Agnosticism & Atheism Sitemap - Page 7 2016-09-26

My Spouse Has Gotten More Religious Since We Married
It is not unusual for a person to become more devout in their religious beliefs over time - but what if their spouse isn't very devout or isn't religious at all? Can a marriage survive such a growing difference in religious perspectives and beliefs? If a person's partner is not religious at all or is merely superficially religious, problems can readily appear in the marriage. Regardless of the exact doctrines of the person's new or developing faith, the character of that person is changing

Albert Camus Biography: History of Existentialism
Albert Camus was a French-Algerian journalist and novelist whose literary work is regarded as a primary source of modern existentialist thought. A principle theme in Camus' novels is the idea that human life is, objectively speaking, meaningless. This results in 'absurdity' which can only be overcome by a commitment to moral integrity and social solidarity.

Beliefs and Choices: Do We Choose Our Beliefs?
There are two general schools of thought for how beliefs originate: voluntarist and involuntarist. Theists, and Christians in particular, commonly argue the voluntarist position. Only if we can be held morally responsible for our beliefs can disbelief be treated as a sin. It isn't possible to defend the idea of atheists going to hell unless they can be held morally accountable for their atheism. Better arguments can be made for involuntarism than for voluntarism, however.

Beliefs & Choices: Are Beliefs Like Actions? Why Arriving at a Belief is Not Like Engaging in an Action
We have seen that there are analogies in language for belief being both voluntary and involuntary, but on the whole the analogies for voluntarism aren't very strong. A more significant problem for the voluntarism held by most Christians is that an examination of the nature of holding beliefs does not lead to the conclusion that they are very much like actions, which are voluntary. When we realize what we must believe, we don't have to take any extra steps to actually hold that belief. Page 2.

Do Atheists Choose Atheism? Evangelists are Wrong to Ascribe Choice and Free Will to Atheism & Disbelief
I frequently hear the claim that atheists choose atheism, usually for some morally blameworthy reason like a desire to avoid taking responsibility for their sins. My response is basically the same every time: You may not believe me, but I didn't choose any such thing, and I can't just 'choose' to start believing. Maybe you can, but I can't. I do not believe in any gods. Evidence would make me believe in some god, but all the playacting in the world isn't going to change that. Page 4.

Gay Marriage: Importance of Kinship Ties in Marriages, Families
There are many situations where kinship creates bonds and obligations not otherwise available to people. Heterosexual couples can establish kinship with one another by marrying. Homosexual couples do not. Because of this, their relationships are at a social disadvantage. There is much more to being ‘kin‘ than legal benefits - kinship also establishes important social and moral obligations. Page 3.

Gay Marriage: The Point of Marriage and Kinship Ties
Is there any social and moral significance to the marriage certificate which goes above and beyond merely living together and which gay couples are justified in desiring for themselves? Absolutely - just like there is social and moral significance to marriage which straight couples are justified in desiring for themselves. Page 4.

Desire and Belief vs. Rational Belief: Why Beliefs are Not Based on Desire & How to Form Rational Beliefs
It does not appear that beliefs are something we arrive at by choice. Although we don't seem able to command our own beliefs at will, for some reason we seem to think that others can do this. We ascribe many of the beliefs of others that we don't agree with to their desires, wishes, hopes, preferences, etc. The fact that we only seem to do this when we disagree with the beliefs is instructive. There is a relationship between desire and belief, but rational beliefs are also possible. Page 3.

How Evil Conflicts With the Existence of God
Closely associated with taking action that should be considered immoral is the fact that there is so much evil in the world today. If there are any gods, why don't they act to eliminate it? The absence of substantive action against evil would be consistent with the existence of evil or at least indifferent gods, which is not impossible, but few people believe in such gods. Most claim that their gods are loving and powerful; the suffering on Earth makes their existence implausible.

Macro vs. Micro-Evolution and Their Definitions
Because the distinction between macroevolution and microevolution is fairly minor, you won't find the terms defined and separated in every science book. You don't have to look too hard and too far to find the definitions, though, and it's important to note that macroevolution and microevolution are defined consistently across many types of scientific resources: Collected here are definitions from three types of books: biology texts, popular books on evolution, and scientific reference works.

Secularism vs. Secularization: What's the Difference?
Although secularism and secularization are closely related, they nevertheless differ because they do not necessarily offer the same answer to the question of the role of religion in society. Secularism argues generally for a sphere of knowledge, values, and action that is independent of religious authority, but it does not necessarily exclude religion from having any authority over political and social affairs. Secularization, however, is a process which does involve such an exclusion.

Enjoying the Good Life Without Gods
Many religious theists don't believe that a person could not just live, but enjoy life without any gods or any religion. Because of this, religious theists also often make all kinds of assumptions about irreligious atheists and the sorts of lives they must lead. These assumptions are rarely, if ever, true. Neither gods nor religion are necessary to living a satisfying, fulfilling, and happy life.

Is the United States a Christian Nation?
Even some ostensible supporters of church/state separation think America is or was founded as a Christian Nation and this belief is very poplar among Christian Nationalists, Christian Supremacists and all opponents of church/state separation. The central problem with this claim is its ambiguity: what does

Atheist Myths: Is Atheism Based on Faith?
Many believers claim that atheism is as much of a faith as theism because atheists cannot prove God doesn't exist. This is a mistake on multiple levels: it's not necessarily true that atheists can't prove God doesn't exist and even when it is, that doesn't make it a 'faith' like a religion or theism.

What is Logical Positivism? History and Profile
Developed by the 'Vienna Circle' during the 1920s and 30s, Logical Positivism was an attempt to systematize empiricism in light of developments in math and philosophy. The term Logical Positivism was first used by Albert Blumberg and Herbert Feigl in 1931. For logical positivists, the entire discipline of philosophy was centered one task: to clarify the meanings of concepts and ideas. This led them to inquire what

In Defense of Atheists: Misconceptions That Lead to Bigotry
Why is there so much bigotry and hatred directed at atheists? Most of it is based upon the following misconceptions.

Confirmation Bias: Flaws in Reasoning and Arguments
Confirmation bias occurs when we selectively notice or focus upon evidence which tends to support the things we already believe or want to be true while ignoring that evidence which would serve to disconfirm those beliefs or ideas. Confirmation bias plays a stronger role when it comes to those beliefs which are based upon prejudice, faith, or tradition rather than on empirical evidence.

Does Evolution Contradict Religion?
Evolution is a scientific subject, but sometimes it seems to be the subject of more non-scientific debate than genuine scientific discussion. The most fundamental debate over evolution is arguably whether evolutionary theory contradicts or is incompatible with religious beliefs. In an ideal world this question wouldn't be relevant - no one debates whether plate tectonics contradicts religion - but in America, this has become an important question. However, the question is also too broad.

Einstein Quotes: Religion and Science Driven by Mystery?
Albert Einstein is often cited as a smart scientist who was also a religious theist, but both his religion and his theism are in doubt. He denied believing in any sort of traditional, personal god and he also rejected the traditional religions built around such gods. On the other hand, Albert Einstein expressed religious feelings. He always did so in the context of his feelings of awe in the face of the mystery of the cosmos. He saw the veneration of mystery as the heart of religion.

Do Atheists Believe They're Smarter Than Theists?
It is true that smarter people than I and many other atheists have accepted theism and religion - but so what? Smarter people than you have rejected your brand of theism and your brand of religion in favor of some other type of theism and religion. Smarter people than you have rejected theism and religion entirely, leading an entirely atheistic and irreligious life. Do you think you're better or smarter than they were? Is this a reason for you to drop your theism and religion? Of course not.

