Agnosticism & Atheism Sitemap - Page 4 2016-09-26
John Shelby Spong Quotes on Religion and Fundamentalism
An Episcopal bishop, John Shelby Spong is a sharp critic of Christian fundamentalism and biblical literalism, advocating a modern, liberal religiosity.
Thomas Alva Edison Quotes on Religion and Faith
A freethinker and skeptic, Thomas Edison was critical of traditional religion and religious beliefs. He wasn't an atheist; instead, he was more a deist.
What Does the Red Cross Mean?
Some people seem to think that the red cross which is used as a symbol by the American Red Cross and International Red Cross is a Christian symbol - and
Teen Nudity, Child Pornography, and Sexuality
That America and European nations have different attitudes towards sex and especially teen sexuality is widely known. Sometimes, though, those differences
Jessica Alba Left Born-Again Christian Church
Currently a very popular actress, there was a time in her teenage years when Jessica Alba was active in a born-again evangelical Christian church. Why did she
Atheism is Not a Belief System (Does This Really Need Repeating?)
Over and over again, atheists have to keep repeating the fact that atheism is not a belief system, an ideology, a religion, a philosophy, or anything similar.
Dark Side of the American Dream
Warren Buffett: Atheist Philanthropist?
People sometimes say, or just imply, that atheists don't do charitable work like religious theists. This is supposed to demonstrate how much better theistic
Is There a War on Christmas? Conservatives and Republicans Think So
Every year sees a renewed debate over the so-called 'War on Christmas' and the primary divisions are political. Most conservatives believe that such a war exists and most liberals believe it doesn't. The biggest support for the existence of a War on Christmas is found among those who identify with the Tea Party.
American Christians on Sodomy vs. Procreation
The term 'sodomy' should be fairly familiar to Americans, given how widely it has been used by conservative American Christians as a label for certain sexual practices... but which sexual practices, exactly? Christians have disagreed on and debated exactly what they want to include in this category.
Taking Beliefs Seriously: Why Reason and Argument are Necessary
What does it mean to say that you believe something? It means that you accept a proposition as true. But so what? Who cares what you think is true or not? No one cares, necessarily, unless you can provide good reasons to think that it is true - reasons which, therefore, become reasons why others should think it is true.
Intellectual Curiosity vs. Religious Orthodoxy
The more widely a person reads and studies, the harder it can be to hold on to traditional, orthodox beliefs. One need only look at the extent to which fundamentalist and conservative religious groups have historically denounced higher education, skepticism, and critical thinking to recognize this.
Christianity and Violence: The Inquisition
If Christianity is a religion of peace, why did Christian institutions participate in so much violence during the Inquisition in Europe and the Americas?
Basic Muslim Beliefs: Are They Defensible?
In order to understand and critique Islam, you need to understand the basic beliefs which all Muslims are expected to have and defend.
George Washington Quotes on Religion
George Washington was critical of religious institutions, supported religious liberty, and was more of a deist than a traditional, conventional Christian.
Christianity and Violence: The Crusades
If Christianity is a religion of peace, why were Christians so enthusiastic in launching aggressive wars known as Crusades against non-Christians?
Ayn Rand Quotes on Religion and Reason
Ayn Rand was a staunch rationalist and unapologetic critic of religion, religious beliefs, the supernatural, faith, and anything mystical.
Is Islam Based on Peace, Submission, and Surrender to God?
Islam is commonly defined as submission to the will of God, and the concept of submission is critical to both understanding and critiquing Islam
Ethics, Morals, and Values: How do they relate?
What we value in life is critical to our moral standards and judgments. How and why we value things often determine the type of moral system we have.
Is Secularization Inimical to Religion?
Some people believe that religion cannot survive in a secular society. Apparently, the voluntary and personal commitment of individual members to their churches or other religious organizations isn't sufficient; instead, religion needs the active defense and support of the state. Otherwise, people will find it too easy to drift away from religion.
Feminists and Conservatives Against Sex
Feminists and religious conservatives who oppose greater sexual liberty have frequently made common cause with each other - and in pretty much every case, the feminists have allowed the religious conservatives to lead the way, creating laws and policies which ultimately undermine liberty and equality for women.
Did Jesus' Disciples Write the Gospels?
Who wrote the gospels of the New Testament? It's common for Christian believers to act as though the gospels were written by the disciples whose names appear at the top of the first page. This has certainly been the standard, orthodox belief for centuries.
Bible Study, Commentary, Analysis: Old Testament Scriptures, Laws
This online Bible study provides commentary on and analysis of the Old Testament. For Christians, the Old Testament is the collection of biblical scriptures which is derived from the Jewish tradition. For Protestants, it is the same as what appears in the classical Jewish collections. For Roman Catholics, it is this collection plus the Apocrypha. This online Bible study and commentary is independent of all these perspectives.
Critical Thinking: Using Logic and Reason
What is the best way to approach or deal with complicated claims? What is the best way to apply logic in order to construct sound arguments? What are logical fallacies in how can they wreck an argument? What other sorts of common errors do people make when creating arguments? What can science and philosophy do to help us in our arguments?
Christmas Holiday Season: Origins, Atheists, Church/State Separation
Atheists spend much time discussing whether religious beliefs are justified, but there are also practical issues which merit close discussion. Should atheists celebrate local religious holidays? What are the origins of these holidays and what do they mean? Does it violate the separation of church and state for governments to recognize religious holy days?
Religion, Women, Sex: How Religion Can Repress Women and Sexuality
Feligions often treat women as inferior to men - women have been denied leadership roles, they are told to be submissive, and religious doctrines are used to control them both in society and the family. Religions also often treat sex and sexuality as if they were inherently evil. These two attitudes are closely connected in most religions.
Pentateuch Bible Study - Analysis and Summaries of the First Five Books of the Bible
The Pentateuch is the first five books of the Bible. These five books comprise the Torah of Judaism and are the beginning of the Christian Old Testament. Many different types of literature and themes are found in the Pentateuch. Anyone who wants to understand the Bible needs to first have some grounding in the Pentateuch.
The Seventh Commandment and American Law
If the Ten Commandments are the foundation of American law or government, where in the Constitution is the Seventh Commandment to be found? Where in the Constitution or indeed anywhere in modern U.S. law are Americans forbidden from committing adultery?
Religion and God: Comforting or Challenging?
Does it make more sense to think that if a god exists, our belief in it is something that should comfort us and make us feel better about ourselves, or that if a god exists, our belief in it should challenge us and force us to reconsider what we value and want?
Liberal vs. Fundamentalist Christians: What's the Difference?
When it comes to practical policy issues, the differences between liberal and fundamentalist Christians are usually pretty obvious. More interesting and important, however, are the differences that exist in the background and in the foundations of how they conceive of their own religion.
Piety, Morality and Church/State Separation
Creating public religious monuments is just an attempt to create an facade of progress for the goal of evangelizing religion; it replaces real work with an impression of success.
American Churches, Capitalism, Consumerism
One interesting feature of modern American Christianity is how much it has borrowed from American capitalism and popular American business practices.
Conservative Religious Morality: Is it Moral or Ethical?
Conservatives tend to argue that everything wrong with America can be traced to 'liberal' morality. Is there evidence that 'conservative' morality is better?
The Attraction of Patriarchy for Women
Traditional religions tend to be very patriarchal, giving men most if not all social, political, and familial power while relegating women to second-class status at best. The attraction of so much power for men isn't that hard to imagine, but why are so many women attracted to such a situation?
Religion and Morality in Modern Society
It's popular for religious believers to insist that their religion, or even just religion generally, is critical for the existence of good morals. Why? Perhaps it's because in the modern world there simply isn't much of anything left for religion to do.
