Agnosticism & Atheism Sitemap - Page 3 2016-09-26

Elijah Confronts Jezebel & Ahab Over Baal Worship: Phoenician Religion and Culture Corrupted Israelite Monotheism and Religion
King Ithobaal I (887-856) of Tyre is best known as the father of Jezebel whom he gave as a wife to king Ahab (874-853) in order to secure stronger trading ties with the Israelite kingdom based now in Samaria. As mother of Ahab's successor, Ahaziah, Jezebel would prove to be an important cultural influence in the Israelite court. Jezebel is portrayed as having introduced Phoenician cultural and religious practices like worship of the Phoenician and Canaanite god Baal. Page 7.

Josiah's Violent Reforms: King Josiah Kills the Priests of Baal and Destroys the Temples of Baal
As much as traditionalists complained, Baal worship not only survived among the Israelites but thrived. The prophet Hosea, writing a hundred yeas after Jezebel came to Jerusalem, is bitter over of the faithlessness of the Hebrews and predicted doom for them. It is not until the reign of Josiah, another hundred years later in the mid-7th century BCE that organized efforts to eradicate worship of Baal are undertaken. Page 8.

Religious, Cultural Continuity of Near Eastern Nations: Map of the Eastern Mediterranean Coast
This map of the Eastern Mediterranean coast doesn't have any national boundaries marked on it, but it does show the locations of the major cities and thus reveals how close they all really are. Beirut, Sidon, Tyre, Baalbek, Damascus, Acre, Haifa, Jericho, Jerusalem, and Amman are all within relatively short distances of each other. Page 2.

Continuity of Modern Lebanon & Ancient Phoenicia: Map & Flag of Modern Lebanon Showing Continuity of Ancient Sites with Modern Cities
This map of modern Lebanon reveals some of the continuity between ancient Phoenicia and the modern Lebanese state. The northern-most Phoenician city-state was Arvad, just a bit beyond the northern borders of Lebanon; the southern-most Phoenician city-state was Akko, known today as Acre, and it lies just inside the Israeli border. The boundaries of ancient Phoenicia thus looked like a slightly extended version of modern Lebanon.

Mesha Stele: King Mesha of Moab Explains His Rebellion Against the Israelites
Discovered in 1868 near Dhiban, Jordan, and written around 850 BCE, this inscription gives the 'other side' of the story from 2 Kings when the Israelites supposedly defeated the Moabites. The text on the stele is Moabite and is the oldest Phoenician alphabet on record. It's also basically the same as early Hebrew, which suggests that the Moabites and the Israelites were far more similar culturally than the Bible lets on. Page 9.

Religious Divisions & Diversity in Modern Lebanon: Lebanon Today is a Product of Ancient Phoenician and Canaanite History
Today Lebanon is one of the most religiously complex nations in the Middle East. It is of course dominated by Muslims at 70% of the population, but even they are divided into 5 different groups: Alawite or Nusayri, Druze, Isma'ilite, Shi'a, Sunni. The remaining 30% are almost all Christian and they are divided into 11 formally recognized groups: 4 Orthodox Christian, 6 Catholic, 1 Protestant. Page 20.

Phoenician Alphabet: Language, Writing, Alphabets Reveal Cultural Continuity in the Near East
In the above image, just a piece of a larger chart, standard Egyptian hieroglyphs appear to the left and next to them is Hieratic, a cursive script derived from the hieroglyphs. Next to that is Phoenician, itself already well developed from an earlier alphabet known as Proto-Canaanite. The similarities between Phoenician and Hieratic are clear; Proto-Canaanite, which doesn't appear in this chart, is usually a clear middle point between them. Page 3.

Phoenician and Major Middle Eastern Empires: Phoenician Cities Were Constantly Under Threat
This map depicts the growth of the Assyrian empire from the 9th century BCE to its fall to the Babylonians in 612 BCE. Although the Assyrians started small, like other political entities in the region, their desire to simply neutralize external threats soon led them to acquire control over vast amounts of territory, including the Phoenician city-states. After the Assyrian empire fell, the Babylonians controlled the Phoenician coast; after them, it was the Persians and then later the Greeks. Page 6.

Phoenician Ritual Sacrifices: Sacrificing Innocent Children for the Sins of the Community in Phoenician Religion
Ritual sacrifices, often connected to festivals surrounding a dying and resurrecting god, were important in Phoenician religion. Sacrifices of vegetable and animals were most common, but human sacrifices occurred in times of difficulty. Sacrifice and consumption of pigs, however, was taboo. The preferred human sacrifice was an innocent child who, as a vicarious victim, represented the most extreme act of propitiation possible and was intended to guaranteed the future of the entire community. Page 5.

Phoenician Colonization and Trade Routes: Trade Routes, Colonies, and Cities Founded by Phoenician Traders all around the Mediterranean
The major difference between the Phoenicians and the Canaanites appears to be the former's emphasis on sea trade and expansion over the Mediterranean. What might account for this cultural and political branching? No one is sure, but the most plausible explanation is that in the north, inland expansion was seriously impeded by the Lebanon Mountain range - the distance between these mountains and the coast is only 60 km at its widest. Page 4.

Phoenician Tombs of Arvad: Did the Phoenicians Believe in an Afterlife?
Did the ancient Phoenicians believe in an afterlife? Some evidence suggests that they did; some that they didn't. Royal tombs, like those illustrated above near the ancient site of Arvad, and royal coffins typically had inscriptions which offered all kinds of curses for anyone who disturbed the rest of the person interred there. Page 13.

Phoenicians, Canaanites, Israelites: What Were the Commercial, Cultural, and Religious Similarities?
The breadth and depth of the cultural and religious ties between ancient Phoenician and ancient Israel is a subject of great debate. There is strong evidence for extensive commercial ties, especially during the reign of Solomon, and the linguistic connections demonstrated through both language and alphabets are intriguing. Biblical texts point to some curious evidence because Israelite prophets spend a lot of time complaining about how the people are falling away from worship of Yahweh. Page 10.

Sarcophagus of King Ahiram of Byblos: Funeral Rites & Burial Among the Ancient Phoenicians
The above photo is of the sarcophagus of Ahiram, king of Byblos around 1250 BCE. On this sarcophagus is a 22-consonant alphabetic script which is an important example of early Phoenician writing. It states, in part: 'This coffin was made by Ithobaal, the son of Ahiram, King of Byplos, as the eternal resting place for his father. If any ruler or governor or general attacks Byblos and touches this coffin, his sceptre will be broken.'. Page 14.

Tower of Lions in Tripoli, Lebanon
At one time, Tripoli was the center of a confederation of Phoenician city-states - Tyre, Sidon, and Arados - thus the name 'Tripoli,' which means 'triple city.' Today Tripoli is Lebanon's second-largest city as well as its second-largest port, behind Beirut in both respects. Page 18.

Photos & Images of Religion in Ancient Phoenicia
Lebanon is often in the news today in the context of political and religious conflicts throughout the region. Not everyone is aware, however, of the fact that this same area has played an important role in the region's religious and cultural history - or of how often this strip of land has been involved in the region's religious and political conflicts. Perhaps the connections would be clearer if people also realized that modern Lebanon occupies much the same area of land as ancient Phoenicia.

Photos & Images of Religion in Ancient Phoenicia
Lebanon is often in the news today in the context of political and religious conflicts throughout the region. Not everyone is aware, however, of the fact that this same area has played an important role in the region's religious and cultural history - or of how often this strip of land has been involved in the region's religious and political conflicts. Perhaps the connections would be clearer if people also realized that modern Lebanon occupies much the same area of land as ancient Phoenicia.