Atheists and Christians on Teaching Creationism in Schools
Most Americans think that creationism should be taught in public school science classes and the vast majority of evangelical Christians want creationism taught in schools. With so much support for such changes, we're lucky that creationism isn't already taught everywhere

Adolf Hitler on Tradition: Quotes on Moral Values
Adolf Hitler is often used as an example of what happens to a society when traditional Christian moral and social values are abandoned. In reality, one of the reasons why Hitler was so popular with conservative Christians in Germany was precisely because he promised to restore traditional morality. He opposed abortion, homosexuality, pornography, and just about everything else conservative Christians complained were ruining modern Germany.

Myths About the Separation of Church and State
When discussing the separation of church and state, it quickly becomes apparent that there is a lot of misinformation, misunderstandings, and myths floating around which distort people's perception of critical issues. It simply isn't possible to come to 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.

Argument From Religious Experience
The Argument from Religious Experience is that many people have what they label as religious experiences - experiences of the supernatural, like heaven or angels or even a god. Because we believe the experiential claims which people generally make - like that they went to the store or that they own a car - then we should be willing to believe these claims as well.

What Is a Militant Atheist?
Militant atheism is defined as being militantly opposed to theism, theists, and religion. Militant atheism requires an extreme hostility towards religious theism that entails a desire to see religion suppressed by force. This definition of militant atheism is usually meant pejoratively because the label is typically applied to atheists who do not seek the forced suppression of religion or theism.

Church Tax Exemptions: Why Taxation of Religion Matters
Church tax exemptions are not a trivial issue. Millions are lost in government revenue, and the rest of us are indirectly subsidizing religious activities.

Why Do Religious Extremists Hate America?
If you look close, you'll find that many of the complaints made by Muslim extremists about America are shared by conservative evangelical Christians. Why?

Who Made God? An Atheological Argument from Design
If our universe is too complex to not have been designed and created (presumably by God), then shouldn't God be too complex not to have been created?

What Would it Take for Atheists to Believe in God?
Is there anything that would get atheists to believe in God? What would get atheists to accept that a rational belief in God is possible?

Myth: Atheists Believe in Unprovable Things Like Love
Some apologists argue that belief in unprovable love or beauty is no different from believing in an unprovable god. Are they right?

Are Prayers Allowed in School?
Some claim that atheists had prayer in schools banned. The truth is students are free to pray as much as they wish. Only state-mandated prayers are banned.

Myth: Religion is Central to Human Existence
Some apologists insist that everyone is religious, even atheists, creating a false equivalency between religions and whatever hobbies are pursued by secular atheists.

Myth: Democracy is Based on Christian Principles
Some apologists will claim that democracy is based on and even requires Christianity, but the historical record of both proves that this claim is false.

Is Defining Atheism as 'Lack of Belief in God' a Cop Out?
Some apologists insist on defining atheism as more than a 'lack of belief in gods' because the broad definition doesn't have problems they can take advantage of.

Myth: Evolution Cannot Account for the Human Conscience
Some Christian apologists argue that the human conscience could not have evolved naturally and must have been created by a god, but the facts say otherwise.

How to Counter Gideon Bibles in Hotels and Schools
The Gideons are known for distributing Bibles and evangelizing, but it's possible to counter the Gideons' behavior when it's rude or illegal.

Evil vs. Virtue: Which Should We Focus On?
Western religions tend to focus on sin, even to the point of personifying it, while eastern religions tend to treat sin more as a stumbling block.

Bah, Humbug! Arguing Against Christmas
I think that a bit more skepticism of and dissent from Christmas would be better for everyone - it might even be better for Christmas.

Dealing with Religious Symbols at Work and in the Office
Because people spend so much of their time at work, it should be expected that they will decorate their desks, offices, cubicles, or other work areas with things that represent important parts of their lives. There will be pictures of families, objects representing sports, and of course religious symbols. But what do you do if those religious symbols become bothersome?

Is a Secular Christmas Antithetical to Cultural Diversity?
Multiculturalism can mean a lot of things, but it's generally part of an argument that minority cultural traditions and practices should be given a more equal status alongside majority cultural practices which have long dominated people's lives.

Sources of Christmas Traditions, Modern and Ancient
Few people are aware of the origins of most Christmas traditions; most assume that Christmas is primarily Christian, or else they simply don't care. Christmas is, in fact, a combination of modern and ancient ideas.

Schools and Religious Holidays: Court Decisions on Major Legal Issues
Summaries and backgrounds on several court cases that have addressed the degree to which public schools can recognize or participate in religious holidays. How far can a public school go when including religious symbols in school functions? Is it a violation of the separation of church and state to make students sing Christian songs in a public school choir? Page 4.

Schools and Religious Holidays - How Can Schools Recognize Holidays?
American schools have been explicit in celebrating the Christmas holiday season. So long as America has been predominantly Christian in composition, such a focus went unchallenged and even unnoticed by the majority. That's no longer the case.

School Closings - Can Public Schools Close for Religious Holidays?
The most obvious evidence of school attempts to accommodate people’s religious beliefs and the one thing which is sure to affect everyone involved, regardless of their religious beliefs, is the decision to simply close a school during a religious holiday. Traditionally, this has only occurred around Christmas, but that is starting to change. Page 2.

School Holiday Programs: Can Public Schools Have Special Programs for Religious Holidays?
Aside from closing entirely, schools have also celebrated religious holidays by holding special programs — these can take the form of special classes which teach about the holiday, plays and musicals related to the holiday, and (most commonly) musical programs. Page 3.

Role and Place of Religion in Public Schools
The presence and extent of religion in public schools is one of the most difficult and contentious issues when it comes to the separation of church and state. On the one hand are those who sincerely believe that a lack of religion in the schools 'teaches' atheism or secular humanism, resulting in a decline in morality and performance. On the other hand are those who believe that state sanctioned religion and state supported religious observances infringe on the religious liberties of all.

Christmas Wars and Conspiracies: Political, Social, Religious Conflicts over the Meaning of the Christmas Season
One recent and disturbing development in America's Culture Wars is the growth of the so-called Christmas Wars. A few influential conservatives are using Christmas as a political weapon against liberals, secularists, and non-Christians. They claim that a secular, anti-Christian conspiracy is draining Christian meaning from Christmas and devaluing it as part of the holiday season. The hate in their 'defense' of Christmas is astounding - even arguably un-Christian.

Christian Privilege and Religious Privilege: Christian Claims to Privilege in Politics, Culture
Society has enforced many sorts of privilege where one group has advantages over all others due to their supposed superiority. There has been white privilege, where whites have had privileges and powers unavailable to other races. There has been male privilege, where men have had power and options denied to women, whatever their race. With Christian and religious privilege, Christianity, Christians, or religion generally are given a special status over other religions or beliefs.

Are Public Creches and Nativity Displays Constitutional?
Surely the most obvious and divisive of the holiday questions is that of religious displays in public. These generate the most discussion, the most debate, and of course the most lawsuits - including a couple of high-profile Supreme Court cases. Understanding these issues go a long way towards helping us understand the entire spectrum of social problems surrounding religious holidays.

Publicly Sponsored Nativity Displays on Public Land: Are They Constitutional?
Religious displays which have been fully paid for and sponsored by the government are not as common today as they once were, but they still occur, especially in conjunction with secular displays - a fact which has become a key constitutional issue. The religious aspects of the displays themselves consist primarily of nativity scenes with creches and, sometimes, a menorah. Page 2.

Privately Sponsored Nativity Displays on Public Land: Are They Constitutional?
Privately sponsored religious displays differ from those supported by the government in that a private group owns, stores and erects the display. Furthermore, the display is usually placed in an area open to all manner of speech, for example the proverbial 'public square' in the center of town or in public parks. Does this make them constitutional? Page 3.