C.S. Lewis on Arguments and 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.
Evangelical Christianity & Personal Certainty
One of the most fundamental characteristics of evangelical Christianity, something which often goes unnoticed, is the driving need for certainty. Whatever the issue, evangelical Christians appear to experience horror at any uncertainty or shades of grey. They need certainty for example over the meaning of life and sharp lines to distinguish when a fetus is a person, rejecting ambiguity at every stage.
Dancing as a Sin: Christian Fundamentalism in America
Fundamentalist and evangelical Christians today see themselves as battling a wide variety of sins: abortion, pornography, homosexuality, and so forth. Their counterparts of a century ago also battled a wide variety of sins - and one of the most serious, which in their eyes led to many other sins, was the nasty behavior of dancing.
Nazi Socialism and Christian Socialism: Opposition to Godless Capitalism
Too few understand that the Nazis promoted a form of Christian socialism which was supposed to combat communism, liberalism, and Jewish socialism.
Life: Meaning vs. Opportunity
It's common for religious theists to worry about the 'meaning' of life and question whether atheists can have any
Supreme Court Justices: Arbiters of Religious Tradition?
Many religious conservatives criticize Supreme Court decisions which they regard as being insufficiently based upon the 'plain text' of the Constitution - decisions which, for example, draw upon sociology, international law, or modern social developments. Rarely do we hear conservatives complain about those who argue that decisions should ignore the text of the Constitution and rely upon religious law.
Atheist Identity and Atheist Speech
The explosive growth in the number of people who are public and open about being atheists connects back to something that most people don't think about: there is a close relationship between identity and speech.
Carl Sagan on Science and Asking Questions
When it comes to producing reliable, verifiable, useful knowledge about the world we all live in, science is really the only tool worth using.
Christian Justifications for Secession and Rebellion
It's thus hard to avoid the conclusion that southern secession was more a function of religious faith than of political principle. Advocates for secession preached a holy cause in the service of the God of the Old Testament and the Southern public eagerly ate it up.
What Happens After You Die?
One thing which so many religious theists have trouble understanding about irreligious atheists is the latter's lack of belief not just in gods, but also in any sort of afterlife. What happens after you die? Who cares? The person that I am is dependent upon my memories and personality.
Opposition to Liberalism, Secularism, Immorality: Hitler's Appeal to Christians
People tend to regard Hitler and the Nazis as being part of an inherently anti-Christian movement. At the same time, though, the Germany which elected Hitler was overwhelmingly Christian - Jews were a minority and no other religion had significant numbers. What was it that caused Hitler to be so appealing to German Christians?
Civil Marriage vs. Religious Marriage
Is marriage a civil right or a religious rite? This is the question which lies behind so many debates over issues like gay marriage. Some insist that marriage is a civil matter and should be regulated according to civil, secular standards. Others insist that marriage is a religious issue which should be regulated according to (their) religious standards. Who is right?
Mormonism Teaches that God Lives On or Near Kolob
Mormon doctrine teaches that God not only has a body of flesh and bone, but that God has a physical home: Kolob. It's not clear if Kolob is the planet where God lives and has a throne or of Kolob is a star system where God's planet is.
Most Mormon Men are Also the Mormon Priests and Bishops
The Mormon church is unusual in that it has no professional priesthood. All males are priests and bishops, holding the same religious authority as we find with the priests and bishops of churches like the Catholic Church.
Mormons Don't Believe in the Trinity, God as Three-Persons-In-One
Mormon doctrine does not accept the validity of the traditional Christian concept of the Trinity: God as three persons in one. Because the Trinity is a dubious concept in the first place and has little biblical justification, this is arguably an improvement. It does, however, raise questions about how Christian Mormonism really is.
Mormons Believe There are Multiple Worlds with Multiple Gods
Mormon doctrine teaches that there are multiple worlds out there, full of human beings, each ruled over by its own god. Moreover, that god used to be human as well and 'progressed' to the point of becoming god, just like the God of Mormonism.
Argument Against the Person - Argumentum ad hominem
Even people who don't know much at all about logical fallacies are probably familiar with the ad hominem fallacy. This fallacy occurs whenever someone tries to rebut an argument by focusing on the person making the argument rather than on the qualities of the argument itself.
How and Why Did a Snake Have the Ability to Talk?
The Bible says that a talking snake tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, but talking animals only exist in fables and fairy tales. It's absurd to believe that a talking snake would have really existed but that's exactly what biblical literalists expect people to believe. Snakes don't talk now and they have never talked.
Myth: Atheism Is Incompatible With Belief in Souls or Spirits
Atheists don't believe in any gods and some conclude that atheists therefore cannot believe in anything supernatural or paranormal, including souls or spirits. Such beliefs may be rare among secular atheists in the West, but such beliefs are not excluded by atheism. An atheist can believe in souls or spirits so long as the belief doesn't depend upon the existence of any gods.
Myth: Atheism is Incompatible with Free Will and Moral Choice
Many religious theists, especially Christians, argue that only their religion creates a secure foundation for free will and thus also the ability to make moral choices. The point of this argument is to prove that atheism is incompatible with free will and moral choices - and, by implication, morality itself.
Mormons Believe Human Life Begins Before Conception with Spirit Children in Heaven
Mormons believe we existed prior to being born or conceived because we were spirit children of God and his wife or wives. We are thus all literally brothers and sisters, created out of eternal intelligences that existed prior to God.
Introduction to the Book of Esther of the Old Testament
The Book of Esther tells the story of a woman named Esther who, despite being Jewish, becomes Queen of Persia. As Queen, she prevents all the Jews from being killed and today her achievement is celebrated by Jews with the holiday of Purim
Introduction to the Book of Job of the Old Testament
The Book of Job is recounts the story of Job, a wealthy and happy man who loses everything while God and Satan test his faith. After his loses everything and his family all die, his friends tell him that the fault must be his and God says he can do whatever he wants.
Introduction to the Book of Nehemiah of the Old Testament
The Book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament tells the story about how Jewish exiles return to Jerusalem from Babylon and rebuild the city, physically and politically. It's also about purifying the people and restoring the Jews' covenant with Yahweh.
Introduction to the Book of Psalms of the Old Testament
The Book of Psalms is one of the most read and most quote books of the Old Testament. It's a collection of poems and songs representing ever facet of ancient Jewish religious ritual and observance.
Fallacies of Ambiguity Index - Logical Fallacies of Linguistic and Grammatical Ambiguity
People commit a fallacy of ambiguity whenever some aspect of language, grammar, or definition is ambiguous rather than defined clearly - usually in an argument's premises or conclusion. For an argument to be valid and sound, everything must be used consistently throughout.
The Book of Ezra - Twelfth Book of the Old Testament
The Book of Ezra in the Old Testament tells the story about how Judean exiles return to Jerusalem from Babylon and purify the city of all the violations against Yahweh's commands.
Mormons Believe God was a Man who Lived on Another Planet
Mormons believe that God was once a mortal man just like human beings on earth today. This is connected to the Mormon belief that all men on earth today can themselves become gods one day.
Mormons Do Not Believe God Created the Universe
Mormons believe that God existed in a primordial universe composed of eternal truths, intelligences, matter, laws, and principles. God didn't create any of this, but was able to use it all.
Atheists & Purpose - Do Atheists & Agnostics Have Purpose & Meaning in Life?
Most atheists and agnostics in America say that they have a clear purpose in their lives, but far fewer than the national average say that they are driving to have a clear purpose in their lives. Far fewer atheist and agnostics than Christians say that they are at peace in their lives. Why do these differences exist?
Absurdity of the Forbidden Fruit - Why Put a Tree of Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden?
