Court Decisions - Newdow v. U.S. Congress (2002): Pledge of Allegiance, Under God
Newdow v. U.S. Congress: The Pledge of Allegiance has been recited by tens of millions of school children over the years and is familiar to most Americans - but was the 1950s addition of the phrase
Newdow v. U.S. Congress (2002): Ninth Circuit Court Decision on Standing and Harm
Newdow v. U.S. Congress: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recognized very early on that this was fundamentally a religious issue when it found that Newdow, as a father, had standing to bring his suit in the first place. This set the stage for considering whether or not the Pledge has enough of a religious component to prevent the State from endorsing it or leading children in recitation of it. Page 2.
Newdow v. U.S. Congress (2002): Ninth Circuit Court Decision on Endorsement & Coercion
Newdow v. U.S. Congress: After deciding that Michael Newdow had standing to bring his case and that it was possible for him and his daughter to be harmed by the state-endorsed recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, the Court considered whether or not the Pledge passed the Endorsement Test, the Coercion Test, and the Lemon Test. The Pledge failed all three. Page 3.
Newdow v. U.S. Congress (2002): Significance of & Reactions to the Ninth Circuit Court Decision
Newdow v. U.S. Congress: This was the first time in a long while that the rights of those who do not accept the majorityís religious beliefs have been vindicated. Judge Goodwin, the author of the decision, was very careful in how he phrased things, but the political fallout was predictably hysterical and negative. Page 4.
Stone v. Graham (Supreme Court, 1980): Posting the Ten Commandments in Schools
Are the Ten Commandments secular enough to warrant posting in all public school classes, or are they so religious that such postings would amount to a government endorsement of religion aimed at impressionable children? Does the fact that the government says their purpose is secular suffice to regard the actions as actually secular?
Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith (1990)
Should religious groups be able to ignore generally applicable laws? If religious believers think that they have religious reasons for some activity that is otherwise illegal, should they be allowed to do it freely while others are prosecuted and jailed for the same activity? That was the question raised in Oregon v. Smith, where adherents of a Native American religious group argued they should be allowed to use peyote in religious services while everyone else is banned from using peyote.
Sherbert v. Verner (1963) - Supreme Court Decision in Sherbert v. Verner
Employers find it easy to accommodate the religious practices of majority faiths, but the different practices of minority faiths require extra thought. Apparently, it's too much thought and effort for some employers because the same accommodations given to adherents of mainstream Christian churches are sometimes denied outright to even minority Christian churches, never mind non-Christians. The Supreme Court ruled in Sherbert v. Verner that adherents of minority faiths cannot be disadvantaged.
Pledge of Allegiance & God: Linking Patriotism with Piety (Church/State Myths)
Because of the words
Pledge of Allegiance & God: Politicization of the Pledge of Allegiance (Church/State Myths)
Over time, the Pledge of Allegiance has grown to become not just something for children to recite, but rather a political issue for politicians to use in an effort to prove who is the most authentically patriotic. This politicizing of both patriotism and piety has led to quite a bit of violence against those who have dared to remain silent, whether for political or religious reasons. Page 2.
Pledge of Allegiance & God: Divisiveness of the Pledge of Allegiance (Church/State Myths)
One may wonder, is the phrase
Christianity vs. The Constitution - Christian Principles in the Constitution?
Opponents of church/state separation sometimes claim that the Constitution embodies or reflects fundamental Christian morals and principles. Their point seems to be that we should regard the Constitution as a Christian document, not as a secular document. Since the Constitution is the foundation of the American government, the implication is that American government is Christian in nature, not secular, and so it's only right if Christian beliefs are promoted by the state. Is any of this true?
C.S. Lewis: Biography of C.S. Lewis - Christian Author, Apologist
C.S. Lewis was an author, a scholar of English literature and a famous Christian apologist. The son of a lawyer, Lewis grew up in Ireland at a time when northern Ireland was not torn by the bitter strife which would eventually come to characterize its religious situation. Early on he developed a love for reading and learning. He rejected Christianity at an early age, deciding that Christian myths were inferior to others in the world and that the Christian god, if it existed, must be a sadist.
C.S. Lewis and the Argument from Desire: Arguing that our Desire for God Proves that God Exists
One of the earliest arguments offered by C.S. Lewis for believing in the existence of God can be labeled the 'Argument from Desire.' According to Lewis and other apologists, every desire is necessarily a desire for something, and every natural desire must have some object that will satisfy it. Since humans desire the joy and experience of God, therefore there must be a God that will satisfy our desires.
Albert Einstein on the Existence of God: Did Einstein Believe in God? Human Fantasy Created Gods Which Now Must Be Given Up
What did Albert Einstein think about belief in personal gods? Einstein said: 'During the youthful period of mankind's spiritual evolution, human fantasy created gods in man's own image who, by the operations of their will were supposed to determine, or at any rate influence, the phenomenal world... The idea of God in the religions taught at present is a sublimation of that old conception of the gods.'
Evolution vs. Creationism - Does Evolution Contradict Creationism?
Debates about evolution in America typically take the form of a contest or conflict between two competing ideas, evolutionary theory and creationism. Because of this, it is generally assumed that the two are incompatible and mutually exclusive - an impression which scientific creationists are often quick to instill and perpetuate. Despite how much attention is given to conflicts between evolution and creationism, not everyone treats them as mutually incompatible.
Life - How Did It Get Here? Jehovah's Witnesses on Evolution
Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the book Life: How did it get here? By evolution or by creation? is the standard reference work on evolution and creationism for Jehovah's Witnesses and even enjoys some popularity among other religious conservatives. The inaccuracies and falsehoods in the book tells us something about both about the intellectual honesty of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society as well the critical thinking skills of those who accept it.
Anti-Atheist Bigotry: Atheists are Privileged, Better Educated in America - Are Atheists too Privileged to be Victims of Discrimination, Bigotry?
One way people try to dismiss claims of anti-atheist bigotry is to argue that atheists in America are too well educated, too privileged, and too well off financially to be the victims of anything awful. How can people whose demographics tend to be better than average complain about being victims? Such arguments are just red herrings, however, because there is nothing about education or income which will necessarily prevent a group from experiencing bigotry, hate, prejudice, or discrimination.
Soren Kierkegaard Biography: Biographical History of Existentialism
Soren Kierkegaard's ideas about human freedom in an uncertain world make him one of the founders of existentialism, even though he did not use that label for himself. There is, indeed, little in existentialist philosophy today which cannot also be found in the writings of Kierkegaard.
Spence v. Washington (1974): Can You Attach Symbols or Emblems to the American Flag?
Should the government be able to prevent people from attaching symbols, words, or pictures to American flags in public? That was the question before the Supreme Court in Spence v. Washington, a case where a college student was prosecuted for publicly displaying an American flag to which he had attached large peace symbols. The Court found that Spence had a constitutional right to use the American flag to communicate his intended message, even if the government disagreed with him.
Spence v. Washington Dissents: Government Can Ban Defacing a Privately Owned American Flag
The Supreme Court's decision in Spence v. Washington was not unanimous. Three justices - Burger, Rehnquist, and White - disagreed with the majority's conclusion that individuals have a free speech right to alter, even temporarily, an American flag in order to communicate some message. They agreed that Spence was indeed engaged in communicating a message, but they disagreed that Spence should be allowed to alter the flag to do so. Page 2.
United States v. Eichman (1990): Can the Government Ban Defacing, Defiling, or Burning American Flags?