Court Decisions on Nativity Displays on Public Land: Are They Constitutional?
Summaries and backgrounds on several court cases that have addressed whether the government can have religious displays on public grounds during the Christmas holidays. Are nativity scenes permitted? What about menorahs? Should there be secular symbols as well? Page 4.

Religious Holidays and Symbols - Can the State Endorse Religious Holidays, Symbols?
Can the government take religious holidays and make official state holidays out of them? Is it an establishment of religion when a religious holy day becomes an official state holiday? Because America has historically been dominated by Christians, there are many Christian practices which are now part of American culture - among them, official state recognition of Christian holidays. But are Christian holy days something that the state should be involved with encouraging and supporting?

Book Review - A Solstice Tree for Jenny, by Karen I. Shragg
Christmas is prevalent throughout American culture. Everywhere you go, you can find Christmas greetings, Christmas decorations, Christmas displays, Christmas advertisements and more. All over people experience social and cultural pressures to

What's so Christian about Santa Claus?
The most common, popular, and recognized symbol for Christmas today isn't an infant Jesus or even a manger scene, but Santa Claus. It's Santa who graces all the ads and decorations, not Jesus. Santa Claus is not, however, a religious figure or symbol.

Atheists Are Not Working to Undermine Christmas Holidays
Every year we hear more and more about the so-called Christmas Wars. According to its promoters and alleged 'defenders' of Christmas, the godless liberals and atheists are trying to undermine wholesome Christmas traditions as part of their agenda of undermining Christianity.

How Should Atheists Deal with Holidays, Rituals?
Holidays can serve to form a connection to your own past by evoking memories of past celebration. Rituals and celebrations, as long as they are not empty of personal meaning, can be worth preserving.

What Do Atheists Do During Christmas Holidays?
Christmas can be a difficult time of the year for atheists. Although it has become highly secularized in recent years, the holiday has retained strong religious aspects. Many family celebrations of Christmas also include religious rituals which atheists cannot easily participate in without feeling dishonest. Should atheists even care about holidays like Christmas? Should they ignore Christmas, perhaps even create a new holiday as a surrogate? What exactly do atheists do with Christmas?

How Christians Have Undermined & Secularized Christmas
An examination of Christian history indicates that religion has been slowly stripped from Christmas, as well as other Christian holidays, over a long time now - and by Christians themselves.

Is Christmas a Religious or Secular Holiday?
Americans all over the country in all walks of life look forward to getting a day off on December 25, a day which has traditionally (and almost certainly erroneously) been celebrated as the birth day of Jesus Christ, savior for all Christians. What's wrong with that? Nothing, really - except possibly the fact that it is a holiday which is legally recognized/mandated by our government. Should Christmas be treated like a secular holiday?

Christmas Tree as a Secular Symbol of Secular Christmas
Originally derived from pagan religious celebrations in Europe, the Christmas Tree was adopted by Christianity but never entirely at home in it.

Secular Ways to Celebrate the Christmas Holidays
Although Christmas has largely been a Christian religious holiday, that has changed dramatically. It already included many elements borrowed from other religions, which made it easy to transform in modern, secular culture.

Should Atheists Ignore Christmas or Celebrate It?
There is a debate among atheists about whether they should celebrate Christmas or not. Some do so because they aren't out as atheists. Some do so in order not to rock the boat among religious family members. Some do so because they always have and don't want to change - or simply enjoy the holiday. Others argue that it should be replaced by a more rational holiday, and still others argue that all such holidays should be ignored by atheists. Is there a case to be made for this?

Is Jesus the Reason for the Season? Godless Christmas without Christ
Many conservative evangelical Christians at this time of year want to 'put Christ back in Christmas' and insist that 'Jesus is the Reason for the Season.' Unfortunately, they don't have much of a case.

Constitutional Problems with Christmas Holidays
The latter part of the year in the United States is affectionately known as the

Our Families Want a Religious Wedding, But We Don't
This may be the first situation where a person's atheism comes into serious conflict with the religious assumptions and beliefs of his or her in-laws. You may encounter numerous circumstances in which such conflicts can occur over the course of a marriage, but in many respects this can be one of the most serious. For a lot of people, a religious wedding is necessary to launch a successful marriage - thus, if a religious wedding is rejected, then the marriage itself will be regarded as unstable.

Accommodationists and the Separation of Church and State
The accommodationist approach to the separation of church and state opposes the separationist approach which has been dominant in the courts. According to accommodationists, the First Amendment should be read much more narrowly than it has been in recent years. Some go so far as to argue that the First Amendment prohibits the government from doing nothing other than creating a National Church - everything else is permitted.

Does God Exist? Examining the Question of God's Existence & Nature, Theism, And Faith
Does God Exist? This is one of the principle questions in discussions between atheists and theists - and it is one of the questions which causes some of greatest enmnity among people. You will find here debates between atheists and theists about the existence of gods, arguments against gods and for atheism, and critiques of arguments for gods.

Modernity, Liberalism, Modernism vs Christian Tradition
One common theme to most forms of religious fundamentalism and conservatism is opposition to modernity, including modernism, liberalism, and all their fruits.

Christian Conceptions of God: Can God be Judged?
A common Christian defense against the Argument from Evil is that God’s acts can’t be judged, but the implications of this are worse than accepting the atheists’ original argument.

Mark, Chapter 15 - Analysis and Commentary
In the penultimate chapter of Mark, Jesus is brought before the Roman authorities, sentenced to die, and crucified. The narrative of Jesus’ final day is carefully structured according to Roman customs of keeping time in three-hour intervals.

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus (Mark 14:10-11)
Every story needs a villain and Judas fills this role well. Should be condemned for this because he was simply carrying out the tasks God needed?

Jesus Draws Crowds for Healing (Mark 3:7-12)
Jesus moves on to the sea of Galilee where people from all over come to hear him speak or to be healed. So many show up that Jesus needs a ship waiting for a quick getaway.

Fallacies of Relevance: Appeal to Tradition
This fallacy makes its appeal to the authority of the collective interests and habits of people, as expressed in tradition or culture.

What are Definitions?
Most logic texts list five different types of definitions which people might use. This can give the impression that the matter is pretty well settled, but it's not.

Karl Jaspers Biography
Karl Jaspers was a German philosopher who may be the first to construct a self-consciously existentialist philosophy in the modern era, even though he didn’t consider himself an existentialist.

Ah Mucen Cab, God of Bees and Honey in Mayan Religion
Ah Mucen Cab (Ah Muzencab, Ah Muzen Cab) was the Mayan god of honey and bees. Some honeys are toxic and produce psychoactive effects.

Just War Theory: Explanation and Criteria
There is a long-standing tradition in Western culture of differentiating between just and unjust wars, arguing that there are times when war is, at the very least, less just.

What Does the Bible Say about the Transfiguration of Jesus?
Transfiguration refers to the appearance of Jesus Christ in a 'glorified form' to his disciples. This is recorded in the synoptic gospels after his resurrection.

Immorality of the Biblical God
An important objection against the existence of the god of the Bible focuses on this god's character. The god of the Bible isn't simply an ideal abstraction; in Western religious traditions we find many stories about what God has done or commanded believers to do. Often such actions are contrary to basic moral principles; at the same time, God is described as the source of morality. How can this be?

Tlaloc, God of Rain and Fertility in Aztec Religion
Tlaloc, the Aztec god of rain and fertility, brought both good and bad to the Aztecs: he brought life-giving rains, but also deadly lightning and hurricanes.

Pennsylvania State Laws on Flag Burning, Desecration, Abuse
In Pennsylvania, it is a crime to show 'disrespect' to the American flag, which includes prohibitions against the flag being used as 'wearing apparel, bedding or drapery,' as a 'receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying or delivering anything,' used in any advertising, or 'embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard.'