If humans weren't supposed to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, why did God put the tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden then make it look appealing to eat? It's absurd to put something forbidden in a central, prominent location then make it look especially attractive. If something is forbidden, you hide it or at least put it in some out of the way location and you certainly don't make it look appealing or attractive.
Milk Before Meat: Why are Mormons Vague or Elusive About Controversial Mormon Teachings?
Mormons aren't usually very clear and specific when it comes to explaining some of their more controversial and unusual beliefs - especially to outsiders. Why? Because they are taught in their missionary training to be vague.
Religious and Non-Religious Attitudes Towards Sex and Guilt
Traditional religions tend to promote a lot of different sex-negative dogmas. This produces a lot of guilt in people who are inclined to engage in natural behaviors or do things which are entirely appropriate. People are much more likely to report feeling guilty if they rely on religion for moral guidance than if they rely on their own reason.
Excusing Genocide - How Modern Christians Excuse and Justify Genocide
Because Christians treat the Jewish scriptures as holy, they must contend with the morality of behavior depicted in those scriptures — both the behavior of those characters held up as exemplary and the behavior of Yahweh. How Christians deal with the issues raised can tell us a lot about Christianity and Christians.
Liberal Atheists vs. Conservative Christians - Atheists More Liberal than Evangelical Christians
Atheists in America tend to be very liberal; evangelical Christians in America tend to be very conservative. This means that debates between atheists and evangelical Christians over gods and religion also become debates between liberal atheists and conservative Christians over all sorts of political and social issues.
Moon is Not a Light - Errors in Genesis About the Light of the Moon
Genesis, the first book of the Bible, makes a scientific error by describing the moon as a light. In Genesis, God is depicted as creating two lights for the sky: the greater light is the sun and the lesser light is the moon. This contradicts what we know from science, though, because the moon is not a light like the sun. The moon only reflects light from the sun. It's an error to claim that the moon is any sort of source of light like the sun and stars are.
Why Punish the Snake for Telling Truth to Adam & Eve?
In Genesis, God punishes the snake for convincing Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, even though it doesn't look like the snake did anything wrong. If the snake did nothing wrong, then it wasn't just or moral to punish him. What do you think - was it just or moral to punish the snake? If so, why?
What Is Anti-Atheist Bigotry? Examples of Bigotry Against Atheists
The strength of anti-atheist bigotry in America is undeniable. Surveys regularly show that atheists are the most despised and distrusted minority in the nation. But how exactly does this anti-atheist bigotry manifest? How do religious theists - Christians, primarily - express or act on their bigotry towards atheists? What does anti-atheist bigotry in America look like?
Is Agnosticism a Religion? Agnosticism is Epistemology, Not Religious
Because of agnosticism's place in debates about religion, some may get the impression agnosticism itself is some sort of religion. No one with a decent understanding of either agnosticism or religion accepts such a conclusion. Agnosticism is fundamentally a question of epistemology, not of religion.
Is Reproduction Good or Bad? Bible is Inconsistent on Whether Reproduction is Good
The Bible is inconsistent on whether human reproduction is good or not. Genesis depicts God ordering the first humans to reproduce; in fact, the command to 'be fruitful and multiply' is sometimes treated as a command to have lots of children. Leviticus, in contrast, has God treating human reproduction as 'unclean' in a way that makes it seem like a sin or disease. So is reproduction good or bad?
Punishing Adam & Eve - Why Punish People Who Can't Comprehend Right or Wrong?
Genesis depicts God as punishing Adam and Eve for eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Since Adam and Eve didn't comprehend good or evil, though, then they couldn't comprehend that it was good to obey or wrong to disobey. They lacked the capacity to understand what they were doing, which means it was immoral and unjust to punish them.
Agnostic Theist - Dictionary Definition
An agnostic theist is someone as one who believes in the existence of a god but who does not claim to know for sure that this god definitely exists. This definition makes it clear that being an agnostic is not incompatible with being a theist.
When Did God Separate Day & Night? Contradictions in Genesis on Day & Night
Genesis has contradictory statements on God creating light and separating day from night. First Genesis says that God created light then divided light from dark on the first day. Later, though, Genesis says that God created the sun on the fourth day - but for us, it is precisely the sun which creates our light and which separates our day from our night. So when did God really separate day from night?
When Did God Create the Stars? Bible Contradiction on When the Stars Were Created
The Bible has contradictory accounts of when the stars were created. The first creation story in Genesis says that the stars were created on the fourth day, the day after the earth was created. Job, however, says that at the time the corner stone of the earth was laid, the stars already existed. So when exactly did God create the stars: before or after God created the earth?
What is Irreligion? What is Irreligious?
Irreligion is defined as the absence of religion and/or an indifference towards religion. Sometimes it may also be defined more narrowly as hostility towards religion. This definition marks irreligion as distinct from atheism and theism. A theist may be religious or irreligious; an atheist may also be religious or irreligious. This definition of irreligion means that it's more of an attitude towards religion rather than an actual religious position.
What Is a Freethinker?
A freethinker is defined as one who arrives at their beliefs through the use of reason, science, logic, and empiricism rather than by relying on dogma.
What is Freethought?
Freethought is defined as the process of making decisions and arriving at beliefs without relying solely upon tradition, dogma, or the opinions of authorities. Freethought thus means using science, logic, empiricism, and reason in belief formation Usually the context of freethought is religion, but this definition of freethought can be applied to other areas as well like politics, consumer choices, the paranormal, etc.
Pragmatic Agnosticism - Dictionary Definition
Pragmatic agnosticism is the position that you can't know for sure if any gods exist and, even if gods of some sort do exist, they don't seem to care about us enough to justify worrying about them.
What is Anti-Clericalism?
Anti-clericalism is defined as a historical or contemporary movement that is opposed to the power and influence of religious institutions in secular, civil affairs. This definition encompasses opposition to power that is real or merely alleged, religious institutions of all sorts (not just churches), and institutions' influence in legal, social, and cultural matters. Some anti-clericalism is focused solely on churches and church hierarchies, but other forms are broader.
Myth: Atheism Leads to Hopelessness and Despair, Atheism is Depressing - Do Atheists Have No Hope, Nothing to Look Forward To Without God?
For many people, their religion teaches that their god gives them purpose in life and offers them something to look forward to after they die - something that is important because, so often, these religions teach adherents that their actual lives right now aren't of much value. Therefore, anyone who doesn't follow this religion and who doesn't believe in their god must not have purpose in life and must not have anything to look forward to. All of this is wrong, not to mention arrogant.
Congressional Chaplains - Are Official Congressional Chaplains Constitutional?
Government sponsored chaplains have been with us since the beginning. Committees 'to take under consideration the manner of electing Chaplains' were set up in the Senate on April 7, 1789 and in the House of Representatives on April 9, 1789. It did not take these committees long to reach a decision, and both chambers appointed chaplains April 25 and May 1, 1789, respectively. A statute providing for the payment of chaplains was enacted into law on September 22, 1789. Page 2.
Military Chaplains - Are Official Military Chaplains Constitutional?
It's easier to defend the existence of military chaplain than it is for congressional chaplains. Personnel stationed on a military base may not be able to travel to religious services elsewhere, especially if the base has a remote location. In time of war, it may be impossible to reach a priest or rabbi from the front lines or a hospital bed. If the government forces people into such situations, then perhaps the government should protect their ability to exercise their religion. Page 3.
Prison Chaplains - Are Official Prison Chaplains Constitutional?
The argument for the constitutionality of prison chaplains is similar to that of military chaplains: when people are forced by the government to leave their religious communities,, then not providing them with spiritual counseling would constitute an infringement on their rights to freely exercise their religious beliefs. People in prison or jail aren't given choice, but being in prison doesn't erase all constitutional rights - including the right to free exercise of their religion. Page 4.