Within months of the Texas v. Johnson decision that burning an American flag is constitutionally protected expression, Congress passed the Flag Protection Act, legislatively challenging the Court's ruling and prohibiting the desecration of American flags. For the second time in two years, the Supreme Court was faced with the question of whether the government could ban flag burning.
United States v. Eichman Dissent:
The Supreme Court decision in the case of United States v. Eichman was not unanimous. The same justice who dissented the previous year in Texas v Johnson - Justices Rehnquist, White, O'Connor, and Stevens - dissented here as well. Like the majority opinion, they made the same basic arguments as before because the case itself didn't really raise any new questions.. Page 2.
Smith v. Goguen (1974): Can the Government Ban Wearing the Flag on the Seat of your Pants?
Can the government criminalize misuse of the American flag, acts which treat the flag contemptuously? In the case of Smith v. Goguen, the Supreme Court had to decide whether a Massachusetts teenager could be convicted for wearing a patch of the American flag on the seat of his pants. According to the Court, the Massachusetts law against misusing the American flag was unconstitutionally vague.
Smith v. Goguen Dissents: The Government Has the Power to Protect the Meaning of the American Flag
The Supreme Court decision in Smith v. Goguen was not unanimous - Rehnquist, Blackmun, and Burger dissented from the majority's conclusion that a Massachusetts law making criminals out of whoever 'treats contemptuously the flag of the United States' was unconstitutionally vague. All three insisted that the American flag deserved special levels of protection which would prevent people from using the flag in ways that communicated disrespect or contempt. Page 2.
Stromberg v. California (1931): Do Free Speech Protections Cover Non-Verbal Communication?
Using words to express opposition to the American government is generally accepted, but what about symbols or emblems? Does the right to free speech include a right to express views and communicate ideas via means other than literal speech? The Supreme Court was asked to decide this in the case of Stromberg v. California and they ruled that use of a flag to communicate ideas was, indeed, covered by the Constitution's protections for free speech.
Meaning of the American Flag: Bans on Flag Burning are an Attempt to Copyright the Meaning of the Flag
One vitally important issue in the debate over burning and desecrating the American flag tends to be ignored: what exactly does the American flag mean and why? The American flag is a symbol, which is to say that it represents America itself. Therefore, the question of what the American flag means is necessarily a question about what America means and what it stands for.
Georgia State Laws on Flag Burning, Desecration: Georgia's Laws on Desecration, Abuse, Commmercial Use of the American Flag and State Flag
In Georgia, it's a crime to use the American flag or the flag of Georgia 'for the purpose of advertising, selling, or promoting the sale of any article of merchandise.' Included in this is 'any flag or emblem used by the Confederate States of America or the military or naval forces of the Confederate States of America at any time within the years 1860 to 1865, both inclusive.'
Virtual Child Pornography - Should Virtual Child Porn Be Banned?
The Christian Right's war on pornography and any sexuality that deviates from their standards creates a lot of collateral damage, including free speech. No one is likely to defend child pornography, but in the effort to stamp out child porn, anti-pornography activists tried to eliminate 'virtual' child pornography - images that look like they are of children, but which were created without any children being involved. Those efforts have been challenged in the courts.
Gay Marriage vs. Divorce & Remarriage: Banning Divorce to Protect and Preserve Traditional Marriage
Religious conservatives are fierce defenders of the idea that gay marriage must be absolutely prohibited to 'save' traditional marriage. They even argue that anything remotely resembling marriage, like civil unions, must be banned as well. If we ignore how most of this position is tied inextricably to religious ideology, and focus solely on the claim that traditional marriage is in danger, what do we find? Inconsistency and hypocrisy.
Religion in India: Hindu Rituals
A detailed series of life-cycle rituals (samskara) mark major transitions in the life of the individual. Especially orthodox Hindu families may invite Brahman priests to their homes to officiate at these rituals, complete with sacred fire and recitations of mantras. Most of these rituals do not occur in the presence of such priests and there may be other officiants or variations in the rites.
Interview Your Political Candidates - Ask Politicians About Atheism, Secularism
How do you decide which political candidate to vote for? Do you vote for the same political party as usual? Do you go over a candidate's record and positions? Even if you do basic research, when was the last time you saw much or any information about a candidate's views on issues like equal civil rights for atheists and church/state separation? Such information is rare, which means you need to do some original research. You need to interview the political candidates asking for your vote.
Christian Censorship of Harry Potter: Schools, Libraries, and Free Speech
The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling are not only popular with children, they are popular with Christian censors as well. Harry Potter books have consistently been among the most challenged books in schools and libraries for the past several years, according to the American Library Association. Why do so many Christians object to Harry Potter? How have conservative Christians attempted to censor the Harry Potter books and prevent kids from reading them?
Osama bin Laden's Goals: Waging War on the Infidel West, Crusader State of Israel, and Apostate Muslims at Home
What does Osama bin Laden want, and why does he want it? These questions can best be answered by studying the development of this tradition of Islamic extremism in the Middle East, especially since World War II. Although these fundamentalist groups preach a theology which values the earliest traditions of Islam, it remains nevertheless a very modern movement which has achieved broad popularity, especially among like-minded thinkers who have created what has become known as Islamism.
Islamic Groups and Muslims: Ismaili Islam
Ismaili Islam: In the eighth century, a dispute arose over who should lead the Shia community after the death of the Sixth Imam, Jaafar ibn Muhammad (also known as Jaafar al Sadiq). Those who followed the teaching of Musa al Kazim became the main body of Shi'ites, while those who followed the teachings of Musa's brother, Ismail, were called Ismailis.
Kitzmiller v. Dover: Summary and Analysis of the Decision Against Dover's Intelligent Design Policy
The Dover Area School Board voted on October 18, 2004, that students in the schools should be 'made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin's theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design.' This was the first time in America that any schools at any level would specifically promote Intelligent Design. It would become an important test case for whether Intelligent Design could be taught constitutionally.
Precising Definitions: Limited Definitions to Reduce Vagueness in Specific Contexts
Although a good lexical definition should reduce the ambiguity inherent in a term, it cannot reduce the termís vagueness. For that, we need to move to a precising definition (also sometimes called an explicative definition).
Stipulative Definitions: Arbitrary Definitions to Introduce New Concepts
We have a stipulative definition any time a word is being defined for the first time or in a brand new way. Stipulative definitions are in a sense completely arbitrary - this means that they are basically non-binding proposals which no one needs to assent to. Stipulative definitions may be too complex, too obscure, or too unclear, but they cannot be judged true or false, accurate or inaccurate.
Theoretical Definitions: Constructing a 'Theory' About the Nature of a Concept
If a definition is supposed to help us better understand a concept, theoretical definitions are those which do the most heavy work in that regard. Lexical definitions try to help us understand how a concept is used, but theoretical definitions try to help us understand how a concept is and should be used in all cases. Theoretical definitions occur whenever we try to characterize all entities or examples of a particular type thing or concept...
Self-Deception: Sometimes We Mislead Even Ourselves - Flaws in Reasoning and Arguments
If deception is the process of misleading others in order to get them to accept something as true even when it is false, then self-deception is the process of misleading yourself so that you will accept something as true even when you should acknowledge that it is false.
Subjective Validation: Seeing Patterns & Connections That Aren't Really There - Flaws in Reasoning and Arguments
Subjective Validation is also sometimes called the 'personal validation effect' because it refers to a process by which people accept some claim or phenomenon as valid based solely upon a few personal experiences and/or subjective perception. In practice, this error is cited when a person perceives two independent events as having some sort of deeper, hidden relationship because of that person's prior beliefs, expectations or hypotheses about the world.