Best Atheist Ad - Readers' Choice for Favorite Agnostic / Atheist Ad of 2011
Readers picked 'You don't need God - to hope, to care, to love, to live' from the Center for Inquiry as their Favorite Atheist Ad of 2011. This ad part of a wider multi-media outreach campaign to help people across the country understand that living a fulfilling life doesn't require any gods or any religion. Since the belief that gods and religion are necessary for happiness is a common misperception, this is an important message to get out.

Best Atheist Website - Readers' Choice for Favorite Agnostic / Atheist Website of 2011
Readers picked The Thinking Atheist as their Favorite Atheist Web Site of 2011. Created by someone who is not just a former Christian, but also a former religious broadcaster, The Thinking Atheist is the product of many years of questioning, researching, and of course thinking.

Best Online Atheist Community - Readers' Choice for Favorite Online Agnostic / Atheist Community of 2011
Readers picked r/atheism @ Reddit as the Favorite Atheist Forum of 2011. Reddit and its sub-reddits may not a traditional forum format or look quite like a 'community' if one is accustomed to social networking sites, but it serves the same functions as both: it provides a space for conversations like a forum and it has a strong, vibrant community of atheists, agnostics, secularists, and freethinkers.

Readers' Choice for Favorite Agnostic / Atheist to Follow on Twitter of 2011
Readers picked Ricky Gervais as the Best Atheist to Follow on Twitter of 2011. This is the first time an international celebrity has been a finalist for this category and while he doesn't tweet exclusively about atheism and atheist-related issues, he does do so somewhat regularly and he does speak out about atheism and related issues often enough.

Best Atheist Resources of 2011 - Agnosticism/Atheism Readers' Choice Awards for 2012
About.com created the Readers' Choice Awards to help Guides showcase the best products, features and services in multiple categories, from technology to hobbies to parenting. On this Agnosticism / Atheism site, the Readers' Choice Awards are designed to showcase the best resources available out there for agnostics, atheists, freethinkers, secularists, and skeptics.

Best Atheist Book - Readers' Choice for Favorite Agnostic / Atheist Book of 2011
Readers picked Richard Dawkins' most recent book The Magic of Reality as their favorite agnostic / atheist book of 2011. Richard Dawkins has written a lot of books which have been very poplar with atheists, so it's no surprise that this one would be popular as well. But this is a different sort of book.

Best Atheist Blog - Readers' Choice for Favorite Agnostic / Atheist Blog of 2011
Readers picked Pharyngula as the Best Atheist Blog of 2011. This is the second year in a row... sort of. Technically it is the new Pharyngula that has won this year and the old Pharyngula that won last year - and the old Pharyngula still exists, too.

Best Atheist Podcast - Readers' Choice for Favorite Agnostic / Atheist Podcast of 2011
Readers picked The Atheist Experience as the Favorite Atheist Podcast of 2011. This is the second year in a row that The Atheist Experience has won and they won this year with a larger percentage of the vote than they did last year.

Best Atheist Facebook Page - Readers' Choice for Favorite Agnostic / Atheist Facebook Page of 2011
Readers picked The Thinking Atheist as their Favorite Atheist Facebook Page of 2011. Given how many people

Attacks on Atheism: Analysis and Critiques of Attacks on Atheism, Atheists, Freethought, Secularism, and Reason
It isn't too hard to find people attack or criticizing atheism and atheists. There are websites devoted to it, people who write columns about it, and you can even find them in letters to the editor of different newspapers. Very little of what you read there is justified. Occasionally, someone will make comments which fairly apply to some atheists, but it is very unusual to find attacks which fairly apply to all atheists or to atheism in general. Here you can find responses and rebuttals to some of these attacks.

Quotes From Author Ayn Rand on Religion
Although author Ayn Rand was a staunch atheist, she often spoke on the topic of religion. Learn more about her views on faith with these quotes.

Cloning
Selected and annotated links on Cloning - science, controversy, animal cloning, human cloning, humor, and more.

Bioethics: Ethics and Morality of Medicine and Biology
The intersection of medical technology, medical practice, and ethical principles is an important field of study, but the rapid advance of medical technology has made it perhaps the most important field of ethics today. Bioethics concerns some of the most troubling topics, like the nature of life, the nature of death, and what sort of life is worth living.

Everson v. Board of Education - Religious Liberty
Supreme court decision Everson v. Board of Education influenced rights on religious freedom.

How Griswold v. Connecticut Influenced Laws on Privacy
Do people have a right to privacy when it comes to buying, learning about, and using contraception? Learn about the Griswold v. Connecticut.

How the Science of Cloning Has Developed Over Time
Learn how the science of cloning has developed over time with this historical timeline.

Atheism: Types of Ethical Systems
Types of Ethical Systems. Agnosticism & Atheism.

Secularism 101 - History, Nature, and Importance
Secularism is largely responsible for defining the modern West, for good or for ill. Understanding secularism is thus critical for understanding the West today.

Tax Laws and Exemptions for Churches
Like with charities, churches and other religious organizations have several types of tax exemptions available, differing in their effects and justification.

How to Get Excommunicated From the Catholic Church
Many ex-Catholics are technically Catholic, at least according to the Catholic Church. Permanently changing that requires getting excommunicated. But how?

What Is the Scientific Method?
Science is defined by the scientific method, which is itself a formalized process of common sense that everyone uses all the time. Or they should, at least.

Myths: Atheism & Atheists are More Violent than Religion & Theism - More People Have Been Killed in the Name of Atheism & Secularism than Religion
A common criticism which atheists raise against religion is how violent religion and religious believers have been in the past. People have slaughtered each other in large numbers either because of differences in religious beliefs or because of other differences which are further justified and intensified through religious rhetoric. Either way, religion has a lot of blood on its hands. Can the same be said for atheists and atheism? Haven't atheists killed more people in the name of atheism?

What Is Epistemology? Philosophy of Truth, Knowledge, Belief
Epistemology is the study of the nature of knowledge and how we acquire it. Most debates between atheists and theists are ultimately epistemological disagreements.

Hitler Killed Millions in the Name of Atheism?
Many believe Hitler and the Nazis killed millions in the name of atheism and secularism, but the truth is they denounced both while endorsing traditional religion.

What Is Deontology, Deontological Ethics?
Deontological morality is defined by obedience to a set of independent moral rules. The most common are systems where the rules are established by some god.

Moral and Social Arguments for Gay Marriage
There are many reasons to believe that everyone and society as a whole will be better off now that gay marriage is legal, contrary to the dire predictions of critics.

Theisms: Monotheism, Polytheism, Deism and More
There are many forms of theism, from believing in one god to believing in many gods. They aren't all the same, and can't be critiqued in the same way.

Are There Non-Religious Wedding Options for Atheists?
With the growth of those who identify as non-religious, there has been a growth of non-religious wedding options for those uninterested in church ceremonies.

Introduction to Theism - Definition of Atheism Terms
Theism is a lot simpler than most realize: it's just the belief in the existence of at least one god of some sort. It's not a religion or a belief system.

Virtue Ethics: Morality and Character
Virtue ethics focuses on the development of sound moral character rather than moral rules. It's believed that having a virtuous character leads to virtuous decisions.

The Ten Commandments: Background and Meanings
People think they know the Ten Commandments, but not only can't people even list them, but most can't explain what they mean or how they should be applied.

What is Humanism? What is Humanist Philosophy?
Humanism isn't exactly a philosophy or a belief system, it's more an attitude which puts the needs, concerns, and values of humans first and foremost.

How Many Were Killed by Communists in the Name of Atheism?
Many have argued that more people have been killed in the name of atheism than of any religion, but that misrepresents the true reason why people have been targeted.

The First Commandment - Analysis and Interpretations
The first commandment seems like it should be simple and easy, but it's not. Not all even agree on what it is, exactly, never mind how to obey it.

Lord, Liar, or Lunatic: C.S. Lewis and the Jesus Trilemma
C.S. Lewis' argument for Jesus being Christ - known as 'Lord, Liar, or Lunatic' - is an argument that's riddled with flaws and fallacies, though few see it.