What Is an Antitheist? Who Are Antitheists?
Antitheist is generally defined as one who is opposed to belief in the existence of gods but can also be defined as one who is opposed to God or gods as well. The primary definition means that an antitheist argues for ending the belief in gods, not merely that belief in gods is irrational, mistaken, or a bad idea. The second definition allows for one to believe in the existence of a god, but requires believing that this god is evil in some fashion and thus must be opposed.
Government Chaplains - Are Official Government Chaplains Constitutional?
Public funding of chaplains in the military, Congress, and other areas like prisons and the police creates a challenge for church/state separation. The existence of government chaplains doesn't prove that church and state are not or should not be separated, especially if these government chaplains should not exist. Opponents of church/state separation who base their arguments on the existence of government chaplains rarely do much to explain why the state should pay for chaplains at all.
What is a Fundamentalist Atheist?
Fundamentalist atheist is defined as an atheist with a rigid, intolerant, and dogmatic adherence to atheism or an atheistic ideology. The theory behind this definition is that there exists a religious fundamentalism which is atheistic and which atheists adhere to much like some Christians adhere their own fundamentalist Christianity.
What is a Pragmatic Atheist? Who are Pragmatic Atheists?
A pragmatic atheist is defined as one who rejects belief in gods because believing in gods is unnecessary for any pragmatic, important part of one's life. This definition of pragmatic atheist is derived from the application of the philosophy of Pragmatism to the question of whether any gods exist. A pragmatic atheist is thus both a Pragmatist and an atheist. Pragmatic atheists do not positively assert that any gods do or do not exist.
What is a Apatheist? Who are Apatheists?
An apatheist is defined as a person who is apathetic towards belief and disbelief in gods. This definition of apatheist is derived from the fact that apatheist is a portmanteau of apathy and theist / atheist. An apatheist can be described as one for whom neither the existence nor the nonexistence of gods is important, thus neither belief in nor denial of gods is important.
How is Junk DNA Biochemical Evidence for Evolution?
The most interesting genetic homologies are in junk DNA. Often called
What is a Positive Atheist? Who are Positive Atheists?
A positive atheist is defined as one who claims no gods exist or who denies that the claim 'at least one god exists' is false. This definition of positive atheist is often confused with the definition of atheist generally but this is mistaken; the definition of positive atheist is a subset of atheists and closely parallels related terms like strong atheist.
What is Practical Atheism?
Practical atheism is defined as disbelief in or rejection of gods as a matter of practice if not necessarily theory. This definition of practical atheism focuses on the idea that one disregards gods and the existence of gods in day-to-day living but doesn't necessarily reject the existence of gods when it comes to professed beliefs. Thus a person might profess theism, but in practice be closer to atheism.
What is a Practical Atheist? Who are Practical Atheists?
A practical atheist is defined as one who disbelieves in or rejects the existence of gods as a matter of practice if not necessarily theory. This definition of practical atheist focuses on the idea that one disregards belief in gods and the existence of gods in day-to-day living but doesn't necessarily reject the existence of gods when it comes to professed beliefs. Thus a person might say they are a theist, but the way they live means they are indistinguishable from atheists.
What is Positive Atheism?
Positive atheism is defined as the positive that claim no gods exist or the denial that the claim
What is Negative Atheism?
Negative atheism is defined as any sort of atheism or non-theism where a person doesn't believe in the existence of any gods yet does not necessarily make the positive claim that gods definitely do not exist. This definition of negative atheism closely parallels the broad, general definition of atheism itself as well as similar terms like implicit atheism, weak atheism, and soft atheism.
Should Atheists Challenge Nativity Scenes during Christmas?
Every Christmas there are debates about nativity displays on public property. Conservative Christians push to have their religion privileged with special religious displays; atheists and secularists challenge nativity scenes, sometimes filing lawsuits to either have creches removed or for the public spaces to be opened to all citizens equally. But should atheists do this?
Direct Evidence for Evolution
The direct evidence for common descent and evolution are enabling evidences. They demonstrate that common descent is possible and maybe even likely. However, they don't conclusively show that common descent occurred because no one was actually there to observe it over such a long period of time (the same problem that exists when there is no direct eyewitness in a murder trial).
Is There Evidence for Evolution (Common Descent)?
In debates over evolution and creationism, it is common for creationists' to demand for
What is Weak Atheism?
Weak atheism is defined as simply the absence of belief in gods or the absence of theism. This is also the broad, general definition of atheism. The definition of weak atheism is used as a contrast to the definition of strong atheism, which is the positive assertion that no gods exist. All atheists are necessarily weak atheists because by definition all atheists do not believe in any gods; only some go on to assert that some or no gods exist.
Atheism in Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece was an exciting time for ideas and philosophy - perhaps for the first time there developed a social system sufficiently advanced to let people to sit around and think about difficult topics for a living. It's no surprise that people thought about traditional notions of gods and religion, but not everyone decided in favor of tradition. Few if any could strictly be called atheist philosophers, but they were skeptics who were critical of traditional religion.
What is a Strong Atheist? Who are Strong Atheists?
A strong atheist is defined as an atheist who positively asserts that no god or gods exist. The definition of strong atheist is sometimes confused with the definition of atheist. Whereas a strong atheist asserts that no gods exist, the definition of atheist is merely one who does not believe in the existence of any gods. The definition of atheist is broad whereas the definition of strong atheist is narrow.
What is Strong Atheism?
Strong atheism is defined either as the general position that denies the existence of any gods or the limited position that denies the existence of some specific god (but not necessarily others). The first definition is the most common and what most people understand as the definition of strong atheism. The second definition is used is specific contexts when trying to explain atheists' varying approaches to the question of the existence of gods.
Atheists Happiness Satisfaction Survey
According to some surveys, atheists and agnostics in America aren't as happy or satisfied in their lives as are Christians. If these results are accurate, what would explain them? Is there something about atheism that makes a person less happy or does the cause lie somewhere else?
Appeal to Force/Fear - Argumentum ad Baculum
The Appeal to Force or Fear occurs whenever someone makes an implicit or explicit threat in order to get you to accept their conclusion. Sometimes the threat might be one of violence but it can also be a threat against your happiness or well-being generally.
Atheists, Wealth, and Comfort - Importance of Wealth & Comfort Among Atheists & Agnostics (Barna, 2007 & 2008)
Atheists and agnostics have different personal and lifestyle priorities in America from religious theists. Atheists and agnostics care more about living in comfort and acquiring wealth. This suggests that atheists are more materialistic and even hedonistic than religious theists, but the actual numbers are still very small in both absolute and relative senses.
"As a Christian...My Lord and Savior Was a Fighter" - Hitler
What did Adolf Hitler think about Jesus Christ? According to Hitler's own words: 'My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter.'
Literary Existentialism: Existentialist Thought in Literature
Because existentialism is treated as a 'lived' philosophy that is understood and explored through how one lives one's life rather than a 'system' that must be studied from books, it is not unexpected that much existentialist thought can be found in literary form (novels, plays) and not just in the traditional philosophical treatises. Indeed, some of the most important examples of existentialist writing are literary rather than purely philosophical.
Is The Watchtower Society Too Controlling of Jehovah's Witnesses?
Most Jehovah's Witnesses will object when someone accuses the Watchtower Society of being too controlling. They say members are free to leave whenever they like and no one is forcing them to do anything. So how could any reasonable person accuse the Society of being too controlling unless the accuser is bitter about some past slight, envious of it's dedication to God, or misinformed? It's true that Witnesses can stop going to meetings, but only if they're willing to suffer the consequences.