Vagueness: Inhibiting Communication Through Lack of Precision - Flaws in Reasoning and Arguments
Generally speaking, the best arguments also tend to be the more precise arguments. Precision in arguments is an important step in making them more coherent, more comprehensible, and free from flaws. Precision means that both the arguer and the listener are able to develop a better grasp of what the argument says and means. It follows, then, that vagueness in an enemy of sound arguments.
Nihilism and Christianity: Death of God Theology
Like nihilism and existentialism, the idea of 'Death of God Theology' is not so much a coherent school of philosophy as it is a trend or mood in modern theology. It argues that there needs to be a transformation from a Christian to a 'post-Christian' theology. This theology is supposed to be, in the words of F. Thomas Trotter, 'anti-metaphysical, earnestly moral, and hopefully secular.'
Existential Nihilism: Nihilism, Nihilists, and Nihilistic Philosophy
Aside from moral nihilism, the other primary sense of the term which existed as a part of early Russian Nihilism and which has continued even today might be called 'existential nihilism.' It shares a close affinity with Existentialism, arguing that human life is ultimately trivial and meaningless. Where it parts company with Existentialism, however, is in the level of resulting despair and the conclusion that therefore perhaps the best course of action is suicide.
Moral Nihilism: Nihilism, Nihilists, and Nihilistic Philosophy
One primary understanding of nihilism which existed even within early Russian Nihilism and has continued down through today is the idea that moral norms, but especially traditional morality, cannot be justified by any rational or scientific standards. As a consequence, they have no 'reality' - they do not exist anywhere except in the minds of people and hence do not really 'exist' at all.
Responses to Nihilism: Despair vs. Embrace in Postmodern Nihilism
Many of the most common responses to the basic premises of nihilism come down to despair: despair over the loss of God, despair over the loss of objective and absolute values, and/or despair over the postmodern condition of alienation and dehumanization. That does not, however, exhaust all of the possible responses - just as with early Russian Nihilism, there are those who embrace this perspective and rely upon it as a means for further development.
Controlled, Repeatable Experiments: Why Parapsychology is a Pseudoscience, Not a Science
These are two important factors of genuine science: controls and repeatability. Scientific theories are based upon and lead to controlled, repeatable experiments whereas pseudoscientific theories are based upon and lead to experiments which are not controlled and/or are not repeatable.
Nietzsche, Truth, and Untruth: Nietsche's Will to Truth
Nietzsche's target was not truth but faith, specifically the blind faith that is motivated by the
Nietzsche, Truth, and Untruth - Faith in Truth: When is Untruth Necessary?
A faith in truth which never questions the value of truth suggests, to Nietzsche, that the value of truth cannot be demonstrated and is probably false. If all he were concerned about was to argue that truth did not exist he could have left it at that, but he didn't. Instead he moves on to argue that at times, untruth can indeed be a necessary condition of life. The fact that a belief is false is not and has not in the past been a reason for people to abandon it... Page 3.
Nietzsche, Truth, and Untruth: Evaluating whether Truth is Better than Untruth
The advantages of truth over untruth, reality over falsehood, appear so obvious that it seems inconceivable that anyone would even draw it into question, much less suggest the opposite - that untruth may in fact be preferable to truth. But that is just what German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche did - and so perhaps the advantages of truth are not as clear-cut as we normally assume.
Pope John Paul II: Short Biography of the Roman Catholic Pope
John Paul II was the second pope to choose two names, following his predecessor. The reason was to both honor John Paul I and to indicate that he would not make any major policy shifts. Wojtyla was also the first non-Italian to be chosen for this office in over 400 years (the previous was Hadrian VI in 1563, a Dutchman), and reports indicate that the election of a non-Italian pope was pushed by the growing influence of Catholics outside of Europe. Thus, Pope John Paul II was elected.
Pope John Paul II: Papal Conservatism & Traditionalism
After Vatican II, many Catholics hoped (or feared) that the Catholic Church would proceed down a path of greater liberalization - but such expectations were not been fulfilled by John Paul II who consistently pushed a very conservative and traditionalist course. Although never he formally repudiatEd the liberalizing decisions made in Vatican II, Pope John Paul II nevertheless focused on limiting them as much as possible and restricting them in practical matters. Page 2.
Pope John Paul II, Capitalism, and Liberation Theology: Economic Justice vs. the Free Market in the West
Most observers are familiar with Pope John Paul II's attacks on communism, but fewer are familiar with the extent to which John Paul has criticized capitalism. Americans seem to assume that capitalism and Christianity go hand-in-hand, but Catholic social teachings have tended towards more socialist ways of doing things because of the way in which they achieve social and economic justice.
Pope John Paul II, Communism, and Freedom of Conscience: Balancing Faith and Repression
Perhaps one of the most significant and memorable features of John Paul IIís papacy was his battle against 'godless' communism. It is likely that he will be known forever as the pope who helped bring about the fall of communism. Much of John Paul's life as a cleric was lived under communist rule in Poland and all the time he rose through the ranks of the Catholic hierarchy, he refused to compromise or accommodate demands made by the communist government.
Pope John Paul II on Contraception and Abortion: Sexual Ethics and Catholic Doctrines
It is arguable that one of the most consistent themes running throughout John Paul II's papacy was his concern with sexual morality: contraception, abortion, divorce, homosexuality, and all of the things that make up what he regularly refers to as the 'culture of death.' These he saw as the cultural consequences of modernity and against which he wished to direct much of the churchís energy.
Pope John Paul II, Parkinsons Disease, and Paranoia: What Happens if the Pope Becomes Psychotic?
Everyone knows that Pope John Paul II suffered from Parkinsonís Disease. It not only caused him to shake uncontrollably, but it also caused him to come close to death more than once. Among the many symptoms of Parkinsonís disease, however, are paranoia and depression. Most people are unaware of these, but their impact on a pope cannot go overlooked.
Popes of the 1st Century: History of the Roman Catholic Papacy and Church
Here is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the first century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church.
Popes of the 2nd Century: History of the Roman Catholic Papacy and Church
Here is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the second century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church.
Popes of the 4th Century: History of the Roman Catholic Papacy and Church
Here is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the fourth century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church.
Popes of the 7th Century, Part 1: History of the Roman Catholic Papacy and Church
Here is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the seventh century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church.
Popes of the 7th Century, part 2: History of the Roman Catholic Papacy and Church
Here is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the seventh century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church. Page 2.
Popes of the 10th Century, Part 1: History of the Roman Catholic Papacy and Church
Here is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the tenth century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church.
Popes of the 10th Century, Part 2: History of the Roman Catholic Papacy and Church
Here is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the tenth century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church. Page 2.
Popes of the 13th Century, Part 1: History of the Roman Catholic Papacy and Church
Here is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the thirteenth century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church.
Popes of the 13th Century, Part 2: History of the Roman Catholic Papacy and Church
Here is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the thirteenth century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church. Page 2.
Popes of the 14th Century: History of the Roman Catholic Papacy and Church
Here is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the fourteenth century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church.
Popes of the 15th Century: History of the Roman Catholic Papacy and Church
Here is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the fifteenth century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church.
Popes of the 16th Century, Part 1: History of the Roman Catholic Papacy and Church
Here is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the sixteenth century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church.
Popes of the 16th Century, Part 2: History of the Roman Catholic Papacy and Church
Here is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the sixteenth century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church. Page 2.
