Agnosticism & Atheism Sitemap - Page 8 2016-09-26
Coatlicue: Aztec Earth Goddess of Life and Death
Coatlicue was the Aztec earth goddess of life and death who is depicted in a skirt of rattlesnakes, a necklace of skulls and hearts, and snakes coming out of her neck.
Xolotl, Canine God of Twins and Sickness in Aztec Religion
The Aztec canine god Xolotl was responsible for accompanying the dead to Mictlan, guarded the sun, and was the god of bad luck.
Wilderness in the Bible - History, Geography, Religion
In the Bible, wilderness refers both to desolate areas and being beyond organized settlements, control of the government, and traditional civilized norms.
Did Atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair Get School Prayer Banned?
O'Hair is blamed for the elimination of state-sponsored prayers and Bible readings in public schools. But she played no role in one, minimal in the other.
What Is Nihilism? History, Profile, Philosophy and Philosophers
The term nihilism comes from the Latin word 'nihil' which literally means 'nothing.' A brief look at its origins, history, books and philosophy
Black and White Thinking: Flaws in Reasoning and Arguments
Human beings have a strong need to categorize everything; this is not a fault but rather an asset. Without our ability to take isolated instances, gather them together in groups, and then make generalizations, we wouldn't have math, language, or even the ability for coherent thought. Without an ability to generalize from the specific to the abstract, you wouldn't be able to read and understand this right now. Nevertheless, as much of vital asset as it is, it can still be taken too far.
Scopes Monkey Trial Aftermath
John Scopes lost the Scopes Monkey Trial, but many have incorrectly perceived it as a victory for evolution, science, and rationalism. It did put a spotlight on fundamentalism, holding it up to ridicule and leading to widespread rejection of its anti-science stance. The Scopes Monkey Trial also opened the door to wider dissemination of fundamentalists' ideas, leading more people to give them serious consideration. Ultimately, anti-evolution forces were stronger and more successful as a result.
Religion as Faith and Ultimate Concern
There is a common perception that religion is defined not so much by particular doctrines (like the existence of a god) or in particular functions (like providing a structure for morals) but instead by attitude. One of the most famous ways this has been expressed in theologian Paul Tillich's idea that religion and even theism is the focus of our 'ultimate concern.'
Gods' Contradictory Characteristics
Theists often claim that their gods are perfect beings; they describe gods, however, in contradictory and incoherent ways. Numerous characteristics are attributed to their gods, some of which are impossible and some combinations of which are impossible. As described, it's unlikely or impossible for these gods to exist. This doesn't mean that no god could possibly exist, just that the ones theists claim to believe in don't.
What is Critical Thinking? - Open-Mindedness
The term 'critical thinking' is used, in one form or another, throughout this site - but what does it mean? Some may get the impression that it simply involves finding fault with others and others' ideas, but that isn't really the case. As a general rule, critical thinking involves developing some emotional and intellectual distance between yourself and ideas - whether your own or others' - in order to better evaluate their truth, validity, and reasonableness.
Critical Thinking Characteristics and Techniques
The term 'critical thinking' is used, in one form or another, throughout this site - but what does it mean? Some may get the impression that it simply involves finding fault with others and others' ideas, but that isn't really the case. As a general rule, critical thinking involves developing some emotional and intellectual distance between yourself and ideas - whether your own or others' - in order to better evaluate their truth, validity, and reasonableness. Page 2.
Einstein Quotes on Society and Politics
Religious theists who claim Albert Einstein as one of their own might want to take a closer look at his social, political, and economic beliefs. Many of Einstein's opinions would be anathema to conservative Christians today - and perhaps even some moderates as well. Not just an advocate of democracy in politics, Albert Einstein was a critic of capitalism who strongly favored socialist policies. Some conservatives might attribute this to his denial of traditional religion and traditional gods.
Atheism vs. Freethought: Are Atheists All Freethinkers?
A standard dictionary defines a freethinker as 'one that forms opinions on the basis of reason independently of authority; especially one who doubts or denies religious dogma.' What this means is that to be a freethinker, a person has to be willing to consider any idea and any possibility. The standard for deciding the truth-value of claims is not tradition, dogma, or authorities - instead, it must be reason and logic.