Ethics and Morality - An Atheist vs. Theist View
You can't debate the nature of morality or even specific moral issues unless you understand what sorts of disagreements can exist and how to address them.

What Is the Separation of Church and State?
The principle of separating church and state is the separation of religious and political power. This prevents abuses from both sides and protects everyone.

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Abortion & Contraception Rights: Privacy, Ethics, Religion, Politics of the Abortion, Contraception Debates
Abortion is a contentious issue in American society. Some regard it as an immoral abomination while others regard it as fundamental to reproductive liberty and privacy. Contraception is starting to be treated in a similar manner. Is there a fundamental right to abortion? Is there a right to privacy that protects contraception and use of contraceptives?

When Was the Gospel According to Mark Written?
Scholars conclude that Mark was written during the war between Rome and the Jews (66-74). Most early dates for Mark fall around 65 CE and most late dates fall around 75 CE.

Arguments Against Gay Marriage: It Is Unnatural
The idea that gay marriage is wrong because gay couples are somehow unnatural is not often stated openly, but this premise influences other arguments.

University Study on American Attitudes Towards Atheists
Every study shows that atheists are more distrusted and despised than any other minority in America. Atheists seem to represent everything Americans fear about modernity.

Jesus Cleanses the Temple (Mark 11:15-19) - Analysis
After cursing the fig tree, Jesus reenters Jerusalem where he cleanses the Temple of moneychangers. Why? What did he accomplish?

Religious Traditions on the Morality of Abortion
Not all religious traditions condemn abortion, and those that do don't condemn it in every situation. Religious positions on the morality of abortion are much more varied.

What is God? Definitions, Characteristics, and Attributes of God
When a theist claims that a god exists, one of the first questions atheists should ask is

Tenth Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Covet Analysis
What does it mean to 'covet'? Is it the same as stealing? Why is it wrong to covet someone's wife, but not their husband? How does one follow the Tenth Commandment?

God is Transcendent and Immanent? How is that Possible?
Is God supposed to be immanent or transcendent? God can't be both, because the two characteristics contradict each other.

What if Atheists are Wrong? Is Atheism a Bad Bet?
Many associate atheism with anti-social and even criminal behavior, but such assertions are usually little more than that.

How to Talk to, Debate Theists: Ways Atheists Can Avoid Common Errors
It's common for atheists to debate theists, or at least just discuss religion and theism with religious believers, but even so there are many mistakes atheists can and do make in the process. Some are easier to avoid than others, but if you really want a productive and substantive conversation it's important to watch out for all of them. You should familiarize yourself with basic logical fallacies, learn to be patient, be prepared to support your claims, and know when it's time to quit.

Do Godless Morals and Values Exist?
The general attitude is that any religious morality is preferable to a secular morality; there are many reasons to think that this viewpoint is false.

Similarities Between the Christian God and Abusive Spouses
It's common for Christians to compare the relationship between humanity and God to that between husband and wife. God is the

Secularism as a Humanistic, Atheistic Philosophy
Although secularism can certainly be understood as simply the absence of religion, it is also often treated as a philosophical system with personal, political, cultural, and social implications. Secularism as a philosophy must be treated a bit differently than secularism as a mere idea, but just what sort of philosophy can secularism be? For those who treated secularism as a philosophy, it was a humanistic and even atheistic philosophy that sought the good of humanity in this life.

Violence and Justice: Religious Violence as a Means for Achieving Justice
It's often said that violence doesn't achieve anything, but if that's true why do so many people use violence in order to achieve various goals? To be more specific, it appears that even when violence is being employed senselessly, more often than not that those employing it are doing so because they think it is as justified means for achieving some specific goal: justice. If we understand why people engage in violence, we have a better chance of preventing it.

Myth: Atheists Can't Teach Right & Wrong to Kids
There is a popular but mistaken perception among religious theists that irreligious atheists have no good reason to be moral and, therefore, cannot be as moral as religious theists. Usually this misunderstanding is expressed as an abstract principle, removed from practical consequences; here, however, we have a myth that is just such a practical application of that misunderstanding. It's also completely untrue: atheists do not have trouble teaching morality to their children.

Defining Secularism: George Jacob Holyoake Coined the Term Secularism
The term secularism was created in 1846 by George Jacob Holyoake to describe 'a form of opinion which concerns itself only with questions, the issues of which can be tested by the experience of this life' (English Secularism, 60). Holyoake was a leader of the English secularist and freethought movement who became famous for his conviction under, and larger fight against, English blasphemy laws. For Holyoake, secularism was a humanist philosophy focused on the needs of people in this life.

Are Atheists all Cynical? Do Atheists Disbelieve Everything They Hear?
It's not common for atheists to be openly described as cynical, or at least inherently cynical, but this seem to be a common attitude which people have about atheists. When atheists appear on TV or in the movies, it's pretty normal for them to be cynical, broken people who have

Myth: Atheists are Intolerant for Criticizing Religion, Theism
There are several myths here, all tightly intertwined for the apparent purpose of getting atheists to cease making uncomfortable and unwelcome criticisms of religion and theism. Religious believers, mostly Christians, are responding to atheistic critiques of religion by claiming that vocal, unapologetic atheists are analogous to religious terrorists and that criticism of religion is a form of religious intolerance. The implication is that believers shouldn't have to be faced with criticism.

Godless Children and the Future of Atheism: Raising Godless Children - How Can Godless Parents Today Affect the Future of Atheism?
It's a simple fact that the godless children being raised by atheists today are likely to be at the forefront of atheism in the future. What's not so simple is what godless parents are going to do about this - what do they want for their children, what sort of atheism do they want their children to express, and what sort of atheism do they want to see develop in the future. This, by extension, should affect what sort of community and society they live in in the future as well.

Myth: Abstract Concepts are Immaterial, Depend on God & Theism - Are Atheists, Materialists Unable to Account for Abstract Concepts?
Most atheists are materialists and naturalists, which means that they only accept the existence of a natural world made up of matter and energy. This means not believing in the existence of supernatural beings or anything not produced by matter and energy. For some strange reason, this gives some theists the idea that atheists must therefore be unable to consistently or logically accept that abstract concepts exist because they are not made out of matter.

My Family Is Upset Because I Am An Atheist: Questions about Atheism and Atheists
Unfortunately, not every family is very accepting of people rejecting their religion; rejecting belief in a god altogether can be even more difficult. You've told your family that you are an atheist, but like many families, they aren't reacting well and things are going badly for you. Figuring out what to do next is very difficult.

Why Ban Flag Burning? Evaluating Arguments for Bans on Burning, Desecrating the American Flag
Although the connections may not be obvious, there are significant ties between efforts to ban the burning or desecration of the American flag and Christian Nationalism. Nothing profane can be desecrated, thus the very idea that the flag can be desecrated is derived from the belief that the flag is sacred in some fashion. This belief is most actively promoted by Christian Nationalists, for whom true patriotism and true religion have been fused into an anti-democratic political movement.

Families and Traditions: Atheism, Holidays and Rituals
Perhaps the biggest loss in not attending religious ceremonies at a church and not participating in religion-themed rituals is the loss of joint family activities and the diminishing of a family tradition. If this bothers you and others in your family, you should entertain the possibility of developing some substitute activities and starting some new traditions which might genuinely include all of the family regardless of belief.

My Family Wants Me To Keep Going To Church: Questions about Atheism and Atheists: Going to Church with Family
Although this is a situation which affects young people living at home more than adults, atheists of all ages still have to contend with religious families who want you to maintain the outward appearance of religiosity and pretend as if you were still religious. Some atheists don't mind and some may even enjoy some aspects of church services, like the music; but many more don't appreciate being expected to attend religious services when they have abandoned that religion entirely.