Popes of the 17th Century: History of the Roman Catholic Papacy and Church
Here is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the seventeenth century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church.
Popes of the 19th Century: History of the Roman Catholic Papacy and Church
Here is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the nineteenth century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church.
Popes of the 21st Century: History of the Roman Catholic Papacy and Church
Here is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the twenty-first century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Popes At Avignon: Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy - History of the Papacy
Today the papacy is intimately associated with Rome. The pope does, after all, claim to derive his authority from being the direct successor of the apostle Peter, first bishop of Rome. Despite the fact that the papacy started off in Rome and is today based in Rome, it wasnít always located there. For a time, the popes were based in Avignon, France, commonly known as the 'Babylonian Captivity' of the papacy.
Early Church Administration & Papal Elections: When Popes were Just Bishops - History of the Papacy
Many people imagine that the current structure and administration of the Catholic Church today is very much like it has always been, but that's not the case. Early on, there isnít even evidence of a single bishop of Rome presiding over churches in the city. Although the official lists give the names of several 'popes' during the first decades, it is more likely that they simply presided over a council of elders.
Popes: Longest Pontificates - Roman Catholicism and the Papacy
Here is a list of the 13 longest pontificates in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. Each of these popes reigned over the Catholic Church for an unusually long time. Today some believe that especially long papacies are bad for the Church because they prevent necessary change from happening when it should.
Jones v. Clear Creek School District (1992)
If government officials do not have the authority to write prayers for public school students or even to encourage and endorse prayers, can they allow the students themselves vote on whether or not to have one of their own recite prayers during school? Some Christians tried this method of getting official prayers into public schools and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it's constitutional for students to vote on having prayers during graduation ceremonies.
Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe (2000)
One tactics used by conservative Christians to introduce more official prayers into schools is to get students to vote on prayers. In communities where one sort of Christianity dominates, the outcome of voting can be predicted and defended as the 'private' speech of students. Courts, though, have ruled that prayers done on under the auspices of government supervision, with government approval, and with government equipment, is effectively government speech and thus must be restricted.
Good Friday & Easter - Should Government Observe Good Friday & Easter?
Do state and local laws or policies which create holidays on Good Friday violate the separation of church and state? Is making Good Friday a public or school holiday is unconstitutional, or can there be a secular purpose behind making Good Friday an official holiday? Indeed, is Good Friday still a religious holiday anymore or has it become a secular holiday? Some Christians want government should to make Good Friday an official public holiday, but others are pushing back.
Good Friday & the Law - State of the Law for Good Friday Holidays
Where does the law currently stand with regards to official government observances of the Christian holy days of Good Friday and Easter? What are governments allowed and not allowed to do? What are schools allowed to do and what rights to students have? It's helpful to know the answers to these questions as well as what the case law is because you might confront constitutionally suspect actions by local school boards, school administrations, and city councils.
Religion in a Secular Society: What Place or Role can Religion Have? - There is No Suppression of Religion or Faith in a Secular Society
If secularism opposes the public support of religion or the presence of ecclesiastical authorities simultaneously exercising public authority, what role is left for religion in a secular society? Is religion doomed to a slow decline and attrition? Is it relegated to a web of quaint but unimportant cultural traditions? Such are the fears of opponents to secularism and secularization who argue that religion is too important to be eliminated in such a manner and blame atheists for their woes.
Patrick Henry's Bill Establishing A Provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion
The climax of the conflict between James Madison and Patrick Henry was the 1784-1785 struggle over Henry's Assessment Bill. This tax for the support of religion at first singled out a one sect for preferential treatment, but was later broadened to include all Christian sects. In its final form, the bill allowed each taxpayer to designate which church should receive his share of the tax. In the absence of such a choice, the legislature was authorized to apply it to 'pious uses.'
Jewish Views of the Ten Commandments: Religious Issues in the Ten Commandments
There is a popular perception that the Ten Commandments are 'the commandments' of Jewish religious tradition, but this is mistaken. The Hebrew scriptures contain 613 commandments in addition to these ten. This does not mean, however, that all commandments are equal. Jewish scholars have generally treated the Ten Commandments as basic or ideological foundations to the all the rest.
Should People Follow the Ten Commandments? Judaism, Commandments, and Noahide Laws
In all of the political and cultural debates over the Ten Commandments, one question that receives far too little attention is whether anyone should be expected to adhere to the Ten Commandments in the first place. They are, after all, Jewish laws, so why should any non-Jews bother with them?
Jus In Bello and the Waging of War - Just War Theory
How do Just War theories expect to justify the pursuit of some wars? How can we ever conclude that some particular war may be more moral than another? Although there are some differences in the principles used, we can point to five basic ideas that address whether or not it is just to launch any particular war.
Schopenhauer on Nationalism and Pride: Is Pride in Nation Justified?
Nationalism has been a relatively popular position throughout most of the modern era. Indeed, much of what passes for modernity can be closely associated with the pursuit of nationalist aspirations, nationalist goals, or nationalist principles. And what is nationalism?
God is the Creator & Sustainer of Existence
god theism creator creation ex nihilo deo sustainer existence sustains
God is a Person: Personal Relationships with God
For many people in Western religious traditions, the idea that God is a 'person' is a necessary and fundamental part of their beliefs. Indeed, the very idea that God might not be a person is almost inconceivable for that would render them unable to adequately explain their religious history and their own religious experiences.
Facts vs. Faith - How do Believers Separate Facts from Faith?
Debates about the nature and value of faith occupy a great deal of time in conversations between Christians and atheists - and it's a frequent subject for believers as well. It's not a concept that has been given an especially coherent and straightforward definition, unfortunately, and that's especially serious given just how central 'faith' is to so many religions. How can they insist on the importance of 'faith' unless they can reliably distinguish between faith and non-faith?
The Bible and Heaven: What is Heaven? What Does the Bible Say About Heaven?
Assuming that salvation is necessary, and assuming that you have lived in a way to merit salvation, and/or assuming that anyone at all is saved, the final question becomes: saved for what? Just what is it that all those happily 'saved' people are supposed to get, anyway?
Christian Divorce & Remarriage - Why Do Christians Allow Divorce & Remarriage?
American Christians who are most preoccupied with sexual morality tend focus on homosexuality, pornography, sex before marriage, etc. Except for the Catholic Church, we don't hear much about divorce and remarriage (and even American Catholic leaders don't say much that is covered in the media). Why? Some Christians do argue against divorce, but even they don't claim that remarriage is a sin. According to the Biblical texts, though, it probably is.
Interpreting the Bible - Cultural Context of Biblical Interpretation
There is extensive interaction between religion and culture: religion influences culture while culture influences religion. Most religious believers acknowledge and emphasize the former, but don't recognize the extent of the latter, assuming that their religion is based on revelations from an unchanging divinity about absolute standards of conduct. This prevents them from seeing how their religion is culturally conditioned and thus how they attribute political or economic opinions to their god.
Is Religion Necessary for Morality, Democracy, and Justice?
One common complaint about secularism is that religion and belief in God are prerequisites for morality, justice, and a democratic society. The basic premise here is that the only values which ultimately matter are those which are transcendent, and such values can only be perceived and understood through religious tradition and a connection with the divine.
Is Religion Necessary for Morality? Religion, Morality, and Democracy
Is morality dependent upon the existence of any gods? There is no clear reason why we should believe such a thing. If we assume the existence of a god, even a god who has many of the traditional qualities of classical, philosophical theism, there are no particular moral values which we can derive from that premise. Page 2.