What's Wrong With Pledging Allegiance, Under God?
What's wrong with having 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance? Most Americans today probably grew up pledging their allegiance while declaring that America, in addition to being indivisible and promoting
Southern Baptists and the Role of Women
One issue that has been great fodder for critics of the Southern Baptist Convention has been their attitudes toward and treatment of women. In the 1998 convention they revised the Baptist Faith and Message to state that wives must submit to their husbands. In 2000, they passed rules to prevent women from serving as pastor. This has put them out of step with most Protestant denominations.
Southern Baptists and the Role of Women: Reactions
Christian groups have been dismayed at what has come out of the Southern Baptist Convention. Most Protestant groups allow for women to have a role in church affairs, refusing to take literally the biblical command that women should not have authority and should submit to their husbands. The Southern Baptist Convention is out of step with American society and American Protesants. Page 3.
Southern Baptists and Female Pastors: Women Shall Not Teach?
Not content to simply limit women’s role in the home and in marriage, as they did during the 1998 meeting, the Southern Baptist Convention has tried to make sure that women do not play a very important role in religious matters either. During the 2000 meeting they passed new rules which stipulated that women should not serve as pastors. Page 2.
What Is an Explanation? Explanations Are Not Arguments
An explanation is not an argument. Whereas an argument is a series of statements designed to support or establish the truth of an idea, an explanation is a series of statements designed to shed light on some event that is already accepted as a matter of fact.
Atheism and Existentialism: Philosophy and Thought
Although there is no denying that many Christian and even some Jewish theologians have made use of existentialist themes in their writings, it remains a fact that existentialism is much more readily and commonly associated with atheism than with any sort of theism, Christian or otherwise. Not all atheists are existentialists, but an existentialist is probably more likely to be an atheist than a theist - and there are good reasons for this.
Religious Tax Exemptions: Current Laws and Requirements
Tax laws are more complicated than the average person can readily understand; tossing into the mix various things tax-exempt organizations might or might not be allowed to do threatens to make the task of understanding superhuman in nature. In reality, however, the issue isn't all that complicated and the restrictions on what churches and religious organizations can do aren't hard to adhere to.
Children and the Bible - Old Testament Laws
Let's turn our attention now to that group of any society which is perhaps its most defenseless: children. A society can often be judged by how it treats its children. Unfortunately, the laws supposedly handed down by this 'god' to the ancient Hebrews were not always very 'kid-friendly'.
Avoid Common Errors When Debating Atheists
When religious theists debate religion and theism with atheists, it's common to make a lot of mistakes about atheism and atheists themselves. There are many myths and misconceptions which can be easily avoided with a minimal amount of effort. Religious theists need to familiarize themselves with what atheism is, common arguments and their rebuttals, the basics of logical arguments, etc. If you don't even try to learn such things, what's the point of having a conversation in the first place?
Old Earth Creationism
Sometimes, special creationism accepts the existence of an 'old earth,' such that an ancient earth is accepted, but not evolution itself. This requires rejecting a completely literal interpretation of Genesis, but not abandoning it wholly and not simply reading it as metaphorical in the manner of Theistic Evolutionists.
Nontheism vs. Atheism - What's the Difference?
Nontheism is not believing in any gods, the same as the broad definition of atheism. The prefixes a- and non- mean the same thing: not, without, lacking.
Who's Responsible for Oppression? Or For Ending Oppression?
Struggling against oppression cannot be avoided, but one common mistake is to lay all the blame for one's ills at the feet of the oppressors.
Revulsion at Homosexuality: Roots of Homophobia
Many of the religious and political arguments people offer against gay rights mask their true complaint: a personal revulsion against homosexuality.
Traditional Values and Family Values in America
Most Americans report having traditional or family-oriented values - not just Christians who go on about family values, but even atheists, agnostics, and non-Christians. But do they all mean the same thing when they talk about traditional values and family values? Do they even know what they are referring to?
Truth as Consistency & Coherence - Criteria of Truth Based Upon Other Truths
As tests of truth, both consistency and coherence are relativistic criteria. Instead of measuring a belief directly against an outside reality, they measure a belief against other beliefs. If that belief is consistent with or coheres with already-held beliefs, then it is considered true. If it fails to be consistent or to cohere, then it is discarded as false.