Easter: Christian, Pagan, Jewish Spring Holiday Season
Easter has roots not only in Jewish & Christian traditions, but also ancient pagan beliefs. Although a Christian holiday today, much is more pagan than Christian.

Anecdotal Evidence and Testimonials: Independent, Repeatable Confirmation
Whenever we offer an empirical claim as true, we are expected to support that claim with evidence - pieces of information which, when taken together, tend to point to the truth of our claim. Evidence which proves our claim is best, but not absolutely required. Naturally, when searching for evidence one of the first sources we look to is our own experience in the world, because it is typically that experience which we rely upon most heavily when trying to understand reality.

Atheism and Defining God
It might seem to some that discussing the nature, attributes, and character of a supposed god doesn’t make a whole lot of sense unless there is some reason to think that this god or even any gods exist in the first place. After all, isn’t discussing whether or not a god is omnipotent or omniscient just a waste of time if we have no good reason to suppose it even exists?

What is God? Problems with Defining and Proving God
When a theist makes assertions about faith and religious experience, she enters the realm of rational discourse and reasoned discussion. She may not have an entirely clear idea about what attributes her god has, but the fact remains that her faith in her god rests upon beliefs about her god which are open to rational evaluation. They are assertions which deserve to be critiqued and defended. Page 2.

Nihilistic Existentialism
Although existentialism is not by necessity nihilistic, nihilism does share a close affinity with existentialism because it depicts human life as ultimately trivial and meaningless. Where it parts company with existentialism, however, is in the level of resulting despair and the conclusion that therefore perhaps the best course of action is suicide.

Nihilistic Existentialism in Camus
Those who disbelieve in God will usually agree that there is no 'objective' meaning to their lives, but deny that therefore there is no meaning at all. Instead, they argue that their lives can be fulfilling and purposeful from the subjective perspectives of themselves and other human beings. Because they find this satisfying, they do not sink into despair and they do not feel that suicide is the best option. Page 2.

Is Harry Potter a Christian Allegory?
Read about a the minority argument that the Harry Potter books are not only compatible with Christianity, but in fact contain implicit Christian messages.

Harry Potter As Christian Allegory
Read about a the minority argument that the Harry Potter books are not only compatible with Christianity, but in fact contain implicit Christian messages. Page 2.

Existentialist Themes of Bad Faith and Fallenness
Jean-Paul Sartre's conception of existentialist philosophy focused upon the radical freedom that faces every human being. In the absence of any fixed human nature or absolute, external standards, we must all become responsible for whatever choices we make. Sartre recognized, however, that such freedom was too much for people to always handle. A common response, he argued, was to use their freedom to deny the existence of freedom - a tactic he called Bad Faith (mauvaise foi).

Statements on Gay Priests in the Roman Catholic Church
Scandals involving priests who have sexually abused children have been a source of many problems for the Roman Catholic Church. One of those problems has been the situation of gay priests. Statements from Vatican officials have expressed strong disapproval of the very existence of homosexuals within the priesthood - the presumption being that the sexual abuse problems are caused by gays and that if they disappear, then so will the problem.

Gay Priests in the Roman Catholic Church: What Will Happen?
The various statements from Catholic officials about how homosexuality is intrinsically disordered and that the presence of gay men in the Catholic priesthood is potentially damaging to the entire Catholic Church have shocked and outraged many Americans, Catholic and non-Catholic. What is really shocking, however, is that such statements are surprising anyone. The question is, what if anything can American Catholics do about it? If gay priests are purged, will they accept it and do nothing? Page 2.

Atheists And Whether Or Not God Matters
The question of whether or not some sort of god exists is not one which should necessarily occupy the minds of atheists all of the time. Theists - especially Christians - regularly challenge us with arguments and ideas which supposedly demonstrate that their god definitely exists. But prior to that, there is an even more important issue to address: is a god really important in our lives?

Introduction to Genesis: First Book of the Bible
Genesis is where it all starts in the Bible, literally and figuratively. It's the story of creation and the origin of all the Bible's major themes. Genesis is the first book of the Bible, the first book of the Pentateuch, and the first book of the Torah. The name Genesis comes from an ancient Greek work meaning birth or origin; this comes from ancient Hebrew Bereshit, or 'In the beginning' which is how the Book of Genesis starts.

Nazism and Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger)
The question of Joseph Ratzinger’s involvement with Nazi Germany and the Hitler Youth is important. Neither Ratzinger nor any member of his immediate family joined the NSDAP (Nazi Party). Ratzinger’s father was critical of the Nazi government and as a result the family had to move four times. None of this is remarkable, however, because the same happened with other German Catholic families. There is reason to think that Joseph Ratzinger has been less than fully candid about his past, though. Page 2.

Nazism and Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger)
The question of Joseph Ratzinger’s involvement with Nazi Germany and the Hitler Youth is important. Neither Ratzinger nor any member of his immediate family joined the NSDAP (Nazi Party). Ratzinger’s father was critical of the Nazi government and as a result the family had to move four times. None of this is remarkable, however, because the same happened with other German Catholic families. There is reason to think that Joseph Ratzinger has been less than fully candid about his past, though.

Atheism and Children: Questions about Atheism and Atheists
Of all of the problems that atheists might experience with their families, those involving their own children are perhaps among the most emotional and difficult to resolve. Many people honestly believe that children require religion and God in order to be raised morally and properly - so if atheist parents don't offer that, they will feel compelled to intervene and replace what they believe the parents are failing provide.

Atheism and Reason: Are Atheists More Rational than Theists?
When it comes right down to it, atheism itself doesn't inherently mean all that much. Fundamentally, atheism itself isn't anything more than not believing in any gods. Why or how one might be without belief in gods is no more relevant to the definition of atheism than why or how one might believe in gods is relevant to the definition of theism.

Deism and Humanism: History of Humanism With Ancient Deistic Philosophers
Deism is not generally thought of as a type of humanism, but it did play an important role in the development of humanist thinking in Europe. For deists, the universe was believed to be rational and ordered because that is how God wanted it to be; God, in turn, is also a rational being with rational desires, rational goals, and rational methods which are understandable through human reason. It is perhaps obvious why such a god would be appealing to Enlightenment rationalists.

Belief and Choice: Do People Choose to be Atheists?
The question of belief (and how it might be achieved) is a crucial point of disagreement between atheists and theists. Atheists contend that believers are overly credulous - that they believe things much more easily and readily than is rationally warranted. Theists, on the other hand, argue that nonbelievers deliberately disregard important evidence and are thus unjustifiably skeptical.

Why Do Atheists Debate Theists? Methodology vs. Conclusions
However mistaken a person's conclusions may be, the process which brought them to that conclusion is the key. The important thing is not to focus simply on their erroneous belief, but instead upon what has ultimately brought them to that belief, and then working on getting them to adopt a methodology which relies more upon skepticism, reason, and logic. Page 2.

Humanism and Evil: Philosophy of Religion in Humanism
One of the central concerns of religion and much that goes on in theology is that of evil and human suffering. Why do they exist and what can be done about them? A variety of different explanations and coping strategies have been devised in the various religions of the world, but most of them have been rejected by humanism.

Atheism vs. Theism: Why Do Atheists Debate Theists?
There is a common perception that there must be 'something more' to atheism than simply disbelief in gods because of the fact that atheists are so often engaged in debates with theists. After all, what's the point of debating if not to convert someone to some other philosophy or religion?

Defining Agnosticism: Standard Dictionaries
To understand the concept of agnosticism, it can be helpful to learn a bit more about its history. It has been used in a variety of ways, not all of which are entirely compatible. They may be similar, but there enough differences that there can be some confusion.