Is Religion Necessary for Democracy? Religion, Morality, and Democracy
Is democracy dependent upon religious beliefs, and specifically Judaism or Christianity? Many Americans appear to believe this very sincerely, but the logic and evidence for it is scanty at best. The best argument offered in favor of it is the idea that these religions teach that all humans are
Are Humans Unable to Establish Morality & Democracy? Religion, Morality, and Democracy
One of the principle arguments used in support of the idea that things like morality and democracy should be based upon God and religion is that these provide reliable sources of transcendental, absolute, and eternal values. Basing morality and democracy on humans, however, is a risky affair because of the relative and temporary nature of our own values. Page 4.
Myth of Rational Agnosticism - Is Agnosticism the Only Rational Position?
It's popular for self-proclaimed agnostics, and more than a few theists who aren't agnostics, to proclaim that agnosticism is more rational and reasonable than atheism. Sometimes agnostics may also include theism as being less rational, but typically atheism is the only target. This reveals the underlying problem: the goal is simply to attack atheism, not to make a case for agnosticism, so both atheism and agnosticism are misrepresented to make the latter look more sensible than the former.
What Is Atheism? Strong vs. Weak Atheism: Definition of Atheism and Atheists Today
What is the definition of atheism? How do atheists define atheism? How do dictionaries, standard and online, define atheism? There is some disagreement about the definition of atheism and it is interesting to note that most of that disagreement comes from theists - atheists themselves tend to agree on what atheism means. Christians in particular dispute the definition used by atheists and insist that atheism means something very different.
How are Atheism & Theism Different? How are Atheism & Theism Similar? Neither Atheism or Theism Mean Much in Isolation
Given the constant debates between atheists and theists, the differences between atheism and theism should be obvious. The truth is that there are so many misconceptions which both sides have about the other that the facts can get lost. The difference is ultimately very simple: theists believe in at least one sort of god. How many gods, the nature of these gods, and why the belief exists is irrelevant to the concept. Atheists lack belief in the existence of any gods external to human minds.
Genetic & Protein Homologies - How Genetic & Protein Homologies Prove Evolution
Biochemical homologies provide some of the strongest evidence for evolution - partly because of the level of detail they provide and partly because the nature of some of the homologies makes any explanation other than evolution seem even more farfetched than with the larger-scale homologies. There are a variety of different avenues of biochemical evidence for evolution, but most of them are either examinations of genetics or of proteins - genetic homologies and protein homologies.
Argument from Consciousness: Does the Human Mind Prove the Existence of God?
According to this argument, neither naturalism nor materialism can give an adequate explanation of mental events like consciousness. Consequently, divine and supernatural explanations are needed to explain why we are conscious and how our brains work.
Teleology and Design: Is there Design in the Universe that Proves God Exists?
Often this is called the Argument from Design because one is arguing from the existence of design and to the conclusion that the design requires God to explain. Instead, what is required is an argument to design - the person attempting to prove a god must first give just cause why anyone should believe that something called
Order, Complexity, and Chaos: Rebuttal to the Argument To Design
One objection to Design Arguments focuses on the premise that the existence of order and/or complexity presupposes the existence of conscious design. It is invalid to infer the existence of a designer from the mere fact of order and regularity in nature - it's just a connection that has been arbitrarily made. In fact, order appears to be an inherent characteristic of the universe itself. Page 2.
Does a God Need a Designer? Rebuttal to the Argument To Design
A common objection to the whole family of design arguments is the fact that any god which would have been able to create the universe would itself have to be rather complex and certainly couldn't be
Design vs. Chance? Rebuttal to the Argument To Design
An important objection to how Design Arguments are usually formulated focuses on a false alternative often presented by theists. According to this argument, if universe has not been created by a master designer then it must be controlled by
Argument from Ignorance: Rebuttal to the Argument To Design
Underlying nearly every design argument, there is the assumption of ignorance about something and the conclusion that since we donít know, then a god must be the proper explanation. Ignored is whether or not an unknown and possibly unknowable god, using unknown and possibly unknowable methods, for unknown and possibly unknowable reasons, can be a rational explanation for anything. Page 5.
Argument from Mysticism: Can Mystics and Mystical Experiences Prove God's Existence?
An important form of the Argument from Religious Experience focuses on the issue of mysticism - it might be called the Argument from Professional Religious Experience. What is claimed is that, throughout time, in various cultures and places, there have existed particular individuals who have somehow had direct, personal experiences with God.
Argument from Mysticism: Recognizing God
One curious issue with the claim that mysticsí experiences of God provide good reasons to believe that God really exists is the question of just how a person can claim to recognize God. What arguments or evidence, without resorting to question begging, can a person use to claim that whatever they experienced is necessarily that of the god they believe in? Page 2.
Passive vs. Aggressive Atheism - Should Atheists Be Passive or Aggressive?
Different atheists have different attitudes towards their atheism and the theism of others. One difference which gets a lot of attention and debate is whether atheists should adopt a
The Last Supper: Contradictions in the Gospel Accounts of the Last Supper of Jesus and his Disciples
There are good reasons why Jesus' 'last supper' with his disciples has been made the subject of so many artistic projects over the centuries: here, at one of the last gatherings attended by all, Jesus delivers instructions not on how to enjoy the meal, but how to remember him once he is gone. Much is communicated in just four verses. Unfortunately, it is difficult to say with any precision what really happened at this supper because the gospel accounts all differ so much.
Quotes on Religion - Stephen Hawking
Freethought Quotations: Stephen Hawking.: stephen hawking a brief history of time brief history of time beginning of the universe expanding universe physical necessity
Quotes on Religion - Dan Barker
Freethought Quotations: Dan Barker.: losing faith in faith compassion and kindness clarity of mind eternal torture biblical god
Quotes on Religion - George Washington
Freethought Quotations: George Washington.: r laurence moore george seldes religious correctness religious controversies secaucus new jersey
Ku Klux Klan
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - Ku Klux Klan
homoiousios vs. homoousios
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - homoiousios vs. homoousios
Index of Forbidden Books (Index of Prohibited Books)
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - Index of Forbidden Books (Index of Prohibited Books)
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - Inductive Argument
free will vs. determinism
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - Free Will vs. Determinism
appearance vs. reality
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - appearance vs. reality
Supreme Court Decisions on Religious Liberty
A wide variety of United States Supreme Court Decisions on Religious Freedom and Liberty, with summaries and analysis.
Supreme Court Decisions: Government and Religious Holidays
Government and Religious Holidays: Can the government fund religious displays during religious holidays? Can the government give employees religious holidays as paid vacation days? Can public schools fund religious holiday programs? Find out what the courts have decided.
Tax Exemptions and Religion: Index of Court Decisions
Tax Exemptions and Religion: Index of Court Decisions. Should religious organizations be exempt from taxation? Should religious groups get tax exemptions not available to other organizations?
Court Decision - Florey v. Sioux Falls School District
Supreme Court Decisions on Religious Freedom and Liberty - summary and analysis of Florey v. Sioux Falls School District. How should public schools deal with religious holidays - can they display religious symbols, play religious music and engage in religious instruction?
History of Buddhism - Timeline
History Buddhism: Timeline of events, people and places BCE.
Timelines of Religious History
Comparative timelines of religious history: chronologies of events, people and places.