Woman as Man's Helper - Women are Created Solely to Help Men
The Genesis depiction of women as inferior to men begins early on when Eve is depicted as being created solely for the sake of helping Adam. Eve owes her existence to Adam not being satisfied with the help offered by the rest of the animals in the Garden of Eden.
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - Zener Cards
seven cardinal and contrary virtues
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - seven cardinal and contraryvirtues
Women as the Keepers of Virtue, Men as the Victims
One of the most interesting things about male attitudes towards women in Islam is the assumption that women must bear the responsibility for men's virtue as well as their own. Women must not only keep themselves pure, but they must not act to cause men to have impure thoughts.
Why Conservative Christians Divorce More Than Atheists
Conservative Christians of all types, evangelical as well as Catholic, tend to link their conservative brand of their religion with proper moral behavior. By far the most popular context is marriage: they claim that a good, solid marriage is only possible when people acknowledge conservative Christianity's claims about the nature of marriage and gender roles. So why is it that Christian marriages, and especially conservative Christian marriages, end in divorce more often than atheist marriages?
Divorce Rates for Atheists and Christians in America
If atheists are less moral than Christians, why are divorce rates for atheists generally lower than for Christians? To be fair, divorce is not itself immoral, but those Christians who complain about the immorality of secular culture tend to point to things like divorce. So if they had a valid point to make, their own divorce rates should be a lot lower than the divorce rates of atheists.
Best Atheist Ad - Readers' Choice for the Best Atheist Ad of 2010
Readers picked 'Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence' from the Centre for Inquiry Canada as the Best Atheist Ad of 2010. There were a lot of good nominees for Best Atheist Ad and all of the finalists were exceptional, so it couldn't have been an easy vote. It's hard to deny though that 'Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence' is a good pick and there are a couple of important qualities that make it stand out from the crowd.
Best Atheist Web Site - Readers' Choice for Best Atheist Site of 2010
Readers picked Iron Chariots as the Best Atheist Web Site of 2010. All of the finalists were strong candidates, but Iron Chariots stands out because of what it is: a Wiki where content is created, edited, and maintained by everyone. I think it earned so much popular support and the resulting Best Atheist Site award because it has harnessed (chariots, harnessed... get it?) the knowledge and passion of so many people to provide a massive online resource for both atheists and theists.
Best Atheist Book - Readers' Choice for Best Atheist Book of 2010
Readers picked The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails, edited by John W. Loftus, as the Best Atheist Book of 2010. This is a great choice for Best Atheist Book because Loftus brings together many different atheists and skeptics - experts in fields like psychology, medicine, and anthropology. Loftus' book has ten authors and fifteen chapters of skeptical critiques of orthodox Christian doctrines and general religious and theistic beliefs.
Best Atheist Blog - Readers' Choice for Best Atheist Blog of 2010
Readers picked Pharyngula as the Best Atheist Blog of 2010. Although P.Z. Myers' specialty is biology, he writes regularly on many issues that are important to atheists: science generally, skepticism, church/state separation and secularism, and of course atheism itself. This is arguably an important quality of what goes into making one of the best atheist blogs: the ability to post about and comment on a variety of subjects rather than just one or two.
Best Atheist to Follow on Twitter - Readers' Choice for Best Atheist to Follow on Twitter
Readers picked Religulous as the Best Atheist to Follow on Twitter. The finalists for this category were all exceptional and I'd have had a hard time choosing the best if it had been up to me, but Religulous does provide a lot of different types of information in tweets throughout the day and this may be why he already has so many followers.
Best Atheist Social Networking Site - Readers' Choice for Best Social Networking Site of 2010
Readers picked Atheist Nexus as the Best Atheist Social Networking Site of 2010. Social networking has become one of the most popular uses of the internet and it's no surprise that atheists have also taken advantage of online software to find each other. There aren't very many social networking sites specifically for atheists but Atheist Nexus seems to be the largest, so it's no surprise that they had so much popular support for Best Atheist Social Networking Site.