Friedrich Nietzsche on Justice & Equality: Does Justice Only Exist Between Equals?
Justice (fairness) originates among those who are approximately equally powerful... where there is no clearly recognizable predominance and a fight would mean inconclusive mutual damage, there the idea originates that one might come to an understanding and negotiate one's claims: the initial character of justice is the character of a trade.

Atheists and Marriage: Questions, Problems, Conflicts
Marriage is a very important and intimate relationship - but can marriages between atheists and theists work? What problems face atheists when married to religious spouses? How about when your in-laws are devoutly religious as well? What happens when your spouse grows more religious over time, or you more atheistic?

My Family Says That I Am 'Just Going Through A Phase.' Questions about Atheism and Family
This sort of situation occurs more often with young atheists than with adults - perhaps it is because young people do go through a number of

The American Flag as Symbol: But a Symbol of What? The Symbolic Impact of Burning an American Flag
Humans could not exist without symbols. These representations of objects and concepts allow us to explore relationships between things and ideas in ways not otherwise possible. The American flag is of course a symbol, but a symbol of what? The answers to these questions are, I believe, at the heart of debates between supporters and opponents of laws outlawing burning or desecration of the American flag.

Christian Views of the Ten Commandments: Religious Issues in the Ten Commandments
Because of the multiplicity of Christian denominations, it is inevitable that the Christian views of the Ten Commandments would be both confusing and contradictory. There is no one authoritative way for Christians to understand the commandments and as a consequence, many of the interpretations conflict with each other. Even the lists that Christians use aren’t all the same.

Atheists and Weddings: Questions, Conflicts, Advice
Atheists are human too, and so of course atheists are just as likely as anyone else to participate in many of the common social experiences which mark a society. One of them is, of course, weddings - both their own and the weddings of friends and relatives. Unfortunately, wedding ceremonies are commonly religious in nature - what is an irreligious atheist to do?

Theology, Apologetics, and Religious Philosophy: Same Questions & Topics, Different Motives
Both theology and the philosophy of religion have played important roles in Western culture, but not everyone understands the important differences between them. The motives behind theology and the philosophy of religion are very different, but the questions they ask and the topics they address are often the same.

Tiruvalluvar on Reasoning: Why It's Difficult to Reason with Unreasonable People
It can be very difficult to reason with people who are themselves unfamiliar to reason well - or even what sound reasoning really looks like. Critical thinking and reasoning skills aren't taught explicitly in most schools, so most people are unfamiliar with things like logic and fallacies. So how does one reason with people who don't understand how to reason?

Biblical Communism: What Does the Bible Say About Communism & Socialism?
One topic of discussion which comes up every so often is the connection between fervent evangelical Christianity and equally fervent anti-communism. In the minds of many, atheism and communism are indelibly linked, and political actions opposed to communism have long taken the form of strengthening public Christianity. In reality, there are biblical passages that strongly support communism or socialism.

Expression vs. Speech: Does Free Speech Cover Non-Speech Acts Like Flag Burning and Flag Waving?
Despite a spate of court decisions against them, some people continue to insist that there is no speech interest in flag burning, and therefore flag burning should not be protected by the First Amendment. One has to wonder, then, whether something like flag waving is a speech act? If flag burning doesn't qualify as speech, then flag waving can't; if flag waving is protected as free speech, then flag burning should be as well.

Religion vs. Religious: If Something is Religious, is it a Religion?
The terms religion and religious obviously come from the same root, which would normally lead us to conclude that they also refer to basically the same thing: one as a noun and the other as an adjective. But perhaps that isn't always true - perhaps the adjective religious has a broader usage than the noun religion.

Functional Definitions of Religion: Examining How Religion Operates and What Religion Does
Functional definitions are so common that most academic definitions of religion can be categorized as either psychological or sociological in nature. Psychological definitions focus upon the ways in which religion plays a role in the mental, emotional, and psychological lives of believers. Sociological definitions define religion by the ways in which it either has an impact upon society or the ways in which it is expressed socially by believers.

Functional Definitions of Religion: Examples of How Religion Operates and What Religion Does
One common way to define religion is to focus on what are known as functional definitions: these are definitions which emphasize the way religion operates in human lives. When constructing a functional definition is to ask what a religion does - usually psychologically or socially. Below are various short quotes from philosophers and scholars of religion which attempt to capture the nature of religion from a functionalist perspective. Page 2.

Benjamin Franklin on Church & State: Why Religions Should Support Themselves
It is common for religious groups to petition the government to support them in some fashion - this shouldn’t be surprising because as long as the government is in the habit of offering support to different organizations, it should be expected for religious groups to join in with all of the secular groups asking for aid. In principle, there isn’t anything necessarily wrong with this - but it can lead to problems.

Judas Iscariot: Contradictions in the Gospel Accounts of Judas' Betrayal of Jesus
There was no option for Jesus not to be executed because without his crucifixion, he could not rise again in three days and thus save humanity. To be executed, though, he had to be betrayed to the Jewish authorities - if Judas hadn't done it, someone else would have. In Mark, the motive of greed is ascribed to Judas. Matthew agrees with Mark but Luke claims that Judas was led astray by Satan. John, on the other hand, attributes the motivation to both Satan and a penchant for theft.

Atheism for Beginners
An overview with links to lots of resources about atheism, including refutations of many popular myths about atheism.

Technology vs Religion, Technology as Religion
Why have both technology and fundamentalism grown at the same time? Perhaps there are religious impulses underlying the drive of technology.

Ethics: Descriptive, Normative, and Analytic
The field of ethics is usually broken down into three different ways of thinking about ethics: descriptive, normative and analytic.

Theories in Epistemology: Are Our Senses Reliable?
Theories in epistemology attempt to describe the relationship between our knowledge and the objects of that knowledge.

The Matrix, Religion, and Philosophy
The Matrix films are popular and considered 'deep,' but are they religious in nature? Do they communicate Christian or Buddhist beliefs? Or are they philosophical?

The Matrix and Gnosticism: Is the Matrix a Gnostic Film?
The Matrix may not be a Christian film, but it shares many themes with Gnosticism and Gnostic Christianity. Does that mean it's a Gnostic film, though?

Matrix and Christianity: Is the Matrix a Christian Film
The presence of Christian ideas in the the Matrix films is undeniable, but does this allow us to conclude that the Matrix films are Christian movies?

What is Theism? Is Theism the Same as Religion?
Theism is the belief in at least one god of some sort, no more and no less. It may or may not be associated with a religion.

Meyer v. Nebraska (1923)
Do parents have a right to decide what their children learn? No such right is in the Constitution, but the Supreme Court ruled that such a right exists.

Can Atheists Be Religious? Are there Religious Atheists?
There is a strong correlation between being an atheist and being irreligious, but there is no necessary and inherent connection between the two.

What Is Idealism? History of Idealist Philosophy
Idealism is a category of philosophical systems which argue that reality is somehow dependent upon the mind rather than independent of the mind.

Atheism vs. Agnosticism: What's the Difference?
Many think agnosticism is more 'reasonable' than atheism and thus reject the label of atheist. The idea that atheism is dogmatic is incorrect.

Can Catholic Priests Marry?
Should Catholic priests be allowed to marry? Eastern Rite Catholic priests can, as can married priests who convert. The ban on marriage is political, not theological.

Albert Einstein's Lack of Belief in a Personal God
Albert Einstein consistently and unambiguously denied believing in personal gods who answered prayers or involved themselves in human affairs.

Valentine's Day: Pagan Holiday or Christian Holiday?
Isn't Valentine's Day a Christian day, named after a saint? Not really. Today it's a commercial holiday; it started as a pagan holiday about fertility.