Chronology of Medieval Islam, 600 - 900 CE
Chronology of Early Islam (until the end of the European Middle Ages).
agency vs. structure
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - agency vs. structure
Fallacies of Ambiguity: Accent
Logical Fallacies FAQ - Fallacies of Ambiguity explained, with examples: Accent
Sikh Controversies: Conflict with India
Sikh Conflict with India: Sikhs continue to hope for the creation of a Sikh nation (Khalistan), an aspiration which has resulted in violent conflict with the Indian government.
Sikh Gurus: Spiritual Leaders of the Sikh Faith
Sikh Gurus: Spiritual Leaders of the Sikh Faith. There have only been ten human Gurus, starting with Guru Nanak who founded the Sikh religion.
Organization of Religion: Cults, Sects, Denominations, and Churches
Organization of Religion: Cults, Sects, Denominations, and Churches. Different religions have different organizational structures - and understanding how a religion is organized can reveal quite a lot about basic values and beliefs that a religion has.
The Matrix, Religion, and Philosophy: What is the Matrix? Is there a Spoon?
The Matrix, Religion, and Philosophy: What is the Matrix? Many believe that the Matrix movies are religious in nature. Some say it is a Christian movies, some say it is a Buddhist movie, and so on. It is true that they are filled with religious allegories and references to religious themes and stories, but does that make them religious in nature? Maybe they are philosophical in a more general sense.
Connecting Ancient & Modern Religion, Ancient & Modern Gods: Relevance & Importance of Ancient Greek Gods
When people think about Greek religion or mythology, they naturally think about the myriad of Greek gods and goddess - but it is important to remember that none of these divinities can be entirely understood alone. Each is defined in relation to the others and separating one from the rest is like trying to separate a single strand of thread from a blanket. Atheists and theists accustomed to strict monotheistic faiths like Christianity may not realize how integrated the gods of polytheistic belief systems tend to be, much less how aspects of them continue to be reflected even in contemporary religions and deities. Knowledge of both can be very important, though, for anyone attempting a sustained and informed critique of modern religion and modern theism.
Religious Festivals in Greek Religion: Images of Ancient Greek Religion & Mythology
As Greece prospered, so did their religious rituals. Before the 8th century BCE festivals and games were primarily local affairs, but over time wealthier cities began to host larger and larger celebrations that incorporated an ever wider audience.
Greek Sacrificial Rituals: Images of Ancient Greek Religion & Mythology
The principle form of religious form of religious worship that the ancient Greeks participated in were the sacrifices made to the gods. Sacrifices were, in fact, the central event around which festivals, athletics, oracles, and all other worship events were centered.
Columns of Greek Temples: Secular and Religious Meanings - Doric, Ionic, Corinthian Columns and their Meanings
One of the most prominent features of Greek temples is their columns - although columns appear in architecture all around the world, they appear here in an especially significant form. The ancient Greeks constructed their temples along very specific lines, and that included their columns. Over the centuries three different styles (also called Orders) of column were used: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.
Troy Map: Images of Ancient Greek Mythology, Religion, Art
Before 3500 BCE Greece looked like much of the rest of Europe: mud-brick houses and simple painted pottery. Because of Troy, however, the influence of the East began to take hold and a new sort of civilization began to develop, characterized most obviously by stone fortifications on various hilltops...
What is Philosophy of Religion?
Philosophy FAQ: What is Philosophy of Religion? Why do religions exist and what purpose do they serve in human society? Does a god exist - and, if so, what sort of god is it?
Morality of War: Economic Benefits of War
Defending War: Economic Benefits of War. Some have tried to argue that war, as an institution, cannot be eliminated because it provides too many economic benefits. Is war really necessary for industrial, capitalist economies?
Guide to Ethics & Morality: Principles, Problems, and Questions
Guide to Ethics and Morality: Principles, Problems, and Questions. Important questions regarding ethics, morality and social behavior.
Mercy vs. Justice: A Clash of Virtues | What do we do when virtues conflict?
Mercy vs. Justice: A Clash of Virtues. True virtues are not supposed to conflict - but mercy and justice apparently do. Both are certainly virtues, but both also typically demand differents sorts of actions. How do we navigate our way between the different obligations while remaining true to ourselves and truly moral?
Philosophy FAQ: Timeline of Philosophy 1400 - 1699
Philosophy Chronology: Timeline of events involving philosophy and philosophers. Events include those related to the development of philosophy, the publication of philosophical books and various philosophical controversies between the years 1400 - 1699.
Philosophy FAQ: Timeline of Philosophy 1700 - 1799
Philosophy Chronology: Timeline of events involving philosophy and philosophers. Events include those related to the development of philosophy, the publication of philosophical books and various philosophical controversies between the years 1700 - 1799.
Philosophy FAQ: Timeline of Philosophy 1800 - 1899
Philosophy Chronology: Timeline of events involving philosophy and philosophers. Events include those related to the development of philosophy, the publication of philosophical books and various philosophical controversies between the years 1800 - 1899.
Philosophy FAQ: Timeline of Philosophy 1900 - 2003
Philosophy Chronology: Timeline of events involving philosophy and philosophers. Events include those related to the development of philosophy, the publication of philosophical books and various philosophical controversies between the years 1900 - 2003.
Ethics FAQ: Descriptive Ethics, or explaining the moral standards which people say they use, the moral standards which people actually use, and studying how the two differ.
Islam and the Sacred: Sacred Texts, Places, and Times Sacred to Muslims
The Politics of Islam: Mosque, State, and Nationhood. Because Muhammad was both a religious and a political leader, the relationship between politics and religion has always been different in Islam than in Christianity. This has influenced the way nations have developed, the differences between Muslim sects, and the difference betwen mosque and state.
Crusades Image Gallery: Images of Religious Violence, Hatred, Warfare
The Crusades were Christian military and religious expeditions launched both against rival religions (primarily Islam), Jews, and even other Christians. Not only did the Crusades lay the groundwork for medieval Christian society and feudalism, but they also laid the groundwork for contemporary violence between Muslims and Christians. In any substantive criticism of religion and religious violence, the Crusades will naturally play an important role.
Christianity and Violence: Crusades
It is being argued that religion will prevent violence - but what does history tell us? This relationship between Christianity and Islam was horrible scarred by the Christian Crusades, when pious Christians slaughtered Muslim women and children. Unorthodox Christian groups, like the Cathars, suffered as well.
Christianity FAQ: Christian Violence
Christian Violence FAQ: articles explore the Christian history of violence, including the Crusades, the Inquisition, violence between Protestants and Catholics, continuing violence in Northern Ireland, violence towards witches and pagans, the Holocaust and more.
Christianity vs. Islam: Timeline of the Crusades 350 CE - 1800 CE
The Crusades were religious, military, political, and commercial expeditions against both rival religions and rival Christian groups. They helped European society define itself and they laid the groundwork for end of feudalism. The relationship between Christianity and Islam was permanently altered and the Crusades continue through this day to influence how Islam sees the West..
Fifth Crusade 1215 - 1221 - Timeline of the Crusades: Christianity vs. Islam
Called in 1217, only Leopold VI of Austria and Andrew II of Hungary participated in the Fifth Crusade. They captured the city of Damietta, but after their devastating loss at the Battle of al-Mansura they were forced to return it. Ironically, before their defeat they were offered control of Jerusalem and other Christian sites in Palestine in exchange for the return of Damietta, but Cardinal Pelagius refused and turned a potential victory into a stunning defeat.