Best Atheist Facebook Page - Readers' Choice for Best Atheist Facebook Page of 2010
Readers picked The Thinking Atheist as having the Best Atheist Facebook Page of 2010. Given how many people 'like' The Thinking Atheist page on Facebook - nearly 21,000 at the time of this being written - it's not hard to understand why there would be so much popular support for voting for it as the Best Atheist Facebook Page overall.
Best Atheist Forum - Readers' Choice for Best Atheist Forum of 2010
Readers picked r/atheism @ Reddit as the Best Atheist Forum of 2010. Reddit and its sub-reddits are not a traditional forum format and I debated accepting nominations for it in this category, but all the things people do in traditional forums can be found here so I had to admit that r/atheism qualified and the strong support from its members put it on top in voting for Best Atheist Forum.
Best Atheist Podcast - Readers' Choice for Best Atheist Podcast of 2010
Readers picked The Atheist Experience as the Best Atheist Podcast of 2010. A product of the Atheist Community of Austin, the Atheist Experience may be the oldest atheist podcast around. The Best Atheist Podcast is also quite a bit more than just a podcast because it was originally created as (and still is, of course) a weekly live call-in show on the Public Access cable television station in Austin, Texas.
Best Atheist Resources of 2010 - Agnosticism/Atheism Readers' Choice Awards
About.com created the Readers' Choice Awards to help Guides showcase the best products, features and services in multiple categories, from technology to hobbies to parenting. On this Agnosticism / Atheism site, the Readers' Choice Awards are designed to showcase the best resources available out there for agnostics, atheists, freethinkers, secularists, and skeptics.
Czech Republic: Most Atheist Country in Europe?
The Czech Republic may be a great place to live for atheists - even those Czechs who aren't atheist are, by and large, disdainful of organized religion. A
Did Tom Cruise Eat Katie Holmes' Placenta?
So, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have had their first child, a girl they've named Suri but which the media has dubbed TomKitten. Before the birth, it was
Texas State Laws on Flag Burning, Desecration: Texas's Laws on Desecration, Abuse, Commmercial Use of the American Flag and State Flag
In Texas, it is a misdemeanor if someone
Affirming vs. Swearing Oaths in Court
Court scenes in American movies, television, and books typically show people swearing an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Usually they swear an oath 'to God' and with a hand on the Bible. Such scenes are so common that most people seem to assume that it's required, but it's not.
C.S. Lewis vs. Atheism: Why Does Lewis Ridicule Atheists?
C.S. Lewis is often described as an
Omnipotence - What Does It Mean to Be All-Powerful?
Omnipotence, sometimes known as being all-powerful, refers to God's ability to do absolutely anything God wants. This characteristic is usually treated as implied from God's characteristic as absolute creator. Unfortunately, the most absolute sense of omnipotent has been found to be incoherent.
God is Omnipotent: What does it mean to be all-powerful?
The various conflicts that afflict the concept of omnipotence shouldn’t be at all surprising. Philosophers and theologians did not start with an empirical observation that God was omnipotent and then proceed to come to terms with how omnipotence should be understood in relation to God’s other attributes. Page 2.
Unreliability of Eyewitness Testimony and Memory
Reports from eyewitnesses play an important role in the development and propagation of both religious and paranormal beliefs. People are often ready to believe the personal reports of what others say that they have seen and experienced. Thus, it is important to consider just how reliable people's memory and their testimony can be.
How Genetic Mutations Drive Evolution
All of evolution is based on genetic change, and mutations in our genes produce evolutionary changes over time. Here's how.
What's Wrong With Buddhism? An Atheist's View
If there is one religion which at least receives significant sympathy from irreligious atheists, it is Buddhism.
Cosmological Argument and the First Cause
The Cosmological Argument covers a lot of ground and takes a number of different forms. The most common deal with two ideas: that the existence of the universe requires a god as an explanation (First Cause - this form is also called the Etiological Argument) or that order in the universe requires a god as an explanation.
The Cosmological Argument covers a lot of ground and takes a number of different forms. The most common deal with two ideas: that the existence of the universe requires a god as an explanation (First Cause - this form is also called the Etiological Argument) or that order in the universe requires a god as an explanation. Page 2.
What Type of Religion Is Christianity?