Defining Agnosticism: Recent Dictionaries
To understand the concept of agnosticism, it can be helpful to learn a bit more about its history. It has been used in a variety of ways, not all of which are entirely compatible. They may be similar, but there enough differences that there can be some confusion. Page 2.

What is Nihilism? Nihilism, Nihilists, and Nihilistic Philosophy
By and large nihilists direct their negative critiques at prevailing social structures, but they simultaneously argue that the elimination of those false facades would allow for the development of improved and more 'real' social relations. The goal, ultimately would be the complete freedom and liberation and every sovereign individual from all prejudices, pieties, and figures of authority.

Why Are You An Atheist? Atheism, Discrimination, and Prejudice
Atheism would appear to be one of the last minorities it is acceptable to openly discriminate against, right along with homosexuals. Atheists are not allowed to hold public office in four states. While campaigning for the presidency, George Bush stated and later reaffirmed that he did not believe atheists could possibly be patriotic and should not be citizens. Page 2.

Why Are You An Atheist? What Led You Down The Path To Atheism?
I was not always an atheist. Although my parents did not raise me to be religious, they also did not raise me to be an atheist. However, when I was in school, I was invited by a classmate to start attending a Christian church, and I did so. My parents did not attend with me, but they also did not discourage me. On the contrary, they did whatever was necessary to help me attend and participate in the church’s youth activities.

Francis Bacon on Chance and Superstition: Probability, Coincidence, and the Paranormal
Humans seem to be a rather superstitious lot - whatever the subject, people are able to develop superstitions around it. People wear lucky clothing, carry lucky objects, and think that they have lucky numbers or days. How do such superstitious beliefs develop and what causes them to be reinforced?

Book Review - The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People, by David P. Barash and Judith Eve Lipton
To some, monogamous relationships - particularly in the context of marriage - are the natural state of human beings and the foundation of civilization. Others, however, find the idea of a single mate to be boring and oppressive, prefering instead to seek multiple partners and varied experiences. Which perspective is most accurate - are people naturally monogamous or polygamous?

Atheism and Nihilism: Nihilism, Nihilists, and Nihilistic Philosophy
Atheism has long been closely associated with nihilism, both for good and for bad reasons, but usually for bad reasons in the writings of critics of both. It is alleged that atheism necessarily leads to nihilism because atheism necessarily results in materialism, scientism, ethical relativism, and a sense of despair that must lead to feelings of suicide. All of these tend to be basic characteristics of nihilistic philosophies.

Skepticism of Truth: Can We Reliably Know the Truth of Anything? Is Knowledge Possible?
Although there may be sound logical and pragmatic reasons for assuming that there are things which are true independent of us and our beliefs, we should ask ourselves whether that constitutes solid grounds for actually believing that truth is objective. Arguing that we don’t have such grounds is known as Philosophical Skepticism.

Ethical Individualism: Themes and Ideas in Existentialist Thought
Existentialist ethics is characterized by the emphasis on moral individualism. Rather than seeking a 'highest good' that would be universal, existentialists have sought means for each individual to find the highest good for them, regardless of whether it might ever apply to anyone else at any other time.

Secular vs Religious: Where Should the Line Be Drawn?
Where should we draw the line between 'religious' and 'secular?' How can a religious symbol or ritual become secular? These might appear to be odd questions, but their importance is slowly and silently growing. We cannot afford to ignore them - our answers will have a profound impact on the course of our society and the nature of church/state separation in America.

Secularizing Christmas: Where Should the Line Be Drawn?
One interesting issue in the debate over where the line between the secular and the religious involves the Christmas holiday. Many Americans look forward to getting a day off on December 25, a day which has traditionally (and almost certainly erroneously) been celebrated as the birth day of Christ. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, really - except possibly the fact that it is a holiday which is legally recognized/mandated by our government. Page 2.

What is Theology? Origins of Theology in Ancient Greece & Early Christianity
Most tend to think of theology in the context of modern religions traditions, but the concept dates back to ancient Greece. Philosophers like Plato and Aristotle used it in to reference the study of the Olympian gods and the writings of authors like Homer. The earliest theological works in Christianity were written by church fathers who attempted to construct coherent frameworks through which people could better understand the nature of God’s revelations to humanity through Jesus.

Religious Specialists: Figures of Religious Authority: Prophets, Priests, and Sorcerers
There certainly exist religious belief systems and religious communities with no clear role for religious specialists - figures of religious authority whose position depends upon religious learning or revelation as opposed to mere administrative acumen. Such communities are, however, very much in the minority. It is much more common to find a number of clearly delineated roles for religious specialization in the average religious community.

What is a Gospel? Gospels and 'Good News' as a New Literary Genre
As a literary form, the gospels have a lot in common with biographies. They also have many similarities to martyrologies, lives of philosophers, and even the aretologies (stories of “virtue”) of heroic figures. Ultimately, though, the gospels seem to represent the introduction of a new type of literature.

Thomas Paine on Theology: Is There Any God to Study in Christianity?
The study of theology, as it stands in the Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authority; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion.

Jesus, The Son of Man: Jesus' Identity and Means of Self-Identification - What Does 'Son of Man' Mean?
In the gospels Jesus is frequently depicted as referring himself as the 'Son of man.' What this label means has been the subject of a great deal of debate among theologians and biblical scholars, with no clear resolution in sight. There are many possible uses, all of which serve to complicate more than they resolve.

People Don't Understand Statistics So Have Mistaken Beliefs About Coincidences
One of the reasons people believe in psychic phenomena is not because of experiments which purport to show something statistically significant - these results only serve to bolster beliefs which already exist. People’s beliefs are instead based upon their own personal experiences. The more such experiences a person has, the stronger their belief will be.

Jonathan Z. Smith on the Definition of Religion: Does Religion Exist? What is Religion?
...while there is a staggering amount of data, phenomena, of human experiences and expressions that might be characterized in one culture or another, by one criterion or another, as religion - there is no data for religion. Religion is solely the creation of the scholar's study. It is created for the scholar's analytic purposes by his imaginative acts of comparison and generalization. Religion has no existence apart from the academy.

Our Malleable Memory: Human Memory is Far More Malleable Than People Realize
A good example of how malleable memory can be comes from Psychologist Ulric Neisser, a professor at Emory University in January 1986 when the space shuttle Challenger blew up just after lift off. The day after the disaster, he conducted an experiment in which he gave students in his freshman psychology class a questionnaire about the explosion.

Dynamic Theories: Why Parapsychology is a Pseudoscience, Not a Science
In science, theories are dynamic - this means that they are susceptible to change due to new information, either from experiments done for the theory in question or done in other fields. This is because in science, theories are supposed to be driven by data rather than the other way around. The appearance of new data or ideas forces theories to change.

Opposing Modernity and Enlightenment
The one thing which arguably connects all of political, social, and economic policies of America's Religious Right is an opposition to the Enlightenment.

Etienne Gilson on Reason and Revelation
Many religious believers also believe that their god has revealed certain truths to them. Is that belief itself based on any reason or evidence? Can it be?

Does Harry Potter Promote Wicca or Witchcraft?
J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books have been attacked by the Christian Right because of how the books portray witchcraft. According to Christian critics, the Harry Potter books encourage children to accept witchcraft as benign, even good, and thus will lead them to adopt some form of paganism or Wicca. Page 2.

Does Harry Potter Support Witchcraft?
J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books have been attacked by the Christian Right because of how the books portray witchcraft. According to Christian critics, the Harry Potter books encourage children to accept witchcraft as benign, even good, and thus will lead them to adopt some form of paganism or Wicca.