Why Irrational Belief is Praiseworthy in Christianity
Many Christians think it right to provide evidence to nonbelievers of the existence of their god. If a person believes based on good evidence, though, is that praiseworthy? Demons have 'good evidence' of God's existence - would Christians praise them for this?
Fascism as a Restoration of Religious Values and a Moral Crusade
Many people have wondered, quite legitimately, how fascism could ever be appealing enough to develop a large following. The answer to this question is both simple and disturbing: wherever it appears, fascism often promises people (primarily religious and cultural conservatives) what they want most, which is a moral crusade for the restoration of traditional religious values.
What Does it Mean to be a Christian Nation?
America's Christian Right likes to talk a lot about how America is a 'Christian' Nation. Do you ever see them explaining exactly what they mean, though? No. The fact of the matter is, 'Christian' has a lot of different possible meanings, many of which are contradictory. Either the Christian Right is ignorant of this fact or, more likely, they are using the ambiguity for political purposes.
So-Called 'Balance' when Debating Homosexuality
When was the last time you saw a discussion in the media over some issue of gay rights where both sides accepted the full humanity and equality of gays, but simply differed on the details of specific policies? On the other hand, when was the last time one of those invited to speak on the issue didn't believe, and probably said outright, that their position was that gays are an abomination?
Hate the Sin, Hate the Sinner
It's common for Christians to claim that they 'hate the sin, but lover the sinner.' Do their actions match their rhetoric, though?
Correlation vs. Causation Fallacies
Determining the nature of causation is very difficult. Sometimes a cause and effect are closely related - spatially, temporally or both - but sometimes they are not. Just because two events correlate (are close in time or space) does not mean that one has caused the other. The Latin term for such an error is called
Religious Conscience vs. Public Duties for Christians
When and how did it start to seem more reasonable or appropriate to some Christians that they should hold on to their comforts, positions, and privileges while others are forced to suffer for the maintenance of Christians' consciences?
Ten Commandments - Monuments, Displays, Church, and State
Should displays of the Ten Commandments be allowed in public buildings, or would that be a violation of the separation of church and state? Should large monuments be erected on the grounds of courthouses or legislative buildings? Should there be posters of them in schools and other municipal buildings? Or do such displays all violate the separation of church and state?
Sex & Interrogation of Witches: Did Witches Symbolize Female Sexuality and Power to a Patriarchal Church?
It witches and witchcraft have become imbued with an identity that reaches far beyond their own existence, if they have become a symbol for something larger for Christians, then what are they a symbol of? It seems to me that witches served a symbolic role for the male, celibate religious authorities in Europe. Witches were not simply adherents to an alternative religiosity, and they certainly weren't turning whole towns into toads. Page 8.
Joan of Arc, Witch and Heretic: Powerful Women Had to Fear the Accusation of Witchcraft
Although accusations of witchcraft seem to have been most commonly made against older women who lived on the margins of society and who may have become socially troublesome, there is also evidence that women who were too powerful could become targets as well. Joan of Arc is one famous example of a woman who achieved a great deal but was then burned as a witch for her trouble. Page 9.
Witch Hunts & Persecution in America: Salem as an Iconic Example of Social Persecution
As most Americans know, witch hunts also affected the American colonies. The Salem witch trials pursued the Massachusetts Puritans have entered American consciousness as being much more then just the killing of witches. They, like the trials of Europe, have become a symbol. In our case, the witch trials have become a symbol of what can go wrong when mobs of ignorant people go crazy, especially when egged on by just as ignorant and/or power hungry leaders. Page 11.
Torture & Sexual Repression: How the Torture of Witches Revealed the Sexual Repression of Inquisitors
Interrogations of witches followed many standard Inquisition procedures, but with some added bonuses. Accused witches were all stripped naked, had all of their body hair shaved of, and then pricked. Red-hot tongs were applied to womens' breasts and genitalia. Researcher Nancy van Vuuren has written that 'The women's sex organs provided special attraction for the male torturer.'. Page 7.
Confessing Witches: Under Torture, Accused Witches Would Confess to Almost Anything
Confessions of witchcraft, extracted under torture or threat of torture, commonly came attached to denouncements of other possible witches, keeping the Inquisitors in business. In Spain, church records tell the story of Maria of Ituren admitting under torture that she and sister witches turned themselves into horses and galloped through the sky. In a district of France, 600 women admitted to copulating with demons. Some entire villages in Europe were may have been exterminated. Page 6.
Witches, Misogyny, and Patriarchy: How Misogynistic Attitudes Fed the Fear of Witches
Women were regarded as impediments to true spirituality and union with God, which helps explain why investigators focused on women more than men. The church had a long-standing prejudice against women, and this was given vent when the doctrine of devil worship was emphasized as an enemy which the church had to confront and destroy. This animus hasn't entirely disappeared even today. Page 5.
Executing Witches and Eliminating Witchcraft: Killing Witches as the Best Way to Kill Witchcraft
Burning and hanging were the most popular forms of execution for accused witches in medieval Europe. Burning seems to have been most common in continental Europe while hanging was more common in Britain -- and thus also in the American colonies later as well. The death penalty was imposed on a wide variety of crimes in this era, but witchcraft in particular was punished by death on the basis of Exodus 22:18. Page 10.
Church Depictions of Witches & Witchcraft: Christian Fiction & Prejudice, not Reality or Real Practices
Portrayals of witchcraft in church records can be very amusing. Almost everything that was 'known' at the time about witches was pure fiction, inventions by church authorities who were told that witches were a threat and so had to come up with something to describe. Their creations have passed on into popular cultural images of witches which continue to this day. Page 2.
Witchcraft and the Inquisition: Using the Inquisition to Suppress Dissent & Outsiders
People typically fear that which they don't understand, so witches were doubly damned: they were feared because they were allegedly agents of Satan seeking to undermine Christian society and they were feared because no one really knew what witches did or how. In the place of real knowledge or information, Christian leaders made things up and created stories which were certain to cause people to hate and fear witches even more.
Witchcraft & Satanism: Linking Witches & Satan out of Ignorance, to Encourage Fear and Hatred
Religious and political authorities of various eras and different cultures have always found it convenient to associate their enemies with the worst possible evil they could imagine. In the Christian west, this generally meant associating enemies with Satan. These sort of extreme demonization allows a person to stop seeing their enemy as entirely human and the conflict as something which does not require mercy, traditionally just procedures, or anything of the kind. Page 3.
Witches and Scapegoats: Persecuting & Prosecuting Witches as a Way of Attacking Social Problems
Jews and heretics were often treated as scapegoats for other social problems and witches ended up no different. Regions with the most social and political unrest also happened to be those with the greatest problem with witches. Every social, political, and natural problem was blamed on witches. Crop failure? Witches did it. Well gone bad? Witches poisoned it. Political unrest and rebellion? Witches are behind it. Strife in the community? Witches are influencing people. Page 12.
Persecuting Witches & Persecuting Women: Witchcraft as a Means for Subduing Female Influences
It would be a mistake to assert that the Christian persecution of witches and witchcraft was nothing but an attempt to suppress women and feminine influences. Christian society, politics, and theology at the time simply wasn't that simplistic. At the same time, it's hard to overestimate the role misogynistic attitudes and repressed male sexuality played in the persecution of witches. Page 4.
Ten Commandments & Law: Social, Political, and Legal Issues
The Ten Commandants are first and foremost a religious document, describing the covenental relationship between the Jews and their god. It is, however, a religious document with many social and religious implications. Such implications are obvious in the case of the Jews themselves since the commandments serve to constrain what sorts of social and political options might be available to them. There are also implications for societies in which non-Jews take the Ten Commandments very seriously and think that others should as well.