Approximately one-third of all people in the world belong to the Christian religion. There is no question that as a religion, Christianity is one of the largest and most powerful forces on the planet - indeed, it would probably dominate the planet if it were not for the fact that it is divided in so many different ways. But what sort of religion is Christianity?
Jesus' Messianic Secret: Did He Conceal His Identity?
Throughout the gospels, but especially in the gospel of Mark, we have regular examples of Jesus’ admonishing both people and demons not to reveal to others who he truly was. This has puzzled many scholars and given rise to a number of explanations, including the idea that even Jesus was unaware of his full identity.
Humanism and the Reformation History
It is a historical irony that the Reformation created a political and religious culture in northern Europe that was especially hostile to the spirit of free inquiry and scholarship that characterized Humanism. Why? Because the Protestant Reformation owed so much to the developments of Humanism and the work done by humanists to change how people thought.
Religiously Motivated Discrimination
Conservative Christians are failing to convince enough people that homosexuality is abhorrent enough to justify restricting gays' civil liberties. Their new tactic is to argue that substantively recognizing the equality of gays would require violating the First Amendment. Christians' belief in God's condemnation of homosexuality is claimed to be so important that forcing them to treat gays equally means forcing them to violate their religious beliefs.
The Real Reasons Why People Believe in God
Theists offer all sorts of reasons for why they believe in a god but the only respectable reason is one which, if proven false, would at the very least cause them to seriously reconsider their belief and perhaps drop it entirely.
Why Do People Become Atheists? - Possible Explanations
This is a very good question; unfortunately, it isn't very easy to answer. There are perhaps as many reasons for being an atheist as there are atheists. What I mean by this is that the road to atheism tends to be very personal and individual, based upon the specific circumstances of a person's life, experiences, and attitudes.
What Does It Take for a Person to Become an Atheist?
So, do you want to be an atheist? Now you can learn the simple and easy way to become an atheist. If you follow these steps, you'll be an atheist in no time at all!
Albert Einstein Quotes on Death and the Afterlife
Albert Einstein's denial of the existence of life after death suggests that he didn't believe in any gods and is part of his rejection of traditional religion.
Marriage in Early and Modern American Civil Life
Many argue that marriage is essentially and necessarily a religious rite; therefore, legalizing gay marriage constitutes a type of sacrilege and an unjustified intrusion of the state into what is necessarily a religious matter.
Scientifically, God Does Not Exist
It is possible to say that, scientifically, God does not exist - just as science is able to discount the existence of a myriad of other alleged beings.
God Exists: Is God Necessary and Self-Existent?
It might seem odd to list
When Does a Fetus Become a Person with Rights?
Abortion is the focus of some of the most intense social, cultural, political, religious, and ethical debates in modern American society.
Science Denial for Beginners
=Denial is a means by which people hold on to ideologies that are threatened by reality and preserve a sense of control over a world they cannot directly manage.
Can Atheism Be Compatible With Spiritual Beliefs?
Spirituality is a vague concept without much cognitive content. It does, however, carry emotional content. When a person is using the term, they are more likely trying to convey something about their emotions and their emotional reactions to things than a coherent set of beliefs and ideas.
Are There Any Atheistic Religions That Exist?
People can be adherents of some religions without bothering to believe in any gods, thus allowing for a person to be a religious atheist.
Does Evolution Contradict Christianity?
Fundamentalists insist that belief in evolution undermines the Christian faith. Do they have a point and if so, what in Christianity is contradicted by evolution?
Christianity and Violence: Reformation
It is being argued that religion will prevent violence - but what does history tell us? How and why did Catholics kill Protestants and Protestants kill Catholics during the Reformation over their disagreements about Christian dogmas?
Pascal's Wager: Is It Safer to Bet on God or Not?
Someone who offers Pascal's Wager is arguing that to believe in God is a better bet than not believing in God. If you believe and God exists, youâ€™ll go to heaven and avoid hell; if you believe and are wrong, you lose nothing. If you donâ€™t believe in God and God does exist, youâ€™ll lose heaven and go to hell; if youâ€™re right, then you gain nothing. There are a lot of problems with this argument.