For Whom Was the Gospel According to Mark Written?
For whom was Mark writing? It is easier to make sense of the text if we read it in light of what the author intended, and that in turn would be heavily influenced by the audience he wrote for. Mark likely wrote for one specific Christian community, the one he was part of. He certainly can’t be read as if he were addressing all of Christendom down through the ages, centuries after his own life ended.

What are Godless and Godlessness?
Godless is defined being without gods, which is almost identical to the broad definition of atheism. Both terms are, however, often intended to be negative.

What is New Atheism? Definition of New Atheism
New atheism is openly critical of theism and religion and which is less willing to be accommodating to religious beliefs, traditions, or institutions.

Definition of Theological Noncognitivism
Theological noncognitivism, is the position that religious language - and specifically religious terms like 'god' - are not (cognitively) meaningful.

Older Dictionaries on the Definition of Religion
Sometimes older dictionaries have better definitions of religion than newer ones. They also provide some insight into how the concept has evolved.

Simone de Beauvoir Biography
Simone de Beauvoir was a French novelist who played an important role in the development of existentialism and feminism in the 20th century.

Abortion Rights and Privacy Rights in America
Is there a fundamental right to abortion? Is there a right to privacy that protects contraception and use of contraceptives?

God and Gender: Is God Really Male?
Many people act as though God is male rather than female or genderless, but theologians argue that God is genderless. Why does this difference exist?

What is God? God is Immutable: Why can't God change?
Supposedly it doesn't matter what happens elsewhere, God always remains the same. Why do people believe this? Does it make sense to say God cannot change?

Examining the Definition of Religion and Religious Belief
Definitions of religion tend to suffer from one of two problems: they are either too narrow or they are too vague and ambiguous.

What is Irreligion? What Does it Mean to be Irreligious?
Irreligion is the absence of religion or an indifference towards religion. Occasionally it might be defined more narrowly as hostility towards religion.

Judge Roy Moore: Ten Commandments and the Law
Roy Moore is a genuine celebrity for the Religious Right in America because of his posting the Ten Commandments in his courts. Were his actions Constitutional?

Do Atheists Go to Church? Why Would Atheists Attend?
The idea of atheists attending church services seems contradictory. Doesn't that require belief in God? Doesn't a person have to believe in a religion in order to attend it's worship services? Isn't freedom on Sunday morning one of the benefits of atheism? Although most atheists don't count themselves as part of religions which require regular attendance at churches or other houses of worship, you can still find some who do attend such services from time to time or even regularly.

Agnosticism & Atheism
Agnosticism & Atheism. Page 2.

Do Morals and Values Prove the Existence of God?
According to the Argument from Values the existence of universal human values and ideals means that there must be a God who created them. The Argument from Morals asserts that morality can only be explained by the existence of a God who created us.

Papal Infallibility: Is the Pope Infallible? Examining the Catholic Doctrine of Papal Infallibility
In Christian theology, infallibility is the doctrine that in matters of faith and morals the church, both in teaching and in believing, is protected from serious error by

What is Papal Infallibility? Examining the Catholic Doctrine of Papal Infallibility
Papal Infallibility, also called ultramontanism, is limited to when the Pope is speaking ex cathedra, that is when he is speaking in his official capacity as the 'pastor and teacher' of all Christians in defining matters of morals and faith. Page 2.

Vatican I, Pope Pius IX, and Papal Infallibility: Is the Pope Infallible? Examining the Catholic Doctrine of Papal Infallibility
How did Pius IX manage to get papal infallibility declared an official dogma? Catholic theologian Hans Kung, critical of this dogma, argues for four principle reasons: 'Pius IX had a sense of divine mission which he carried to extremes; he engaged in double dealing; he was mentally disturbed; and he misused his office.'. Page 3.

Criticisms of Papal Infallibility: Is the Pope Infallible? Examining the Catholic Doctrine of Papal Infallibility
There have been many Catholic critics of the doctrine of papal infallibility. In 1979 Father August Bernhard Hasler, Catholic priest, historian, and former staff member of the Vatican's Secretariat for Christian Unity, published 'How the Pope became Infallible: Pius IX and the Politics of Persuasion.' His description largely matches that of Hans Kung but differs greatly from the official version of the Church. Page 4.

Catholic Doctrine of Papal Infallibility - Pope Pius IX
There have been many Catholic critics of the doctrine of papal infallibility. In 1979 Father August Bernhard Hasler, Catholic priest, historian, and former staff member of the Vatican's Secretariat for Christian Unity, published 'How the Pope became Infallible: Pius IX and the Politics of Persuasion.' His description largely matches that of Hans Kung but differs greatly from the official version of the Church. Page 5.

Popes of the 9th Century, Part 1: History of the Roman Catholic Papacy and Church
Here is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the ninth century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church.

Popes of the 9th Century - 880 to 900
Here is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the ninth century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church. Page 2.

Perspectives and Religion in the Crusades
Although members of other religions obviously suffered at the hands of good Christians throughout the Middle Ages, it should not be forgotten that other Christians suffered just as much. Augustine's exhortion to compel entry into the church was used with great zeal when church leaders dealt with Christians who dared to follow a different sort of religious path.

Muslim Perspective on the Crusades
Most histories of the Crusades tend to focus on the Crusaders themselves and the perspectives of European Christians seeking conquest and plunder in the Holy Land. But what about the Muslims whose lands were invaded and cities sacked? What did they think about these religious armies marching out of Europe? Page 2.

Persecution of Jews & Antisemitism | Perspectives and Religion in the Crusades
There were Jewish communities, some quite large, throughout Europe and the Middle East before the Crusades. They had established themselves and survived over the course of many centuries, but they also provided tempting targets for marauding Crusaders looking for infidels to attack and treasure to loot. Caught between two warring religions, the Jews were in a most untenable position. Page 3.

View of the Crusades from Today | Perspectives and Religion in the Crusades
The meaning of the Crusades for politics and society today cannot be understood simply by looking at the violence, the persecutions, or the economic changes they wrought. However important those things may have been at the time, the meaning of the Crusades for people today is determined not so much by what actually happened as it is by what people believe happened and the stories they tell each other about the past. Page 4.

Van Orden v. Perry (Supreme Court, 2005): Ten Commandments Monument in Texas
A six foot tall Ten Commandments monument was placed on the Texas state Capitol grounds in 1961. According to the legislative resolution accepting the gift, the purpose of the monument was to 'recognize and commend a private organization for its efforts to reduce juvenile delinquency.'

Van Orden and Perry Arguments and Outcome
A six foot tall Ten Commandments monument was placed on the Texas state Capitol grounds in 1961. According to the legislative resolution accepting the gift, the purpose of the monument was to 'recognize and commend a private organization for its efforts to reduce juvenile delinquency.'. Page 2.

Harry Potter & Women: Are Women Treated Equally in Harry Potter Stories?
Parents should care about how J.K. Rowling portrays gender roles, the nature of men and women, and family in her Harry Potter books. The Harry Potter books could either promote the idea of equality between men and women or they could promote a culturally conservative vision where women are secondary to men and masculinity is judged according to traditional stereotypes.

A Look at Female Equality in the Harry Potter Stories
Parents should care about how J.K. Rowling portrays gender roles, the nature of men and women, and family in her Harry Potter books. The Harry Potter books could either promote the idea of equality between men and women or they could promote a culturally conservative vision where women are secondary to men and masculinity is judged according to traditional stereotypes. Page 2.

God is Worthy of Worship: Divine Perfection
There several divine attributes which receive a lot of attention, but there is none quite so important for traditional believers as the general principle of absolute perfection and the narrower implication that, therefore, God is worthy of our worship. These are the reason why the existence of God is the subject of so much debate.