Godless Liberals, Godless Liberalism, Godless Politics, Secularism: Secular Democracy, Religious Freedom, Individual Rights, Liberty
Politics in America is a very religious affair: religion infuses politics to a degree not found in most other industrialized nations of the West. The label godless, and especially godless liberal, are epithets to be avoided. The truth is that there is nothing about being a godless liberal or having a secular democracy which is incompatible with the basic political values of America: individual rights, religious liberty, and personal autonomy.
Philosophical Schools and Systems: History, Background, Profiles of Schools of Though and Systems in Philosophy
Philosophy is not a monolithic field. In addition to being divided into different branches of inquiry, each branch has it’s own schools of thought and systems. These schools or systems are coherent ideologies or trends which inform how people answer the questions asked in philosophy. Disagreements in philosophy often revolve around differences between philosophical schools of thought; thus understanding what various schools teach is important in understanding philosophical debates.
Atheism History - History of Atheism, Atheists, Freethinking
The history of atheism covers atheists through history, developments in atheists' critiques of religion and theism, the history of skepticism of religion, and more. The more you learn about the history of atheism, the more you see that atheists' critiques of religion today are not new; on the contrary, many critiques today have ancient pedigrees.
Atheists & Agnostics in America - Statistics about American Atheists & Agnostics
Atheists are growing in numbers in America, but just who are all these atheists? What do atheists and agnostics in America believe? What matters to them and what do they hold important? Numerous polls and surveys have produced an array of statistical information about the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of atheists and agnostics in America.
About Objectivism, Objectivists, and Objectivist Philosophy
Although it has other meanings in philosophy, here we are talking about Objectism as the name chosen by Ayn Rand for her philosophical system. Rand wanted to develop a philosophy that was all about living freely. The central tenets of her philosophical system can be stated as: Reality is, independent of our desires or prejudices; the best means for comprehending reality is thorugh our mind and reasoning abilities; that morality is best judged by what promotes human happiness and survival; political and social harmony are best achieved through freedom and voluntary associations.
Christian Denominations: Sects, Groups, Movements, Denominations
There are a wide variety of groups associated with Christianity. There are official denominations, break-away sects, orthodox movements within denominations and sects, heretical movements, and extra-church groups which have associated themselves with Christianity. If you have ever wondered what some of them are and what they believe, this listing will help.
Law & Civil Liberties: Legal and Political Issues Today
Should you have a reasonable expectation of being free from government observation of your political activities? Is freedom of speech an absolute right, or are there legitimate reasons for restricting it? What role does the media play in promoting free speech and in informing the public? Should abortion be a right or a crime? These are a few of the issues addressed in the books reviewed here.
Religious Holidays: Religion, Ritual, and Holy Days in Religion
Holidays are seasonal rituals which can serve to regulate and structure life. Rituals can be important because they are often important means of social communication. We cannot, after all, observe relationships - what we observe is people's behavior towards one another. Very often, that behavior takes place in the context of
Bible Contradictions & Inconsistencies - Contradictions & Inconsistencies in the Bible
Believers who claim that the Bible has no contradictions or inconsistencies are wrong. The Bible is full of contradictions and inconsistencies, just as we would expect of a collection of books written by many people, edited by many others, and all over a span of many centuries. Biblical contradictions and inconsistencies are easy to find and explain, if you're willing to pay attention.
American Religion: Religious Groups, History, Beliefs in America
The United States of America is the most religious and most religiously diverse of all Western industrialized nations. American political and social history are indecipherable without references to its religious history, so influential have religious groups and ideology been over the centuries. Particularly interesting is the fact that his religious diversity and religious devotion is enhanced by the traditional separation of church and state - something which conservative religious groups seek to undermine.
Atheism FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions About Atheism, Atheists
There are always a lot of questions about atheism and atheists. It's not as though atheism is a complex subject, but perhaps the simplicity of atheism confuses people who assume that it has to be harder than it really is. Collected here are some of the most common and popular questions people ask about atheism and atheists.
Roman Catholicism: Catholic Beliefs, Faith, and History
The Roman Catholic Church is a Christian denomination of believers who are
Adolf Hitler, Nazi Germany: Christian Nationalism, Christian Anti-Semitism, Anti-Communism
The Nazis and Adolf Hitler are commonly thought of as representing the antithesis of Christianity and Christian values. If that's true, why did tens of millions of German Christians adore Hitler, join the Nazis, and participate in the Holocaust (among other atrocities)? Hitler and the Nazis promoted a Christian nationalism, anti-communism, anti-Semitism, and return to traditional values which most Christians appreciated. The Nazi party platform specifically endorsed 'positive' Christianity.
Christianity & Violence: History of Violent Actions and Hatred
It's ironic that a religion which proclaims Absolute Love as its basis should spawn so much unmitigated hatred and violence. Is it simply that Christianity is a failure in inspiring better conduct from otherwise hopelessly evil human beings, or is there some aspect of Christianity which in fact encourages or promotes some of the baser aspects of human behavior? Perhaps it is a bit of both.
About Existentialism, Existentialists, and Existentialist Philosophy
Existential philosophy is more a trend or attitude than it is coherent school or movement because it is intensely subjective. As a result, existentialist thinkers tend to vary greatly in their concerns and ultimate conclusions. In general, existentialism emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe while denying any special or unique essence that humans might have.
Flag Burning & Desecration: Should the American Flag be Protected from Burning, Desecration, Defacement, Defiling?
Many want to use the law to criminalize desecration of the American flag. Politicians are eager to exploit this for political gain. Most people only have flag burning in mind when they attack desecration, but the concept covers: defacing the flag by putting words or marks on it, using the flag in commercial advertisements, burning photos of flags, and more. Courts have ruled such law an infringement on free speech rights, so there are efforts to amend the Constitution to change the rules.
Types of Atheism FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions About Types of Atheism
Because atheism is defined broadly as the absence of belief in gods, there are many different adjectives that can be applied to atheism to describe different types of atheists. The types of atheism or atheists refer to how they arrived at their atheism, how they think about their atheism, and the relationship of their atheism to a broader philosophy.
Bible Contradictions in Genesis - Contradictions in Genesis, First Book of the Bible
Contradictions in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, are contradictions in the traditional creation story of Christianity and Judaism as well as contradictions in many of the foundational stories behind both of those religions. These are contradictions, errors, and inconsistencies in the most basic stories behind many of the most basic doctrines, dogmas, and assumptions which Christians and Jews take for granted. The are thus contradictions in the essence of those religions.
Bible Errors in Genesis - Errors & Mistakes in Genesis, First Book of the Bible
Errors and mistakes in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, are errors and mistakes in the traditional creation story of Christianity and Judaism as well as in the foundational stories behind both those religions. The errors and mistakes in Genesis are thus errors and mistakes in the basic stories behind the basic doctrines, dogmas, and assumptions which Christians and Jews take for granted. That makes them errors and mistakes in the essence of those religions.
How Americans Believe in God - Surveys & Polls on How Americans Believe in God
Large numbers of people in America believe in God, but what exactly do they believe in? What do Americans mean when they say they believe in God, have faith in God, or pray to God? It won't surprise any atheists to learn that Americans vary greatly in what they mean and, therefore, what they believe. The differences in these beliefs are important because they have significant implications for political, social, and economic beliefs.
Bible Absurdities in Genesis - Absurd and Silly Passages in Genesis, First Book of the Bible
There are numerous absurd and silly things in Genesis, the first book of the Bible — stories, actions, ideas, and commands at the heart of Judaism, Christianity, Islam which just don't make any sense. They would be laughed at in any other context. Something in Genesis is absurd or silly when it defies common sense, basic logic, or any semblance of reality.