Jesus Heals the Deaf and Blind (Mark 7:31-37)
In Mark 7, Jesus spends a lot of time healing people, but this time he only heals one: a blind man, whom he tells to keep quiet about it. Why?

Ninth Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness
The commandment to not bear false witness against one's neighbor sounds easy, but it's not. Who is one's neighbor? What does false witness mean?

Seventh Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery
The commandment to not commit adultery sounds easy, but it's not. What is adultery, exactly? The Hebrews defined it differently than people today do.

First Amendment and Federalism - Does the First Amendment Apply to States?
Many opponents of church/state separation try to defend actions by state and local governments that promote or endorse religion by arguing that the First Amendment doesn't apply to them. These accommodations and theocrats insist that the First Amendment only applies to the Federal Government and therefore all other levels of government are unrestrained, able to mix with religious institutions as much as they wish. This argument is awful in both its logic and its consequences.

Hitler and Nationalism: Program of Positive Christianity
A popular image of the Nazis is that they were fundamentally anti-Christian while devout Christians were anti-Nazi. The truth is that German Christians supported the Nazis because they believed that Adolf Hitler was a gift to the German people from God. German Christianity was a divinely sanctioned religious movement which combined Christian doctrine and German character in a unique and desirable manner: True Christianity was German and True German-ness was Christian.

Is it Wrong to Mock Religious Beliefs and Institutions?
The Danish publication of satirical cartoons of Muhammad generated a lot of heated discussion about the moral and political legitimacy of satirizing or mocking religion, but this issue has generated heated debate for a long time. Muslims weren't the first to seek censorship of images or words which offended them, and they won't be the last. Religions may change, but the basic arguments remain fairly constant and this allows us to more quickly respond when the issue arises again (and again).

Why Is Philosophy Important for Atheists?
Defining and explaining philosophy is no easy task - the very nature of the subject seems to defy description. The problem is that philosophy, in one way or another, ends up touching upon nearly every aspect of human life. Philosophy has something to say when it comes to science, art, religion, politics, medicine, and a host of other topics. This is also why a basic grounding in philosophy can be so important for irreligious atheists.

Why Should Atheists Care About Philosophy?
Why should anyone, including atheists, care about philosophy? Many think of philosophy as an idle, academic pursuit, never amounting to anything of practical value. If you look at the works of ancient Greek philosophers, they were asking the same questions which philosophers ask today. Doesn't this mean that philosophy never gets anywhere and never accomplishes anything? Aren't atheists wasting their time by studying philosophy and philosophical reasoning? Page 3.

Studying & Doing Philosophy: How is Philosophy Studied? How is Philosophy Done? Atheists Need to Learn How to Do Philosophy Well
The study of philosophy is usually approached in one of two different ways: the systematic or topical method and the historical or biographical method. Both have their strengths and weaknesses and it is often beneficial to avoid focusing on one to the exclusions of the other, at least whenever possible. For irreligious atheists, though, the focus should probably be more on the topical than on the biographical method because that will provide clear overviews of relevant issues. Page 4.

Agnosticism and Thomas Henry Huxley
The word agnosticism was coined by Professor Thomas Henry Huxley at a meeting of the Metaphysical Society in 1876. Huxley viewed agnosticism as rejecting the knowledge claims of both 'strong' atheism and traditional theism. More importantly, though, agnosticism for him was a method of doing things.

Modern Humanist Philosophy and Religion
Humanism as a philosophy today can be as little as an perspective on life or as much as an entire way of life; the common feature is that it is always focused primarily on human needs and interests. Philosophic Humanism can be distinguished form other forms of humanism precisely by the fact that it constitutes some sort of philosophy, whether minimalist or far-reaching, that helps define how a person lives and how a person interacts with other humans.

What Does It Mean to Be an Infidel?
Infidel is defined literally as 'one without faith.' Atheists who deliberately adopt the label reject the negative implications of the definition.

Is Christianity Compatible with Democracy?
People ask whether Islam is compatible with democracy, but is Christianity compatible with democracy? Some Christians insist that Christianity is required for democracy, but history tells us a very different story.

Relationship Between Agnosticism and Religion
Agnosticism is compatible with religion and can be an integral part of some religions. Agnosticism does not necessarily stand outside of religion and religious systems, either as a disinterested observer or as an active critic. This may be true of some agnostics and especially of agnostic atheists, but it's not inherently true of all agnostics.

Mixed Marriages with Atheists and Theists
Can mixed marriages between atheists and theists work or are such people so different that their marriage would be doomed to failure? Marriage is one of the most intimate and serious relationships a person can have in their lives; it is thus understandable that people wonder if the gap between atheism and theism will create further differences which prevent individuals from making a marriage work.

Mixed Marriages with Atheists & Theists: Importance of Respect & Tolerance
One barrier which may prevent a marriage between an atheist and a theist from working is the issue of respect and tolerance. Without some minimal amount of those two factors, it is difficult for any relationship to survive; when such fundamental matters like the existence of god(s) is at issue, they become even more critical. Page 2.

Mixed Marriages with Atheists & Theists: Differences over Religion & Religious Doctrines
To be fair, if anything comes between an atheist and a theist it probably won't be theism itself. Instead, one of the things most likely to cause problems will be religion - not every theist is religious, and not every religious person is a theist. What this means is that specific doctrines and dogmas are most likely to cause problems and will have to be watched closely. Page 3.

Dating between Atheists & Theists: Are They Doomed or Can They Work?
Of course, most marriages are preceded by dating and courtship, a time in people's relationship with each other when matters are less serious and more provisional. At this stage differences over theism and religion are less likely to cause problems, but that doesn't mean that they shouldn't be watched closely. Page 4.

Humanist Philosophy and Cultural Traditions
The label 'miscellaneous' might seem derogatory, but it isn't meant to be such. The types of humanism covered in this section are the types which are simply not commonly thought of when humanism is discussed. They are valid categories, to be sure, but they aren't the focus of most of the discussions on this site.

History of Humanism With Ancient Roman Philosophers
Although much of what we regard as the ancient forerunners of humanism tend to be found in Greece, the original humanists of the European Renaissance first looked to the forerunners who were also their own ancestors: the Romans. It was in the philosophical, artistic, and political writings of the ancient Romans that they found inspiration for their own move away from traditional religion and otherworldly philosophy in favor of a this-worldly concern for humanity.

Basic Facts About Agnosticism & Agnostics for Beginners
There are a lot of resources here about agnosticism for beginners: what agnosticism is, what it isn't, and refutations of many popular myths about agnosticism. I've discovered, though, that it isn't always easy to direct people to all of the information they need. That's why I've collected here some of the basics about atheism for beginners that I find myself linking to most often.

Request of James and John to Jesus (Mark 10:35-45)
Jesus uses this occasion to repeat his earlier lesson about how a person who wants to be in Mark 10:35-45.

Atheists and Republicans: Should Atheists Vote for the Republican Party?
Should atheists vote for Republican candidates? There's nothing inherently incompatible with being an atheist who is Republican or who votes Republican, so this question may seem rather strange. However, I think that there are practical issues which should make any atheist think twice before helping any Republicans - even moderates - take public office.

The Criteria for Science and Scientific Theories
Scientific theories all have common characteristics which differentiate them from unscientific ideas like faith and pseudoscience.

BC vs. BCE - Is It Better to Use CE and BCE or AD and BC?
Using BCE and CE rather than BC and AD doesn't privilege Christianity; it just refers to the common era Christianity and other religions.

Why Do Atheists Debate Theists? Why Do Atheists Care What Others Believe?
People might legitimately wonder why atheists debate religious theists over the validity of both theism and religion. Atheism is only the disbelief in gods; this means that some atheists may themselves be religious while others may not care about either theism or religion. In practice, though, atheists are interested in both theism and religion, commonly regarding both as not only false but harmful to people and society. Atheists care because religion and theism affect them as well.