Freedom of Religion Requires Freedom From Religion
Conservatives insist that the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion, and argue against strict separation of church and state. Too often, though, conservatives seem to have a flawed understanding of what freedom from religion really entails and fail to realize that freedom from religion is crucial to religious liberty in general.
Absurdity - Themes and Ideas in Existentialist Thought
An important component of existentialist philosophy is the portrayal of existence as being fundamentally irrational in nature. Whereas most philosophers have attempted to create philosophical systems that produce a rational account of reality, existentialist philosophers have focused upon the subjective, irrational character of human existence.
Arguments Against Gay Marriage: It Would Be a Sacrilege
Although rarely offered as an explicit argument against gay marriage, the idea that marriage is a sacred religious sacrament is one of the most important arguments for opponents and underlies much of the vehemence which motivates them in a way that the other arguments fail to explain. Indeed, if it weren't for the idea that marriage is sacred, it seems unlikely that the debate would be as rancorous as it is.
Agnostic Theism - Dictionary Definition
Agnostic theism is defined as believing in the existence of a god but not claiming to know for sure that this god definitely exists. This definition makes it clear that agnosticism is not incompatible with theism.
Declaration of Independence and Christianity Myth
Many argue that the Declaration of Independence endorses the idea that the United States was founded upon religious, if not Christian, principles, and therefore church and state must remain intertwined in order for this nation to continue properly. They are wrong.
Objective Truth: Are Things True Regardless of Belief?
The idea of objective truth is the idea that no matter what we believe to be true, some things will always be true and other things will always be false. Beliefs have no bearing on the facts of the world around us. That which is true is always true - even if we stop believing it and even if we stop existing at all.
Myth: A Lack of Belief is Still a Belief, so Atheism is a Belief in No God
When religious theists are informed that atheism is not 'belief that God does not exist,' as they previously assumed, but rather that atheism is really defined as the 'lack of belief in the existence of any gods' or simply 'disbelief in gods,' many get defensive. Perhaps they cannot accept being mistaken about something, or perhaps they realize how many of their assumptions and arguments about atheism and atheists fall apart in light of the real definition. Either way, be prepared for a fight.
Fallacy of Amphiboly - Ambiguity Fallacy Due to Grammar Defects
The fallacy of amphiboly occurs whenever a sentence is ambiguous because the grammar allows for multiple interpretations. Usually, this is because of defects in how the sentence is structured. Amphiboly tends to be found in humor, but there are some serious situations and arguments where the fallacies of amphiboly can be found.
Do Religious Believers Deserve Respect?
An increasing source of conflict in the world today is centered around religious believers' demands for respect. Muslims demand 'respect' that would forbid criticism, satire, or mocking of their religion. Christians demand 'respect' that would amount to something very similar. Nonbelievers are caught in a bind when it's not clear what 'respect' is supposed to entail and how it is supposed to be achieved. If respect is so important to believers, they need to be clear about what they want.
What Do Religions Say About Birth Control?
When religious positions on birth control are discussed, we usually hear how contraceptives are forbidden. Religious traditions are more pluralistic and varied than that, however, and even within the religions most publicly opposed to birth control we find that there are traditions which would permit the use of contraceptives, even if only in limited circumstances. Itâ€™s important to understand these traditions because not every religion regards birth control as a simplistic issue.
Should You Reveal Your Atheism to Your Family?
Many atheists struggle with deciding whether they should reveal their atheism to their family or not. Especially if a family is very religious or devout, telling parents and other family members that one not only doesn't accept the family's religion anymore, but in fact rejects even belief in a god, can strain familial ties to the breaking point. In some cases, the consequences can include physical or emotional abuse and even having all family ties cut off.
C.S. Lewis and Christian Allegory: Narnia, Sci-Fi
C.S. Lewis may be best known for his children's books, in particular the Narnia series. When he first began this series he was already an accomplished author, but his publisher and friends argued against a move into children's literature on the assumption that it would harm his reputation as an author of more serious philosophy and apologetics. That didn't turn out to be the case.
Causes, History, and Violence of the Crusades
Why were the Crusades launched? There is a wide variety of opinion on this matter. Some argue that they were a necessary response by Christendom to the oppression of pilgrims in Muslim-controlled Jerusalem. Others claim that it was political imperialism masked by religious piety. Still others argue that it was a social release for a society that was becoming overburdened by landless nobles. There's a bit of truth in all of this. Page 3.