Genesis Justice & Morality - Passages Illustrating Ideas of Justice & Morality in Genesis
The Bible as a whole is treated as a primary source of standard for morality and justice in our world today. The Book of Genesis, being the first book of the Bible, contains numerous foundational stories for morality and justice. Many famous stories can be found in Genesis and these stories have been used for millennia to teach principles of faith, morality, and justice - but how moral or just are these stories, really?
Bigotry & Discrimination Against Atheists & Godless Liberals in America
Critics pretend that godless Americans are part of a massive conspiracy to deny Christians their religious liberties. The truth is that the godless are a small minority in America with relatively little influence or power. Godless atheists are the most despised and distrusted minority in the nation. Circumstances for them can be difficult enough that they have to stay in the closet and hide their atheism from friends and family. When was the last time a Christian in America had to do that?
Myths & Misunderstandings About the Separation of Church and State
When discussing the separation of church and state, it becomes clear that there is a lot of misinformation, misunderstandings, and myths floating around. It simply isn't possible to have a reasonable understanding about the nature of how religion and government should interact when people do not have all of the facts - or, even worse, when what they think are facts turn out to simply be errors.
Creationism & Intelligent Design: What is Creationism? Who are Creationists?
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.
Gay Rights, Marriage & Homophobia: Ethical & Political Considerations
Those who oppose gay marriage do so with a vehemence: it's not simply that they would rather not see gay marriage exist, but rather that they regard gay rights as perhaps the greatest moral and social evil to occur since the legalization of abortion. They cannot be dismissed as mere cranks - it is important to understand what their arguments are in order to determine how good their case against gay rights is and to refute it if their position is unsound.
History of the Bible
Select annotated links to the history of the Bible.
Religious Humor: Jokes and Satire Dealing with Religion & Religious Beliefs
Religious Humor - parodies and jokes on churches, gods, religions and more.
Criticizing Islam, Islamism & Muslims: Evaluating the History & Beliefs of Islam with a Critical, Skeptical Perspective
What is Islam? What do Muslims believe? Is Islam a violent or a peaceful religion? In scholarship of Islam, traditionalists confine themselves to Muslim sources and take them at face value, accepting as true whatever they claim to be true. Articles here adopt a more critical and skeptical perspective. Not all criticisms of Islam are correct, but neither are all defenses of Islam and Muslim behavior. There is much in Islam that is wrong, incorrect, and unethical.
What is Liberation Atheology? What are the Goals of Liberation Atheology?
Given religion's role in preserving, defending, and justifying oppressive systems and ideologies, nothing progressive and no liberation can be achieved without taking on religion first. Even progressive believers have had to start with criticism of their own traditions. Liberation atheology stops trying to replace a bad religious system with a slightly less worse one. Instead, the goal is to reveal how oppression depends on religious beliefs which should be dispensed with anyway.
Comparative Religions: Comparing and Contrasting Different Religions
Instead of looking at religion in isolation, it is possible to look at them collectively and compare/contrast faiths from around the world in a variety of ways.
Atheism Blogs - Blogs for Atheists, on Atheism, by Atheists & Freethinkers
Blogs are a great way for people to express themselves and communicate their ideas. Naturally, there are quite a few blogs out there which not only deal with atheism and agnosticism, but also provide interesting critiques of religion and religious beliefs.
Baptists & Southern Baptists: Baptist Churches, Beliefs, History
Although Baptist churches have been continually fractured and divided over the centuries, there are a number of broad characteristics which are common to most if not all. These characteristics include adult baptism through full immersion, evangelism, pietism, and sectarianism. All of these are intimately related to another characteristic: radical volunatrism and the independence of local churches.
Christian Extremism: Extremist and Violent Christianity
Many people regard Christianity as a religion of love, peace, and tolerance - but that isn't always the case. For some Christians, their religion is one of force, hatred, and intolerance. They refuse to accept others and equals and so wish to impose their beliefs - or kill in the process, if necessary. Learn about the extremists and extremism of Christianity.
Christianity - Jehovah's Witnesses
A minority Christian sect which has suffered greatly from persecution from other Christians. On the one hand, they have odd beliefs and their religion can be very controlling. On the other, they make no attempts to impose their beliefs on others.
Harry Potter: Religion, Philosophy, Ethics, and the Harry Potter Books by J.K. Rowling
Fundamentalists and conservative evangelical Christians in America have become fierce opponents of the Harry Potter books written by J.K. Rowling. Christians try to ban the books from school libraries, write nasty letters to newspapers, and claim that the books promote witchcraft over genuine Christianity. How justified are the arguments against Harry Potter? Perhaps there is more to the Harry Potter stories than the witches and wizards we see at first glance.
Islamism, Islam, Politics: Islamization of Society and the Fight Against Secular Modernity
Critiques of Islamic history, societies and politics - including examinations of how Islam interacts with democracy, secularization, tolerance, blasphemy and more.
Islamic Sects & Groups: Divisions and Disagreements Among Muslims
Islam is not an entirely unified religion, presenting a single, monolithic face to the world. Islam does not have as many sects and divisions as does Christianity, but there are a few and it is worth knowing something about them. The two biggest are the Sunnis and the Shi'ites, with the Sunnis being the largest of all and representing the vast majority of Muslims.
Jehovah's Witnesses, Watchtower Bible & Tract Society
Jehovah's Witnesses, formally known as the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, are a small Christian sect best known for preaching door-to-door and an unusual interpretation of the Bible. Jehovah's Witnesses see themselves as the restoration of true Christianity, and denounce other religions as part of Satan's system of things. Many see them as a controlling cult that shuns those who try to leave. Jehovah's Witnesses who wish to leave, though, can experience a lot of trouble in doing so.
Logical Arguments: Introduction to Logic, Arguments, Reasoning
What is an argument? What are logical fallacies? In order to debate well and think critically, we need the proper skills. Whether reading advertising, listening to politicians, buying a used car, or considering arguments for religion, we need to know how to carefully examine what is being said and consider the validity of the content or structure.
Logical Fallacies: Arguments, Reasoning, and the Fallacy
Fallacies are defects in an argument that cause it to be invalid, unsound, or weak. In a deductive argument, the existence of a fallacy means that the argument is not valid - even if the premises are true, the conclusion might still be false. A fallacy does not guarantee it is false; a fallacious argument fails to provide a good reason to believe the conclusion, even if that conclusion is correct.
Logical Flaws in Reasoning: Flawed Reasoning, Arguments, and Attitudes
When a person's argument is flawed, usually those flaws can be traced back to identifiable fallacies. Not all flaws, however, can be technically labeled as fallacies. Some of these flaws might represent very specific errors in the reasoning process while others are better described as flaws in a person's attitude or how they approach the subject matter generally.
Mormons & Mormonism: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Mormonism - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Read about history, theology, discrimination, and more. An American original, they are having increasing influence in American politics and culture - for example spending millions to oppose same-sex marriage.
Muslim Holy Sites, Texts: Islam's Holiest Cities, Places, Scriptures
There are several cities and sites which are sacred to Muslims - what are they, and why are they holy? Read about Mecca, Medina, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, Hebron, Mashhad, and Qom. The primary holy texts in Islam are the Quran, believed to have been dictated to Muhammad by God, and the Hadith, a record of the traditions of Muhammad's companions.
Palestine & Israel: Conflict & Violence
The struggle betweeen the Palestinians and the Israelis seems to be one of the most contentious and violent in the world today. What makes it worse is that both seem to have fundamentally valid moral goals - except with specific incidents, there is no clear good and evil and there is no easy black and white decision.