The Problem with Divine Perfection
Some of the problems with the concept of perfection depend upon what we mean by

Fun Facts About the Papacy
This chronological list of popes provides interesting bits of trivia about the various people who have occupied the throne of St. Peter. Firsts, lasts, and unusual facts are presented alongside the years they reigned, which number pope they were, and links to more complete biographies.

Papal Firsts, Lasts, and Interesting Facts (1000 CE - Today): History of the Roman Catholic Papacy
This chronological list of popes provides interesting bits of trivia about the various people who have occupied the throne of St. Peter. Firsts, lasts, and unusual facts are presented alongside the years they reigned, which number pope they were, and links to more complete biographies. Page 2.

Logical Fallacies: Begging the Question
Begging the Question is the most basic and classic example of a Fallacy of Presumption. Begging the Question presumes the conclusion which is at issue in the first place. This can also be known as a 'Circular Argument' because the conclusion essentially appears both at the beginning and the end of the argument, it creates an endless circle, never accomplishing anything of substance.

Begging the Question Fallacy: Religious Arguments
It's not uncommon to find religious arguments that commit the 'Begging the Question' fallacy. This may be because the believers using these arguments are simply unfamiliar with basic logical fallacies, but an even more common reason may be that a person's commitment to the truth of their religious doctrines may prevent them from seeing that they are assuming the truth of what they are attempting to prove. Page 2.

Begging the Question Fallacy: Political Arguments
It’s not uncommon to find political arguments that commit the “Begging the Question” fallacy. This may be because so many people are simply unfamiliar with basic logical fallacies, but an even more common reason may be that a person’s commitment to the truth of their political ideology may prevent them from seeing that they are assuming the truth of what they are attempting to prove. Page 3.

Begging the Question: Non-Fallacy
Sometimes you will see the phrase

Logical Fallacies: Appeal to Authority
Appeal to Authority: A fundamental reason why the Appeal to Authority can be a fallacy is that a proposition can be well supported only by facts and logically valid inferences. But by using an authority, the argument is relying upon testimony, not facts. A testimony is not an argument and it is not a fact.

Fallacies of Relevance: Appeal to Unqualified Authority (Argumentum ad Verecundiam)
An appeal to an Unqualified Authority looks much like a legitimate appeal to authority but violates at least one of the three conditions for an appeal to be legitimate: 1. The authority is an expert in the area of knowledge under consideration. 2. The statement of the authority concerns his or her area of mastery. 3. There is agreement among experts in the area of knowledge under consideration. Page 3.

Fallacies of Relevance: Legitimate Appeal to Authority
Legitimate Appeal to Authority: Not every reliance on the testimony of authority figures is fallacious. We often rely upon such testimony, and we can do so for very good reason. Their talent, training, and experience put them in a position to evaluate and report on evidence not readily available to everyone else. For such an appeal to be justified, certain standards must be met. Page 2.

Appeals to Authority: Appeal To Anonymous Authority
Appeal to Anonymous Authority: The fallacy known as the Appeal to Anonymous Authority occurs, as with other fallacious appeals to authority, whenever a person claims that we should believe some proposition because it is also believed or claimed by some authority figure or figures. In this case, however, the key is that the authority is not named. Page 4.

Bad Faith & Fallenness: The Problem with Bad Faith
The reason why bad faith is a problem is that it allows us to escape responsibility for our moral choices by treating humanity as the passive object of larger, organized forces - human nature, the Will of God, emotional passions, social pressures, etc. Sartre argued that we all act to shape our own destiny and as such, we need to accept and deal with the awesome responsibility this imposes upon us. Page 2.

Can Math be used to Disprove Abiogenesis?
A common criticism of abiogenesis is the alleged improbability of life developing by natural means. Often cited is Sir Fred Hoyle, a British astronomer and mathematician, who calculated the odds at 1 in 10 to the 40,000 power against the proteins serving as enzymes in a cell all forming by chance. Is this a valid argument against life developing naturally?

Wishful Thinking and Rationalization
It seems unlikely that, for anyone alive today, the world is exactly the way they wish it would be in every detail. Because there is discordance between what is the case and what we wish the case would be, we all engage at some point in time in wishful thinking: the desire that our situation be something other than it really is.

What is Antitheism?
Antitheism is generally defined as being deliberately opposed to belief in the existence of gods but can also be defined as opposition to God or gods as well. The primary definition means that antitheism 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 belief in the existence of a god, but requires believing that this god is evil in some fashion and thus must be opposed.

What is an Atheist? Who are Atheists?
An athiest is defined as anyone who is not a theist. An atheist is thus anyone who does not happen to believe in the existence of any gods, no matter what the reason. This is a broad definition of atheist which describes the minimal position common to all atheists, no matter what else they may happen to believe or not believe.

What Does The Separation And Church And State Mean To Me, Personally?
Although much of the debate surrounding the separation of church and state involves the relationships between large institutions, that doesn't mean that it does not impact you, personally. In fact, the separation of church and state has a number of implications for an individual citizen.

Radical Skepticism and the Origins of Nihilism
As is the case with Existentialism, the basic principles which underlie nihilism existed long before there was a term that attempted to describe them as a coherent whole. In the case of nihilism, most of the basic principles can be found in the development of ancient skepticism among the ancient Greeks.

Is Secular Humanism a Religion?
Many people disagree with or even loathe secular humanism. A common complaint heard from critics, usually Christian fundamentalists, is that secular humanism is actually a religion - but upon what basis would they make such a claim? Is secular humanism really a religion?

Are there Any Advantages to Being an Atheist?
This is rather an odd question - shouldn’t the primary concern be with whether or not any gods really do exist? Shouldn’t the truth of this question be the focus of our attention, and not any personal advantage or disadvantage which we might get by taking one position or the other?

Freidrich Nietzsche on Doubt, Faith, and Sin
The conflict between Christians and nonbelievers often revolves around the questions of faith and doubt, sometimes depicted as questions of gullibility and skepticism. Christians, on the one hand, have generally promoted faith as having positive value and even being a virtue while doubt, in contrast, is commonly denigrated - and if faith is a virtue, then naturally doubt comes to be regarded as at least a vice if not an outright sin.

Subjectivity: Individuals vs. Systems
One of the vital animating principles of existentialist philosophy has always been the importance of subjectivity over objectivity. This subjectivity extends over a wide range of issues: morality, values, truth, commitment, faith, and so forth. Indeed, most of the basic themes of existentialism can't be fully understood without appreciating the importance of subjectivity.

Philosophic Origins of Agnosticism: Agnostics Before Huxley
Although Thomas Henry Huxley coined the term agnosticism, it did not spring fully-formed from his mind. On the contrary, Huxley was relying upon a long philosophic tradition of religious and epistemological skepticism when he argued that we should approach the question of the existence of God in the 'agnostic' fashion he described.

Is Religion Defined by Belief in God? Can Theism Exists Outside Religion?
Are religion and theism effectively the same thing, such that every religion is theistic and every theist is also religious? Because of some common misconceptions, many people are inclined answer that question positively. It isn't uncommon even among atheists to simply assume that religion and theism are equivalent.

Why Does Religious Authority Matter?
Every religious community, just as is the case in any human community, has a some conception and system of authority. Even the loosest association of believers shares an idea and ideal of what qualifies an authority, what the standards are for some decision to be authoritative, and what circumstances might allow for one to disobey an authority.

Defining Science in a Scientific, Technological Age
The definition of science poses problems for people. Everyone seems to have an idea of what science is, but actually articulating it proves difficult. Doing so, however, is necessary to understand what science really is and what science is not. Understanding science is, in turn, necessary because of its power and influence in modern society. Ignorance about science simply isn't a viable option.

