can be. Mere words, though, cannot always convey the true absurdity of a position. For that reason I have created propaganda posters which promote some of the beliefs of the Christian Right.

Christian Right Propaganda Posters: How the Christian Right Might Promote their Agenda, Beliefs
As outrageous as the Christian Right's overall agenda is, their specific arguments and beliefs can be worse. I have written many articles exploring the arguments and beliefs advocated the Christian Right in order to reveal just how awful, and awfully absurd, they can be. Mere words, though, cannot always convey the true absurdity of a position. For that reason I have created propaganda posters which promote some of the beliefs of the Christian Right.

Christian Right Propaganda Posters: How the Christian Right Might Promote their Agenda, Beliefs
As outrageous as the Christian Right's overall agenda is, their specific arguments and beliefs can be worse. I have written many articles exploring the arguments and beliefs advocated the Christian Right in order to reveal just how awful, and awfully absurd, they can be. Mere words, though, cannot always convey the true absurdity of a position. For that reason I have created propaganda posters which promote some of the beliefs of the Christian Right.

Baalbek Temple Complex: Overview of the Temple Complex and Temples of Jupiter & Bacchus at Baalbek, Lebanon
There must have been a strong religious presence in Baalbek before the Romans, and perhaps a widely regarded oracle. Otherwise, there would have been little reason for Caesar to choose this place to put any sort of temple complex, much less the largest one in his empire. There was certainly a temple to Baal (Adon in Hebrew, Hadad in Assyrian) here and probably also a temple to Astrate (Atargatis) as well. Page 3.

Development of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion: How the Sounion Temple of Poseidon Changed
The Temple of Poseidon on Cape Sounion is one of the most spectacular ancient Greek temples around. Built in 444 BCE, it replaced an earlier, unfinished temple that had been damaged by Persians in 480 BCE. The design is attributed to the anonymous architect who also designed the Hephaisteion (Theseion) in nearby Athens. Page 4.

Baalbek, Lebanon: Roman Heliopolis and Temple Site at Baalbek in Lebanon's Beqaa Valley
Located in Lebanon's Beqaa valley, 86 km northeast of Beirut and 60 km from the Mediterranean coast, Baalbek is one of the best least-known Roman sites in the world. Based around temples to the developing Roman trinity of Jupiter, Baachus, and Venus, this complex was constructed upon an older sacred site dedicated to a triad of Canaanite deities: Hadad, Atargatis, and Baal. All around the temple complex of Baalbek are tombs cut into the rocks from the Phoenician era centuries earlier.

Baalbek, Lebanon: Roman Heliopolis and Temple Site at Baalbek in Lebanon's Beqaa Valley
Located in Lebanon's Beqaa valley, 86 km northeast of Beirut and 60 km from the Mediterranean coast, Baalbek is one of the best least-known Roman sites in the world. Based around temples to the developing Roman trinity of Jupiter, Baachus, and Venus, this complex was constructed upon an older sacred site dedicated to a triad of Canaanite deities: Hadad, Atargatis, and Baal. All around the temple complex of Baalbek are tombs cut into the rocks from the Phoenician era centuries earlier.