Biographies of Famous Philosophers: Biographical Profiles of Philosophers and Intellectuals
The history of philosophy is very much the history of individual philosophers: their ideas, their arguments, and the conversations they have had across time and cultures. A solid understanding of philosophy therefore requires a solid understanding of what individual philosophers have thought, written, and argued.
Popes and the Papacy: History, Doctrines, News About Popes and the Catholic Papacy
Who or what is the pope? The title pope stems from the Greek word papas, which simply means 'father.' Early in Christian history it was used as a formal title expressing affectionate respect for any bishop and sometimes even priests. Today 'pope' continues to be used in Eastern Orthodox churches for the patriarch of Alexandria but is mostly widely used in the Catholic Church
Prophet Muhammad of Islam: Who was Muhammad? Did he Found Islam?
Muslims believe that Muhammad is the last Prophet of God. Muslims accept the validity of earlier revelations from legitimate prophets, like Jesus and Moses, but also believe that their revelations have become corrupted. Muhammad is the last prophet and his revelation from Allah, contained in the Quran, is free from error. What was Muhamamd, really?
This Modern World
This Modern World - comics dealing with fundamentalists, Falwell and teletubbies, secular humanism, evolution, promise keepers and more.
Unintentional Humor - pages that are meant to be serious (or at least appear so), but end up be funnier than real parodies.
Weekly Quotes: Quotations on Philosophy, Science, Reason, Freethought
Every week a quotation or short passage dealing with philosophy, religion, politics, or some other interesting facet of life is presented along with an analysis and discussion of the ideas raised in the quote.
Women in Islam: Status and Roles of Muslim Women in Islam
The oppression and harsh treatment of women in Islamic countries and Islamic tradition - including examinations of human rights in Islam and feminism in Islam.
Ethics of Affirmative Action: Evaluating Arguments Against
Affirmative Action is a moral and political question which seems to divide Americans more than it unites them. On the one side are those who regard it as a type of program designed to rectify racism and reverse the effects of both past and present discrimination; on the other side are those who simply see it as another form of discrimination, giving one group extra advantages based upon nothing but their skin color.
America: a Christian Nation? Is Christianity the Basis of America? American Law, Culture, Politics, and Government?
Many Christian authoritarians claim that America was founded as a Christian Nation which has been undermined by godless liberals and humanists. The truth is that America's Constitution is a godless document and the government of the United States was set up as a formally secular institution. America is not a Christian Nation, but secular America is being undermined by authoritarian Christians seeking to subvert its secular principles and framework in the interest of promoting Christianity.
Ann Coulter on Atheism, Religion, Liberalism, Church/State Separation, and Freedom
If there is one person who can be counted upon to consistently and reliably make bigoted, ridiculous statements when writing about Islam or the war on terrorism, it would probably be Ann Coulter. I can't think of any other major pundit who would write about how wonderful it is for airlines to discriminate based upon ethnicity.
Ten Commandments: Religious Issues, Religious Debates, Religious Versions
Because the Ten Commandments establish a covenant between the Jews and their god, it must be approached first and foremost as a religious document. Because Judaism is an important basis for both Christianity and Islam, the Ten Commandments have religious implications for all three religions. Each religion treats them slightly differently, each religion draws different conclusions from them, and each even has its own versions.
Creationism and Dishonesty
Delected and annotated links to critiques of creationist positions, but especially those which involve dishonest and lying.
Creationism and The Flood
Many creationists adhere to 'catastrophism' - the idea that features of the earth and solar system developed from recent catastrophies rather than slow changes over long periods of time. Here you will find information about the idea that there was a global flood as described in Genesis.
Gospel Contradictions - Gospels in the Bible are Full of Contradictions & Errors
The four canonical gospels are supposed to record the events in the life of Jesus Christ. If that's the case, why do they contain so many errors and contradictions? Believers tend not to notice the problems because they blend the stories together as a single text. If you focus on the details, though, it's clear that they aren't compatible. This is to be expected, given how long they were written after the events and because they were based on oral traditions.
Greek Mythology & Religion: Ancient Greek Gods, Temples, and Beliefs
The religion of ancient Greece is characterized by an interesting array of gods and goddesses. Worship of those gods and goddesses was characterized by large temples, beautiful iconography, complex myths, and regular sacrificial rituals.
Hans Zeiger's Bigotry: Hans Zeiger on Atheism, Atheists, Church/State Separation and Freedom
Hans Zeiger seems to be one of those conservative Christians who can't understand (or just won't acknowledge) the difference between government action and private action. Hans Zeiger is an Eagle Scout who regularly writes about how liberals are traitors, believing in his God is necessary for patriotism, and that groups like the Boy Scouts need to discriminate against atheists to uphold American values.
Hindus and Hinduism: Religious Beliefs, Traditions, and History
Hinduism is a broad label and is difficult to define with any exactness, but it is used by scholars today to refer to the traditional religious beliefs of the people in India, both past and present. The term
Myths About Church / State Separation & Hostility To Religion, Religious Belief - Does State Neutrality to Religion Entail Hostility to Religion?
Some of the most popular myths about church / state separation and efforts to keep civil government secular are based on the belief that this is all evidence of hostility to religion. According to many Christian Nationalists, people want to separate church & state because they hate religion or Christianity and any state that is neutral in religious matters is necessarily hostile to religion. None of these myths make any sense when subjected to careful scrutiny.
Intelligent Design, Creationism, and Evolution
Intelligent Design is the most recent form of creationism to develop, but its roots go back much further. It is based upon the idea that the existence of God can be deduced from the intricate design in the universe, a view popularized by William Paley's famous Watchmaker Analogy in his 1802 book Natural Theology.
Joe Sabia on Atheism, Atheists, Religion, and Church/State Separation
Joseph J. Sabia teaches in the Department of Social Sciences at West Point, the United States Military Academy. While a student at Cornell University, Joe Sabia wrote newspaper columns attacking liberalism, secularism, and in defense of Christian Supremacism. Sometimes the issue of atheism comes up, and that's where my comments apply. He called his 'No Shades of Grey' pieces 'the Ivy League's premier conservative column.' They were in fact the most bigoted columns around.
Judge Roy Moore: Ten Commandments & the Law in Alabama, America
Roy Moore is a celebrity for the Religious Right — his perpetual court cases over his various displays of the Ten Commandment have become a popular cause for fundamentalists around the country. Because of this, the court cases involving Moore play an important role in the relationship not only between church and state, but also between separationists and America’s religious right.
Michael Novak on Atheism, Religion, and Critical Thinking
Michael Novak is the George F. Jewett scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and his writings appear in various places like the National Review. He considers himself a
Types of Religion: Classifications of Different Religious Systems & Beleifs
Defining religion must take into account the fact that there are several different types of religion in the world. They are all similar enough to come together in the category called religion, but they are also different enough that exploring these sub-categories is helpful in understanding religious beliefs and religious phenomena.
Sacred Sites: Profiles of Sacred, Holy, and Religious Places - Temples, Churches, Mosques, and More
The world is filled with sacred sites - holy places that people believe or once believed to have religious significance to them and their culture. These sacred sites are varied in their history, art, architecture, and meaning. Most have played some historical role; some continue to play a role in political, social, or cultural events. We can learn a lot about history, culture, art, and architecture by learning about sacred sites.
Analysis of the Ten Commandments: Background, Meaning, Implications of Each Commandment
Most people know the Ten Commandments - or perhaps it is better to say that they think they know the Ten Commandments. The commandments are one of those cultural products that people imagine that they understand, but in reality, they frequently can't even name all of them, let alone explain them. People who already think they know all they need are unlikely to take the time to research the subject with any great care and precision.