Sixth Crusade 1222 - 1244 - Timeline of the Crusades: Christianity vs. Islam
Launched in 1228, the Sixth Crusade achieved some small measure of success - though not by military might. It was led by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, King of Jerusalem through his marriage to Yolanda, daughter of John of Brienne, King of Jerusalem. Frederick had promised to participate in the Fifth Crusade but failed to do so, thus he was under a great deal of pressure to do something substantive this time. This Crusade ended with a peace treaty granting Christians control of several important holy sites, including Jerusalem.
Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Crusades 1245 - 1300: Timeline of the Crusades, Christianity vs. Islam
Led by King Louis IX of France, the Seventh and Eighth Crusades were complete failures. Led by King Edward I of England in 1271 who tried to join Louis in Tunis, the Ninth Crusade would fail in the end. Edward arrived after Louis had died and moved against the Mamluk sultan Baibers.
Christian Chronology: Timeline of Medieval Christianity 800 CE - 1100 CE
When do Christians believe that Paul was beheaded? When might St. Thomas have visited India? When did Origen and Jerome write their versions of the Bible? When did Constantine issue the Edict of Milan? When did St. Augustine die? These are all important dates in the history of Christianity; not only are they presented here in this timeline, but they are presented in historical and religious context.
Christian Chronology: Timeline of Medieval Christianity 1200 CE - 1300 CE
When do Christians believe that Paul was beheaded? When might St. Thomas have visited India? When did Origen and Jerome write their versions of the Bible? When did Constantine issue the Edict of Milan? When did St. Augustine die? These are all important dates in the history of Christianity; not only are they presented here in this timeline, but they are presented in historical and religious context.
Christian Chronology: Timeline of Medieval Christianity 1400 CE - 1500 CE
When do Christians believe that Paul was beheaded? When might St. Thomas have visited India? When did Origen and Jerome write their versions of the Bible? When did Constantine issue the Edict of Milan? When did St. Augustine die? These are all important dates in the history of Christianity; not only are they presented here in this timeline, but they are presented in historical and religious context.
Questions about Atheism and Atheists: Atheist Beliefs
Questions about Atheism and Atheists: Atheist Beliefs. What do atheists believe and why? Are atheists just going through a phase? Do athiests really believe in nothing at all?
Does God Exist? Arguing for and against Gods
Arguing for and against Gods: what are some basic arguments for and against the existence of gods? How sound are they?
Islam and Muslims: Alawis
Alawis descend from the Muslim religious tradition, but most Muslims no longer regard them as Muslim today.
Basic Muslim Beliefs: Muslim Beliefs in Submission to God, Purity, Monotheism -
There are a number of beliefs which go beyond the Five Pillars, or which are logically dependent upon the Five Pillars.
What is Islam? In Islam, Peace is Based on Submission & Surrender to God - But Peace and Justice Cannot Exist on the Basis of Submission & Surrender
Islam isn't just a title or name of a religion, it's also a word in Arabic which is rich in meaning and has many connections to other fundamental Islamic concepts. Understanding the concept of 'Islam,' or 'submission,' is critical to understanding the religion which derives its name from it - not only can it make critiques of Islam better informed, but there are in fact good reasons to critique and question Islam on the basis of the concept of submission to an authoritarian god.
Escape from the Watchtower Society: Are the Jehovahs Witnesses a Cult?
Unfortunately, the label 'cult' gets thrown around an awful lot -- its use actually leads to an end to discussion because of all of the baggage it brings along. This is especially true when we get to claims about 'cultic mind control,' which involve the idea that cults possess near-supernatural powers that allow them to override both people's ability to think logically and their free will which would otherwise allow them to leave the group. Page 2.
Beyond the Veil: Fear of Women in Islam
Why are women feared? Although sex itself might not be inherently sinful, uncontrolled sexuality is regarded as destabilizing to the community - and female sexuality is regarded as the most dangerous. The Arabic word fitna means disorder or chaos, but it can also refer to a beautiful woman, thus demonstrating a link between women and instability. Page 2.
Book Review - Debating the Death Penalty: Should America Have Capital Punishment?, edited by Hugo Adam Bedau and Paul Cassell
Debates about the death penalty sometimes take a back seat to those over matters such as abortion, but they don't really end and they rarely seem to arrive at any sort of conclusion. This probably shouldn't be a surprise - capital punishment has been in regular use in the West for thousands of years, and no one started to question it in a serious and systematic manner until just a couple of centuries ago. Page 2.
Book Review - Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America, by Michael O. Emerson, Christian Smith
Both religion and race have played important - and sometimes deeply interconnected - roles in American history. Religion was used to justify both slavery and abolition; likewise it was used to justify both segregation and desegregation. Today even conservative Christians support equality between the races, but that doesnít mean that everything is settled or peaceful. In truth, evangelical Christianity continues to reinforce racial divides. Page 2.
Fire and Roses: The Burning of the Charlestown Convent - When Protestants Attack
Reports indicate that plans for an attack on Mount Benedict were in progress for a while, but it all came to a head on August 11, 1834, when a large mob converged on the convent. They broke through the front gate, destroyed artwork and expensive musical instruments, burned the bishopís collection of books, and ransacked the building before burning it to the ground. Then they returned the next night to destroy the impressive gardens. Page 2.
The First Crusade: A New History - Crusades & Modernity
Asbridge never explicitly connects the events of the Crusades with those of more recent history -- that he leaves to the reader -- but some of the connections are obvious. There is, for example, the parallel between the 'foreign' ideology of the Crusaders and the similarly incomprehensible ideology of Muslims suicide bombers. Page 2.
Flat Broke With Children: Family Values vs. Work Values
On the one hand our welfare laws reflect a commitment to 'family values' - for example, there are enticements for marriage and penalties for unwed childbearing. On the other hand, our welfare laws assume that the poor donít have a good work ethic and so push single mothers out of the home and into any dead-end, low-paying job that they can find. Page 2.
Book Review - Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror. by Mahmood Mamdani
The American government says that we are engaged in a war against terrorism, not a war against Islam. Of course, all of he terrorists being targeted happen to be Muslim, leading to the attempted distinction between 'good Muslims' and 'bad Muslims.' Upon what is this distinction based, and is it a valid way of viewing the Middle East? Page 2.
The Divine in Hinduism
Particularly interesting for many readers will be the discussion about the nature of the divine in Hinduism. Are Hindus monotheistic or polytheistic? Thatís not such an easy question to answer. Most Hindus will describe themselves as monotheists who worship various aspects of the divine rather than various divinities. Outsiders, though, will perceive Hindusí worship activities as indistinguishable from traditional polytheistic faiths. Page 2.
Werent the Nazis Pagans? The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945, by Richard Steigmann-Gall
Alongside the Christian Nazis were a number of anti-Christian Nazis who sought to create a new, neo-pagan religion for the German people. These were, however, relatively few in number and their views were never officially endorsed by the Party or by Hitler. Slightly more common were anti-clerical Nazis who continued to accept basic theistic and Christian doctrines, but who repudiated churches and priests. This seems to have been a view gradually adopted by Hitler himself. Page 2.
Myth of a Free Press: News and Profits in the Modern Media
In addition to the disinclination to investigate the corporate masters, discussed above, there is also the fact that news departments which are part of a vast conglomerate are expected to be as profitable as other sections of the company. Thus, news is not treated as a public service but rather as a means to generate money -- and entertainment which attracts advertisers and audiences is seen as the means to achieve that end. Page 2.
Psychology of the Psychic: Why Do People Believe in the Paranormal?