Religious vs. Non-Religious Belief Systems: Differentiating Between Religions and Other Belief Systems
Religion is a type of belief system, but not all belief systems are religion. Differentiating religious from non-religious belief systems can be difficult. Understanding how and why theism, philosophy, spirituality, and other beliefs are similar and different from what we normally think of when when think 'religion' can help a in understanding just religion is. Some point to where the outer boundaries of religion lie, while others help us understand what religion necessarily includes.

Existence Precedes Essence: Existentialist Thought
'Existence precedes essence' has come to be a classic, even defining, formulation of the heart of existentialist philosophy.

What is a Logical Fallacy? Understanding Defective Arguments
Fallacies are defects in an argument that cause an argument to be invalid, unsound or weak. Fallacies can be separated into formal and informal.

What is an Infidel? Who are Infidels?
Infidel is defined literally as 'one without faith' and is today technically an archaic term referring to anyone who doubts or denies the tenets of whichever religion is most popular in a society. According to this definition, an infidel in one society may be a True Believer in a neighboring society. Being an infidel is thus always relative to whatever religion possesses the most social, cultural, and political power at any given time.

Atheism and Anti-Theism: What's the Difference?
Atheism is the absence of belief in gods; anti-theism is a conscious and deliberate opposition to theism. Many atheists are anti-theists, but not all.

Microevolution vs. Macroevolution: What's the Difference?
'Microevolution' and 'macroevolution' are often used by creationists who don't understand what they are. There is no real difference between them.

The Problem of Pride: Patriotism, Racism, and Flags
It appears it has always been the fashion to degrade your neighbor. It is the herd mentality I suppose to put people into groups and tally their differences and weaknesses rather than related qualities. Human beings so love to categorize, and thus racism was born.

The Problem of Pride: Hatred and Pride
At its heart, patriotism is little more than a disguised form of racism in a socially palatable form. It is politically incorrect to declare racial superiority, but the pride of Nationalism is perfectly acceptable. The former threatens the social order, the latter galvanizes it; it gives the whole society a focus for their hate, an emotion, which we are often told is wrong but only for those who are close at hand never at a distance. Page 2.

Evolution & Creationism Court Cases - History of Evolution Court Cases
In addition to usually losing political fights, creation science supporters also lose in the courts as well. Regardless of what arguments they try to use, the courts inevitably find that teaching creationism is a violation of the separation of church and state because creationists are unable to avoid the fact that their ideology is fundamentally religious and, therefore, inappropriate to teach students in public schools. Only science is appropriate for science classes and that's evolution.

Debating Jehovah's Witnesses Unique Resurrection Doctrine & Afterlife Beliefs - Can The Faithful Really Live Forever In Paradise On Earth?
Millions of Christians look forward to an afterlife where they will be rewarded with a heavenly resurrection while the spirits of the wicked are punished in Hell. Jehovah's Witnesses, in contrast, don't believe in an immortal soul and most look forward to an earthly resurrection where their bodies will be restored to perfect health. Nearly everyone will be resurrected and given a second chance to prove their loyalty to God, which makes Jehovah seem kinder than the God of many Christians.

Rationality vs. Rationalization - Do We Have Rational or Rationalized Beliefs?
We like to think of ourselves as rational animals, but perhaps it would be more accurate to describe ourselves as rationalizing animals. However reasonable a view may be, it’s possible that we have acquired it for wholly irrational reasons and are now simply rationalizing it in order to maintain our self-image as consistent, rational, and moral. It’s not just a question of rationalization, either - we appear capable of making up complete falsehoods as part of this.

Smug, Arrogant Atheists - How Are Atheists Smug or Arrogant?
It's common to see complaints and accusations that atheists are arrogant or even smug. The point seems to be that atheists should re-frame their position radically so as to present themselves in a more appealing, amicable manner. There are at least two problems: it's not always clear that the accusation is legitimate and, even when it is, that the alleged arrogance is genuinely a problem. Too often, the accusation is made as if it were self-evidently true and bad. This needs to be challenged

Philosophy of Science: What is Science?
What is science? This is a reasonable question, but it isn't easy to provide a simple, definitive answer. 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 to explain it all - and still people disagree. In a real sense, science is what scientists do.

Evolution & Religion - The Relationship Between Evolution & Religion
Very often, it seems as though evolution and religion must be locked in a desperate struggle of life and death - and for some religious beliefs, perhaps that impression is accurate. However, the fact that some religions and some religious dogmas are not entirely compatible with evolutionary biology does not mean that the same must be true for all religions or religion generally, nor does it mean that evolution and atheism somehow require each other. The subject is more complex than that.

Argument from Common Consent: Does God Exist Because People Believe It?
This argument was once used by theologians and philosophers, but has fallen out of favor among those who know what they are talking about. The reason, as it shall be seen, is that this is not simply an flawed argument but can also be a logical fallacy.

Separation is Unbiblical - Is Church/State Separation Contrary to the Bible?
Most arguments against church/state separation are secular - philosophical, political, historical, etc. Sometimes, though, opponents of church/state separation use theological and religious arguments. The purposing of making such an argument appears to be to convince people to reject the notion of separation on religious grounds - if it is not biblical, then it is not Christian, and if it is not Christian, then it is not something which a Christian should accept.

Inferential Evidence for Evolution - Evidence for Inferring Evolution
Inferential evidence for evolution is evidence that does not involve direct observation of evolution but from which we can infer that evolution has occurred. The three main kinds of inferential evidence for common descent are contemporary homologies, biogeography, and the fossil record. Inferential evidence is open to interpretation, but this doesn’t mean inferential evidence is weak. The more such evidence that exists and the less any alternatives can explain it all, the stronger evolution is.

Court Decisions on the Ten Commandments
Should displays of the Ten Commandments be allowed in public buildings? Should large monuments be erected on the grounds of courthouses or legislative buildings? Should there be posters of the Ten Commandments in schools and other municipal buildings? Some argue that they are part of our legal history, but others contend that they are inherently religious and, therefore, cannot be allowed.

Appeal to Authority: Argumentum ad Populum (Appeal to Numbers)
Appeal to Numbers This fallacy occurs any time the sheer numbers of people who agree to something is used as a reason to get you to agree to it and takes the general form: When most people agree on a claim about subject S, the claim is true (normally an unstated premise). Claim X is one which most people agree on. Therefore, X is true.

Types of Creationism - What Types of Creationism Exist?
Like evolution, creationism can have more than one meaning. At its most basic, creationism is the belief that the universe was created by a deity of some sort - but after that, there is quite a lot of variety among creationists as to just what they believe and why. People may lump all creationists together in one group, but it is important to understand where they differ and why. Not every critique of creationism and creationist ideology will apply equally well to all creationists.

Religious Authority vs. Secular Authority: Religious Leaders & Religious Laity
Religious authority is not something that exists 'out there,' independent of humanity. On the contrary, the existence of religious authority is predicated upon a particular kind of relationship between those who are 'religious leaders' and the rest of a religious community, considered 'religious laity.' It is in this relationship that questions about religious authority, problems with religious conflict, and issues of religious behavior play out. Page 2.

Religious Authority vs. Secular Authority: Religious Authority and Civil Society
One issue which faces all systems of religious authority is how to structure their relationship with the rest of civil society. Even when the form of government is theocratic and therefore controlled by religious interests, there remain aspects of society which are ostensibly distinct from traditional spheres of direct religious control, and thus some form of working relationship is required.

Tax Exemptions vs. Church Political Activity: Current Policies & Laws
By not taxing churches, the government is prevented from directly interfering with how churches operate. By the same token, those churches are also prevented from directly interfering with how the government operates in that they cannot endorse any political candidates, they cannot campaign on behalf of any candidates, and they cannot attack any political candidate.