Nonpreferentialists and the Separation of Church and State
In the debate about the separation of church and state, the perspective known as nonpreferentialism is best understood as a subset of accommodationism. Like accommodationists, the non-preferentialists also oppose the recent legal trend which has emphasized stricter separation, and advocate instead a closer relationship between religious groups and the government.

Making Marriage Work Without Gods or Religion
For many in modern American, religion and theism are central features not just in their lives as individuals, but also in their relationships with other people - and this is especially true with their most intimate relationships, such as marriage. It's common for people to regard their religion as a binding force in their marriage, something without which marriage wouldn't be possible. Just because marriage is a religious rite for some, though, doesn't mean it is necessary to all marriages.

Do Abortion Opponents Believe What They Say?
The rhetoric coming from anti-choice activists can be very heated and aggressive. They insist that abortion is murder - that aborting a pregnancy is morally equivalent to infanticide or killing an adult human being. Do they really believe this? This is implausible at best. As heated as their rhetoric is, there is little evidence that anti-choice activists, leaders, or organizations believe what they say because they simply don't act like they believe it. This is good for the rest of society.

Examining the Nature of Religion and Religious Beliefs
What is religion? What are some varieties of religions? What is theism, and what are some of the varieties of that? Atheists aren't theists, but they can be religious - understanding what theism and religion are is key to understanding why that is true.

Do People Follow the Ten Commandments?
There are lots of debates over the cultural and political status of the Ten Commandments, but in all of those debates there is a common assumption that devout religious people are already following them and everyone else should start. Is it true, however, that religious people currently follow the Ten Commandments with any degree of consistency?

Disbelieving Without Good Reasons to Believe
The sentiment expressed here might be considered foundation for modern, critical skepticism: the absence of good reasons for believing a proposition is itself good reason to disbelieve it, at least in the passive sense and possibly in the active sense. Whenever skeptics critique some position, a principle target of criticism is the supposed ground for that belief.

White Supremacy, Christian Supremacy, and Christian Nationalism
The Christian Identity movement, which preaches that America is the True Israel and that its followers are on a mission from God, is perhaps one of the most dangerous theological doctrines in America today. It is made all the more dangerous by the fact that so few people even realize that it exists, much less what exactly it represents. Christian Identity is the dominant theology of many active right-wing Christian groups, including many if not most Ku Klux Klan organizations.

Does Entropy Mean Life is a Miracle?
The nature of the earliest forms of life on our planet are unknown and may remain that way, but we keep coming closer to understanding what they may have been like. Whatever they were like, it seems clear that they arose out of a process of molecular self-assembly. This process is commonplace in our universe.

Godless Views on the Legality and Morality of Abortion
Abortion debates in America tend to focus on religious perspectives and what religious believers think. Godless views on whether abortion is moral and whether a woman's right to choose abortion should remain legally protected are almost never consulted. This is somewhat understandable, given the fact that there is no single atheist position on abortion and no authority to determine what atheists are supposed to think. This doesn't mean, however, that atheists have nothing to offer.

Why Study Religion?
Every decent college and university has a department dealing with the study of religion: religious history, religious beliefs, comparative religion, and perhaps even some theology thrown in. The study of religion is multi-disciplinary, encompassing literature, history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, linguistics, art, and more. Because of the role of religion in human culture, the study of religion can become the study of humanity itself.

Should You Come Out as an Atheist, or Keep Quiet?
Atheists are the most distrusted and despised minority in America; it's no surprise, then, that so many atheists don't reveal their atheism to friends, family, neighbors, or coworkers. Atheists are afraid of how people will react and how they will be treated. Bigotry, prejudice, and discrimination are not uncommon. Despite the dangers, though, atheists should seriously consider coming out of the closet anyway - it's better for them and for atheists generally over the long term.

Natural Theology vs. Theology of Nature
Most theology is done from the perspective of a committed believer, one who has faith in the dominant texts, prophets, and revelations of a particular religious tradition. Theology also attempts to be a philosophical or even scientific enterprise. How theologians manage to merge the two competing tendencies gives rise to varying approaches to theology overall.

Flaws in Reasoning and Arguments: Excess Verbiage
This is less a flaw in the reasoning process than a flaw in the argument or deliberation process. Just because too many words have been expended on explaining an idea or position doesn't mean that there is either anything wrong with the conclusion or with the process which led a person to that conclusion. It is, however, a barrier to communicating these ideas to others.

Why God Can't Be Used as a Cause of the Universe
Causal explanations are functions of natural laws which are products of the universe. Therefore, they can't be used to explain the universe. Perhaps there is no 'cause' of the universe.

Back-Door Establishments of Religion
If a majority of citizens want or approve of some government action, does that action automatically become 'secular'? Some seem to think so.

Blasphemy as Spiritual Conflict
Blasphemy occurs when someone insults God, God's attributes, or God's will. This is also a challenge to religious authority figures.

Heresy as Intra-Religious Conflict
Heresy is holding unorthodox and/or unpopular religious opinions. It's the rejection of a particular religious authority in favor of some other authority. Page 2.

Apostasy as Inter-Religious Conflict
Apostasy is the revolt against or rejection of accept religious authority, usually including abandoning religious faith and belief in a particular god. Page 3.

Religious vs. Secular Humanism: What's the Difference?
The nature of religious humanism and the relationship between humanism and religion is of profound importance for humanists of all types. According to some secular humanists, religious humanism is a contradiction in terms. According to some religious humanists, all humanism is religious - even secular humanism, in its own way. Who is right?

Reasons for Women's Devotion to Religious Fundamentalism
Women tend to be more religious and more committed to religious fundamentalism due to a collection of social, psychological, and even biological factors.

Analysis of the Fourth Commandment: Remember the Sabbath
The Fourth Commandment is unique among ancient cultures. Only the ancient Hebrews set aside an entire day every week as sacred.

Keeping the Sabbath: Violating the Fourth Commandment
As with the Second Commandment, this is arguably violated by just about every Christian denomination and church in existence. The text makes it clear that one is supposed to work for six days and then rest on the seventh and final day of the week. For a week that begins on a Sunday, the seventh and final day of the week is Saturday. Page 2.

Book Review: The Ethics of Abortion: Pro-Life Vs. Pro-Choice
Abortion is one of the most divisive issues in modern US history, perhaps even more so than homosexuality. The sharp divisions cut through politics, religion and even families themselves. At times, it does not seem as though anything like a civil resolution to the conflict will happen anytime soon.

Gospel of Mark, Chapter 7 - Analysis and Commentary
Jesus’ conflicts with Jewish religious tradition continue in the seventh chapter of Mark’s gospel. Of particular importance is his revaluation of what does and does not defile a person: what a person eats doesn’t matter so much as what a person thinks or feels.

Mockery of Jesus (Mark 15:16-20) - Analysis and Commentary
Beating prisoners was a Roman practice, but the scourging and mocking of Jesus by Romans and Jews is likely presented by Mark because it fulfills Jewish prophecies.

Why Truth Matters and How Truth is Defined
Truth matters because reality matters, but what is truth? How can truth be defined? It's a very fundamental question, but it's incredibly hard to answer.

Who was Barabbas in the Bible?
Barabbas was a criminal supposedly released instead of Jesus, though the Romans had no custom for releasing a condemned prisoner on a Jewish holy day.

What is a Neighbor? What does the Bible Say about Neighbors?
In the Bible 'neighbor' may to those one lives near, but it is also used to refer to all Israelites and later to all those to whom one has an ethical duty.

Coyolxauhqui: Aztec Goddess of the Moon
Coyolxauhqui was the Aztec goddess of the moon and the stars. Coyolxauhqui is usually depicted with bells on her cheeks and surrounded by lunar symbols.