What Were the Crusades? Overview of Causes, History, Violence
Mention the word
Crusades: Historical Overview | Causes, History, and Violence of the Crusades
There is some arbitrariness to any categorization or division of the Crusades â€” over 200 years of almost continual fighting on multiple fronts. Where does one Crusade end and the next begin? Despite such problems, there is a traditional system that allows for a fair overview. Page 2.
Violence in the Crusades | Causes, History, and Violence of the Crusades
The Crusades were an incredibly violent undertaking, even by medieval standards. The Crusades have often been remembered in a romantic fashion, but perhaps nothing has deserved it less. Hardly a noble quest in foreign lands, the Crusades represented the worst in religion generally and in Christianity specifically. Page 4.
Freedom From Religion vs. Freedom of Religion Myth
This claim is common, but it rests on a misunderstanding of what real freedom of religion entails. The most important thing to remember is that freedom of religion, if it is going to apply to everyone, also requires freedom from religion. Why is that? You do not truly have the freedom to practice your religious beliefs if you are also required to adhere to any of the religious beliefs or rules of other religions.
Adolf Hitler on Religion, God, and Christianity
It's popular among Christian apologists to claim that Hitler, the Nazis, and the Holocaust are all consequences of atheism, secularism, and liberalism. Such arguments fly in the face of reality: Adolf Hitler regularly proclaimed his faith in God, Nazi ideology was committed to supporting Christianity (on its terms, of course), and Nazi anti-Semitism was firmly grounded in Christian anti-Semitism. Hitler's theism, religiosity, and Christianity are strongly supported in his own words.
Sophistry: Deliberately Flawed and Fallacious Arguments
An argument which appears to be quite valid but is in reality invalid is one which suffers from any of a number of fallacies or other flaws. We should expect to see this sort of thing because most people do not reason very well and no one reasons perfectly. Fallacious arguments, then, are natural - but what is not so natural is to offer fallacious and flawed arguments deliberately. When that happens, we call it sophistry.
Relationship Between Creationism and Evolution
Perhaps the most significant characteristic of Scientific Creationism is its almost obsessive focus on evolution. Although some creationists try to engage in scientific work or try to develop arguments about how a global Flood could have created the geological evidence we find, most of what passes for debate among creationists is little more than attacks on evolution itself. This betrays what the primary concern of creationism ultimately is: to reject and deny evolution.
History of Humanism With Ancient Greek Philosophers
Although the term 'humanism' was not applied to a philosophy or belief system until the European Renaissance, those early humanists were inspired the ideas and attitudes which they discovered in forgotten manuscripts from ancient Greece. This Greek humanism can be identified by a number of shared characteristics...
Intellectual Life - Why Atheists Should Be Intellectuals
If a person has a reputation of being an 'intellectual' that can be a mixed bag. Among some that would be regarded as a compliment but among many others it would be treated as more of an insult. There is, in fact, widespread anti-intellectualism in some circles which seems incomprehensible to those who would treat the
The Knights Templar and the Holy Grail
Founded in 1118 by Hugh de Payens in order to help protect pilgrims to the Holy Land and they were originally housed close to the site where Solomonâ€™s Temple once stood. The rules of their order, formally granted in 1128, were created by St. Bernard of Clairveaux and officially given to them at the Council of Troyes, France. The Knights Templar became one of the most famous and powerful of all the monastic military orders during the Crusading era.
There Are No Atheists in Foxholes
The claim that there are no atheists in foxholes has been around for a long time, but it became especially popular after the terrorist attacks in America on September 11, 2001. This myth claims that during times of great crisis, in particular those which threaten a person's life, it is not possible to 'hold out' and maintain disbelief in a higher, saving power. During such experiences, the 'natural' and automatic reaction of a human being is to start believing in God and hope for salvation.
How to Evaluate and Critique Logical Arguments
Knowing what an argument is and how it is structured is only the beginning. You can't properly evaluate and critique logical arguments without understanding the ways in which those arguments can go wrong. These problems are generally known as flaws and fallacies: a fallacy is a specific kind of defect in an arguments reasoning or inferences while a flaw is some other background defect in attitude, presentation, or reception. Can you recognize flaws and fallacies in arguments you see?