Sayyid Qutb: Profile and Biography
Sayyid Qutb, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood who promoted the idea of violent revolution against non-Muslim rulers, created a new way for modern Muslims, dissatisfied with their condition, to look at society. He provided an ideological framework to the use principles of Islam, rather than Western categories like capitlaism, socialism, democracy, in order to fight against unjust government.

C.S. Lewis and Faith: Defending Faith in God by using Reason, Attacks on Naturalism
Christian apologist C.S. Lewis had a curious relationship with faith. On the one hand, he couldn't very well deny the importance of faith because it has been a core component of Christianity since the very beginning - both Jesus and Paul praise it as vital. At the same time, however, his overall goal was to provide a rational apologetic that justified acceptance of Christianity on intellectual grounds. This would make faith superfluous.

Sayyid Qutb: Jahiliyya in Extremist Ideology
An important conerstone of Sayyid Qutb‘s work was his use of the Islamic concept of jahiliyya. This term is used in Islam to characterize the days before Muhammad's revelation, and before him it primarily just meant

C.S. Lewis and Naturalism: Can Naturalism Explain Reason, Nature, and Morality?
C.S. Lewis wanted to explain nature on the basis of his supernatural god; as a consequence, naturalistic explanations for nature represented a major threat - just as it does for contemporary apologists. Lewis argued against naturalism in a variety of contexts. It plays an important role not just in his discussions about morality, but also in his arguments about the nature of reason.

Cuffley v. Mickes (1999) - Supreme Court Decision in Cuffley v. Mickes
Does Free Speech extend even to groups that are unpopular with the general public, including those considered hateful and unacceptable? Should all groups, whatever their political positions, be allowed to participate fully in government programs? Those questions were tested in Cuffley v. Mickes, which pitted the Ku Klux Klan against a state government that didn't want them to receive the publicity which usually accompanies participation in an Adopt-A-Highway program. The state lost.

Myth: Atheists Deny God Because That Accepts Something Smarter Than Them
Most studies show a strong correlation between education and atheism: the more education a person has, the less religious they become and even less theistic. Some religious theists, seeking a way to attack atheism, try to use this against atheists by claiming that atheists' intelligence is a reason for their disbelief not because they really do know more, but because they are too arrogant. Atheists, according to this myth, don't want to admit the existence of a god smarter than they are.

Hillary Clinton on Secular Atheists: Does Clinton Support Atheists' Equality? Atheists Are the Most Despised in America; Does Hillary Clinton Agree?
Given how important devoutly religious people regard their faith in their god not only to their lives, but also to matters like morality, it would be a surprise if it weren't difficult for them to regard as fully equal those who reject their religion, their theism, and even that religion and theism are necessary or reasonable. Since how Hillary Clinton consistently insists that her religion is very important to her life, atheists should wonder what she really thinks about atheists and atheism.

Debating the 6 Biblical Proofs of the Watchtower Society & Jehovah's Witnesses -
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society argues it is the True Religion on the basis of six biblical requirements that only they allegedly meet. Atheists may debate these biblical proofs with Jehovah's Witnesses at the front door or because they know Jehovah's Witnesses who wish to leave but are afraid because of nagging doubts. If atheists can refute the Watchtower Society's claim of meeting these Bible proofs, then the doubtful Witness may find it easier to leave with a clean conscience.

Roman Catholicism & Gay Marriage: Natural Law
To understand why the Catholic Church argues against gay couples entering into civil rather than just religious marriages, it's important to understand the larger philosophical position. According to them, this isn't simply a question of religious doctrines and Catholic dogmas: it's a matter of basic moral principles. Page 2.

Roman Catholicism & Gay Marriage: Future Prospects
Although marriage laws are necessarily local in nature, the Catholic Church is an organization with world-wide power, influence, and connections. It represents a tremendous amount of potential social, political, and moral pressure. Catholic leaders have also made common cause with other religious organizations which oppose gay marriage for similar reasons - conservative evangelical Christians in America, for example. Does this mean that they will be successful? Page 5.

Roman Catholicism & Gay Marriage: Natural Law and Church/State Separation
The Roman Catholic Church has emerged as a world leader in the opposition to legalizing gay marriage. An organization with global reach, contacts, and influence, the Vatican has made it a priority to prevent gays from having valid unions with the same rights and legal standing as traditional marriage. What is the philosophical/theological basis for this opposition? Does it threaten to undermine the separation of church and state? Are critics guilty of anti-Catholic bigotry?

Roman Catholicism & Gay Marriage: Church vs. State
While Catholic leaders are free to define the nature/meaning of marriage and sexual activity for themselves, it isn't right for them to try to impose the same meaning and definitions on everyone else. That, however, is just what they appear to be doing. Critics have argued that Roman Catholic leaders have been stepping over the line by trying to encourage the criminalization of gay marriage. It is claimed that these religious leaders are trying to have Catholic doctrine imposed on all Americans. Page 3.

Roman Catholicism & Gay Marriage: Anti-Catholicisim?
Criticism of the Catholic Church's actions have been labeled as

Argument from Intuition & Instinct: Do We Just 'Know' that God Exists?
Sometimes people can argue that anyone who is truly religious simply

Book Review - Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery, by Stephen R. Haynes
The history of slavery in America may not be hidden, but widely unknown is the degree to which Christianity was used to defend not only slavery but also later segregation and discrimination. This secret alliance between religion and bigotry is a largely untold story which more people need to learn about in order to dispel the notion that religion generally or Christianity in particular is necessarily a force for good.

Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery
Agnosticism & Atheism. Page 2.

Epictetus on Being a Better Person: What Does it Take to be a Good Person?
No one wants to be a bad person - at least, I assume that that is the case. Where the difficulty and disagreements lie, however, is in just what constitutes a 'good person' and how one is to achieve actually being a 'good person' at all. There are a variety of theories as to how to best make moral judgments, most of which fall under the headings of 'deontological' and 'consequentialist' ethics.

C.S. Lewis on Faith and Religion: Do People Drift Out of Christianity?
C.S. Lewis is one of the most popular of modern Christian apologists and his popularity is based upon a reputation that isn’t entirely deserved. His arguments in defense of Christianity are largely superficial and unconvincing to anyone except those who are already believers or who aren’t especially skilled when it comes to critical thinking. In this quote, we are presented with an example of why Lewis’ arguments tend to be rather poor.

The Diversity of Godless Americans in the United States
Today secularism and godlessness define an increasing number of people's lives and public institutions. This social development cannot be ignored.

Which is Better, Atheism or Theism? Why Should Anyone Consider Atheism?
Given how atheism and theism are mutually exclusive, and how atheists and theists debate so much, it may seem natural to wonder which of the two is

Anger, Christianity, and Sin
Although the concept of 'seven deadly sins' no longer holds the same authority as it once did, the degree to which many of them have come to be viewed positively is remarkable. Even anger, one of the few which Jesus is recorded as specifically speaking out against, is treated as having positive value by Christians today.

Failures of Atheism: Does Atheism Do Less for People than Theism, Religion?
A popular tactic for trying to rebut atheistic critiques of religion and theism is to claim that atheism fails to provide the same things that religion and theism do: a basis for morality, meaning in life, explanations for the universe etc. These argument suffer from significant problems, two of which are most common: religion and theism do not provide genuine explanations for these things, and it's inappropriate to expect mere atheism to do so. That's a job for atheistic philosophies.

Myth: Atheism Comes with a Moral Code Making it a Religion
Critics of atheism and atheists frequently insist that one of the things that's wrong with atheism is the moral code that comes with atheism. But what moral code is adopted by all atheists of all sorts, secular and religious? There isn't one.