There is, of course, no simple explanation for why a great variety of people believe parapsychological claims, but one of the chief reasons people believe in psychic phenomena is not because of experiments which purport to show something statistically significant - these research results only serve to bolster beliefs which already exist. People's beliefs are instead based upon their own personal experiences. Page 2.
Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America's Perilous Path in the Middle East, by Rashid Khalidi
America isn't the first Western nation to enter the Middle East, attempting to transform its politics and social institutions for ostensibly good reasons. Although most Americans realize this in the abstract, they are unaware of the details and consequences of earlier excursions. This is unfortunate because those excursions not only failed, but are partially responsible for the problems we see today. Page 2.
Book Review - The Supreme Court, by William H. Rehnquist
Just what is the Supreme Court - what does it do, how does it work and what role does it play in American society? Considering how the Supreme Court has shaped both political and social life in the United States, these are very serous questions. Understanding the Supreme Court's role in America is vital to understanding America itself. Page 2.
Book Review - Science, Money, and Politics: Political Triumph and Ethical Erosion. by Daniel S. Greenberg.
Science, Money, and Politics: Scientific research consumes billions of taxpayer dollars each year. Ideally, this money would be allocated based upon which research projects are the most promising and beneficial. Ideally, allocation would be a matter of science, not politics. But is that how things actually are? Page 2.
Book Review - The Palestine-Israeli Conflict: A Beginner's Guide, by Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Dawoud El-Alami
Few people are unaware of the violence which is currently plaguing the Middle East today, especially the violence which keeps occurring between Israelis and Palestinians. At times, it threatens to engulf not only the surrounding nations, but the rest of the world as well. Yet why is this happening - what are the causes, and are there any solutions? Page 2.
Book Review - Preacher: Billy Sunday and Big-Time American Evangelism, by Roger A. Bruns
When televangelists came upon the American scene in the 1980s, they had an enormous impact upon not only American culture, but also upon the wider public perception of Christianity. This was not, however, the fist time religion appeared on television, but it was the beginning of evangelistic revivalism broadcast across the nation and around the world. Even so, neither their methods nor their acts were original - they can in large part be traced back to Billy Sunday. Page 2.
Book Review - The Trouble with Islam: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith, by Irshad Manji
Is there something wrong with Islam today? Many people think so - including not a few Muslims. Not too long ago criticisms of Islam would not have been well tolerated, even coming from outsiders; but in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, we have seen a small wave of books by Muslims who are reexamining their faith and asking others to do so as well. Page 2.
Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code - History: Errors and Truth
Particularly disappointing is the fact that many of the inaccuracies in Dan Brownís book simply werenít necessary. A bit more historical research and he would have been able to correct most of them without compromising the story a bit. At the same time, though, addressing these errors allows Bart Ehrman to explain the nature of doing historiography and whatís involved in historical research. Page 2.
Book Review - Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade, by James Reston
If you read this book like a novel or melodrama and set aside any expectation of learning history, youíll probably enjoy it. If you keep in mind that some of the book is historically accurate but most is tainted by an unacknowledged bias and that there are different (not to mention sometimes better) interpretations of nearly everything, youíll probably learn a few things and will, perhaps, be inspired to seek out sources that are better. Page 2.
Book Review - Women and the Conquest of California, 1542-1840: Codes of Silence, by Virginia Marie Bouvier
A significant aspect of the friarís efforts to control the natives and impose Christianity on them involved attempts to control their sexuality and impose upon them new standards of love, sex, and marriage. In many ways, the two efforts were seen as identical: if the pagan natives could be made to abandon their licentious attitudes towards sexuality and marriage, then the adoption of chaste and moral Christianity would be almost automatic - or at least far easier. Page 2.
Christians on Hitler & Nazis: Quotes from Christians Supporting Hitler - German Catholics & Protestants Praised, Supported Hitler as a Gift from God
American Christians seem to be completely unaware of the degree to which Christians in Germany threw their support behind Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. If they did, they might be less likely to pretend that the crimes of Hitler and the Nazis can be traced to atheism or secularism.
Einstein's Criticisms of Religions: Einstein was Very Critical of Religion - Albert Einstein Rejected Much from Traditional Theistic Religions
Albert Einstein used the word 'religion' frequently in his writings to describe his feelings towards scientific work and the cosmos, but he really didn't mean what is traditionally thought of as 'religion.' In fact, Albert Einstein had a lot of sharp criticisms for the beliefs, history, and authorities behind traditional theistic religions. Einstein didn't just reject belief in traditional gods, he rejected the traditional religious structures built around theism and supernatural belief.
Freethought Poster: Beauty Doesn't Need a Miracle (Inspirational Posters on Freethought, Skepticism, Atheism)
It's common for religious theists to claim that the beauty around us is evidence of the existence of their god. Some may even go so far as to say that this evidence is so
Scientology's Critics Say that Scientology uses Dirty Tricks Against Critics - What Sorts of Dirty Tricks Does Scientology Use?
A major criticism of Scientology's activities made by the Anonymous protests is the allegation that Scientology engages in 'dirty tricks' - attempts to smear, discredit, or otherwise undermine their critics. Rather than actually address the criticisms which are made against them, it is alleged that the Church of Scientology hires people to attack the critics as persons in order to prevent the criticisms from being taken seriously - or even to so damage critics that they shut up. Page 3.
Scientology's Copyright & Trademark Lawsuits - Suppression of Criticism? Critics Alleges that Scientology Misuse the Courts to Suppress Critics
A common reaction which the Church of Scientology has towards critics is to bring copyright and trademark lawsuits against those who quote much from Scientology material or use Scientology images. Even people who quote relatively short passages from Scientology texts have been sued on the argument that this information qualifies as
Scientologists say that Scientology Works, but How Can Scientology Work? There is No Evidence or Research that Scientology Works or is Effective
Most religions tend to promote their doctrines on the basis of the claim that they are 'true' (it's true that God exists, the Jesus died and rose from the dead, that Muhammad was the prophet of God, etc.), but Scientology usually focuses more on the claim that it 'works.' Of course, something that works may sound like it must also be true, but something that is false might appear to work if you don't really understand what's going on. That seems to be the case with Scientology.. Page 9.
Saint James (the Lesser) the Apostle: Why Was St. James 'Less'? Was James the Apostle Martyred in Egypt?
Christian tradition says that James the Lesser was martyred in Egypt; specifically, that he was crucified for having violated the Torah despite having been one of the apostles who tended to stick most closely to traditional Jewish laws. This is an implausible story because Jews sentencing someone to death would have used stoning; crucifixion was a Roman method of execution and they wouldn't have cared about some random religious person violating a Jewish religious law. Page 8.
Beware the Dangers of Christmas: Women Must Protect their Children from the Dangers in the Christmas Holidays
Is there anything dangerous about Christmas? Perhaps. Most Christians and even most non-Christians regard Christmas as being at least innocuous if not a positive good. This is not a universally shared opinion, though. There are people who are critical of Christmas, arguing that it has more negative aspects than positive ones -- or even that there's nothing especially positive about it at all. Page 14.
Boycott Christmas & Go To Work: Corporate Culture Benefits When We All Work and Ignore Religious Holidays
This image is is based on a World War II poster depicting Uncle Sam rolling up his sleeve and going to work for the sake of the war effort. Here he's getting to work while ignoring Christmas because corporation all need us to work long hours. There are growing numbers of non-Christians who refuse to have anything to do with the holiday, even in a secular nature. They don't exchange gifts, they don't put up decorations, and they even go to work if it's a normal work day. Page 9.