Saying Grace With Family: Atheism, Holidays and Rituals
A common tradition among many religions is to say some sort of thanks to their god for the food which people eat. As with participation in holiday services at churches, people who might otherwise never bother with

Philosophy of Science: Scientific Investigation, Research, Methodology
There are significant disagreements over the nature and process of scientific research which involve disputes between atheists and theists. There is a strong movement, for example, to undermine the methodological naturalism which constitutes a primary basis by which scientific investigation proceeds. Some Christians see this methodology as antithetical to their theistic beliefs and a barrier to the introduction of those beliefs into school science classes.

Is Mormonism a Form of Christianity? Does It Even Matter?
Mormons insist that the LDS Church is a Christian Church and that they are as Christian as anyone else. Are they? If so, how and why? And why would anyone care one way or the other?

Christian Churches Resistance Nazi Germany
Some Christian churches opposed the Nazis and Nazi ideology, but often it was only in cases of perceived threats to church authority and not in cases of violence towards Jews or Hitler's wars of aggression.

How Reliable Are the Gospel Stories?
Everyone probably knows that the first written records of Jesus' life appear several decades after he would have died. Not everyone seems to understand what the implications of this are. Given such a long time span during which nothing more than oral transmission would have existed, just how reliable can we count on the gospels being? In any other context, people wouldn't trust them much.

Christianity and Violence: Inquisition
It is being argued that religion will prevent violence - but what does history tell us? What happened during the Inquisition? How did Christians and Christianity treat religious dissent and heretics?

Map of the First Crusade: Religious War Launched by Christians Against Muslims
Launched by Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont in 1095, the First Crusade was the most successful. Urban gave a dramatic speech urging Christians to swarm towards Jerusalem and make it safe for Christian pilgrims by taking it away from the Muslims. Jerusalem had no natural resources which Europeans needed; instead, it's 'holiness' meant that Christians needed to control it rather than infidel Muslims. It should be little wonder, then, that secular critics of religion focus so much on the Crusades as a prime example of what's wrong with religion and why religion can be so dangerous.

Arch of Titus Relief: The Spoils of the Jerusalem
This relief is an image of the Romans' triumphal procession, returning with spoils from the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Especiallyl prominent is the sacred Menorah, but we can also see the Table of the Shewbread at an angle and the silver trumpets which called Jews to Rosh Hashanah.

Islam: Ramadan
Islam FAQ: the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is one of the holiest days of the year for Muslims. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims are expected to fast - abstain from food, water and many other things.

War and Morality: War and Pacifism
War and Morality: War and Pacifism. Explanation of the nature of pacifism, the relationship between religion and pacifism, and some basic problems with the pacifist position. Is being a pacifist moral or is it immoral?

Hermes / Mercury by Giambologna: Images of Ancient Greek Mythology, Religion, Art
The sculpture of Mercury (Hermes) by Giambologna is one of his most famous and is familiar to people all over the world. It depicts Hermes standing on a column of air coming from the mouth of Zephyr, creating an illusion of floating.

Ajax (Aias) and Achilles: Images of Ancient Greek Mythology, Religion, Art
Ajax the Great is described as second only to Achilles in Homer's The Illiad and he is the only one of the great heroes who does not receive assistance from any of the gods. The great-grandson of Zeus, he is, basically, on his own and yet manages to excel in a way that puts him far above all the other Greeks.

Sikh History: Development of a World Religion
Sikh History: Development of a World Religion. Basic information about the background of Sikhism and how this religion first developed in India.

Review - Shouting Fire: Civil Liberties in a Turbulent Age
Book Review: 'Shouting Fire: Civil Liberties in a Turbulent Age,' by Alan Dershowitz.

Timeline of Old Testament History
Old Testament History: Timeline of events, people and places.

aesthetic value
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - aesthetics

Second Law of Thermodynamics
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - Second Law of Thermodynamics

contradictory vs. contrary
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - contradictory vs. contrary

uniformity of nature
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - uniformity of nature

Arafat, Yasser - Short Biography of Palestinian, PLO leader Yasser Arafat
Islam Glossary - Short Biography of Yasser Arafat. Yasser Arafat is best known as the leader of teh PLO, but the Palestinian Liberation Organization was not founded by him. Instead, it was originally created by various Arab states in 1964 and Arafat managed to taken control in 1969 after the those states were defeated by Israel in the Six Day War.

Iconoclastic Controversy
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - Iconoclastic Controversy

Biography: Pope Leo X
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - Short Biography of Pope Leo X

Biography: Pope Paul VI
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - Short Biography of Pope Paul VI

Biography: Saint Peter
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - a short biography of Saint Peter

Biography: Pope Pius XI
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - Short Biography of Pope Pius XI

Biography: Zwingli, Ulrich
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - Short Biography of Ulrich Zwingli

Quotes on Religion - Evolution and Creationism
Quotations about Evolution and Creationism, from your About.com Guide

Ethics and Reality TV: Should We Really Watch?
Reality shows have become a fixture on American TV, but are they as real as advertised? And what are the ethical implications of creating or watching them?

Charles de Montesquieu Biography
A French Enlightenment philosopher and deist whose writings were condemned by the Catholic Church, Montesquieu promoted the separation of powers in government.

Myth: Atheists Hate God and Christians
Atheists are accused of hating God, but it's impossible to hate something you don't believe in. As for Christians, it's more frustration and annoyance.

Christian History, Theology, and Theologians
Christianity has a history. This seems like such a simple and straightforward declaration - and it isn't something which anyone can plausibly deny. Yet, despite this, most Christians appear to forget the fact that their faith has a long and diverse history.

Christian Churches: Cathedrals, Churches, Abbeys, and other Christian Holy Sites
Like other religions, Christianity has many import sacred sites where religious rituals are performed. Any church can be holy and sacred for Christians, but certain churches are older, have more history, and are thus sometimes regarded as especially sacred to believers. These Christian churches, cathedrals, abbeys, and other holy sites can play important roles in the development of Christian history.

Christian Heresies & Heretics: History of Heretical Doctrines and Groups in Christianity
The term heresy comes from the Greek haireisthai, which means 'to choose.' Heresy is not so much the rejection of a religious authority as it is the rejection of a particular religious authority in favor of some other religious authority - an unorthodox one, to be specific. Christian history is full of heresies, heretics, and heretical groups.

Critiques of Christianity, Christian Claims, Beliefs, Theology
Lots of people claim to be Christians and ask you to convert based upon what they say - but how do you tell the True Christians from the mere Christian wannabes?

C.S. Lewis: Christian Apologist & Christian Novelist - Christianity, Miralces, and the Narnia Chronicles
C.S. Lewis' fame as an author came on two fronts. One was his fictional works, the most popular of which are the Chronicles of Narnia, seven books for young people which incorporate Christian themes and doctrines allegorically. The second front of his fame came from books openly written in defense of traditional Christianity. These include the popular The Screwtape Letters, a collection of letters of advice from a demon to his nephew, and the famous book, Mere Christianity.

Ancient Mythology, Religion: News and History of Ancient Myths, Mythology, Religions, and Religious Beliefs
The religions we see today didn't pop out of nowhere - they evolved gradually from more ancient faiths which have largely, it not entirely, died away. What are some of these religions and how have their beliefs survived down through today? Here you can read about some recent developments, discoveries, and scholarship on ancient religious beliefs. These religions may no longer be active, but we continue to learn more about them and they continue to influence our culture.

Sacred Texts, Times, Places: the Place of the Sacred in Religion (Scriptures, Holy Days, Churches, Temples, Etc.)
Some scholars of religion have argued that the disctinction between sacred and profane is the defining characteristic of religion. Religions all have sacred times (holy days, holidays), sacred texts (scriptures), and sacred places (churches, mosques, temples). Studying religion requires studying these sacred things and understanding what they mean.

Robert A. Heinlein Quotes on God and Religion
An agnostic and skeptic, Robert Heinlein was very critical of organized religion, theology, and the influence religion had on both government and culture.