Capitalizing Atheism - Why Atheism Shouldn't be Capitalized
One of the earliest signs that a person doesn't really understand what atheism is comes when they spell 'atheism' or 'atheist' with a capital A in the middle of a sentence. In English, this is only grammatical with proper nouns and thus this signals that the person imagines atheism to a be a proper noun - in other words, some sort of ideology or religion like Christianity or Objectivism. When you see someone inappropriately capitalizing atheism, beware.
Christian Nationalism and War Theology in Weimar Germany
Christianity is proclaimed by its adherents as a religion of peace which transcends national borders in a manner that unites humanity. The reality, though, is that Christianity has been deeply involved not only with ideologies of nationalism, but also ideologies of war and violence. It's happened before and it could happen again.
Glossary of Religion and Philosophy - via negativa
God, Time, Causation: Temporal Requirements for Causes to Exist
It is common to argue that because everything we experience appears to have a cause for its existence, then the totality of everything (the universe) must also have a cause for its existence. It is assumed that the universe cannot be self-caused, so therefore the cause must be outside the universe â€” God, in other words. Is this a legitimate argument? Can we conclude that the universe has a cause because everything in the universe has a cause and, therefore, that some particular god exists?
Ancient Roman Atheism - Skepticism & Atheism in Ancient Rome
The philosophy of Rome owed much to Greece, and so it is not surprising to find some of the same critical themes later taken up by Roman writers and philosophers. In fact, it's hard to find much that's entirely new and original in Roman philosophy - the Romans tended to eschew speculative philosophy in favor of more practical concerns like morality and how to live a good life. Even here, though, they tended to lean heavily on Greek writings.
Creationists on Microevolution & Macroevolution
It is not possible to get an accurate picture of evolution from creationist literature - creationists simply won't use key scientific terminology the same way scientists do. Because the subject is scientific, though, this means they are using key terminology incorrectly. What's more, it's implausible that they are ignorant of the fact that they are using that terminology incorrectly. So, it's difficult not to conclude that they are simply lying about science for the sake of a religious agenda.
CRITIC: Learning to Evaluate Claims
Critical thinking is very important - every day we are confronted with a host of claims which we need to be able to evaluate. We need to consider political claims, economic claims, religious claims, commercial claims, and so forth. Is there any way people can learn to do a better and more consistent job? Ideally everyone would receive a solid grounding in critical thinking while still in school, but that's not likely to happen. Adults must learn how to improve the skills they already have.
Immanuel Kant on Freedom and Thought: Do We Really Think Freely or Independently?
Certainly one may say, 'Freedom to speak or write can be taken from us by a superior power, but never the freedom to think!' But how much, and how correctly, would we think if we did not think, as it were, in common with others, with whom we mutually communicate!
Charitable Choice, Public Funding and Discrimination
One of the current political goals of religious conservatives in America is to get public funding for social programs run by religious organizations without forcing them to give up the ability to discriminate on the basis of religion. Thus, in effect, Americans would end up funding religious discrimination and bigotry with their tax dollars; indeed, some of those who experience the discrimination might arguably end up paying for it.
The Pentateuch or the First Five Books of the Bible
If you want to understand the Bible, you need to understand the Pentateuch. Here in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, you'll find most if not all of the major themes that recur throughout the Bible as well as important characters and stories that continue to be important.
Using Religious Scripts to Define Social Roles
Most people don't think about the social roles they play. They don't give much thought to the expectations they have to fulfill as man or woman, husband or wife, parent or child. They simply try to meet those expectations as best they can, following the examples they see in others and the demands imposed upon them by social, political, and religious authorities.
How Was Nazi Germany an Example of Christian Nationalism & Power?
Hitler and the Nazis are often cited as an example of the horrible crimes which atheists have committed in the 20th century. They are only assumed to be atheists, though, because people can't imagine Christians doing such things; in reality, Hitler explicitly appealed to Christianity on a regular basis and this was part of why he was popular. Not every Christian supported the Nazis, of course, but he was most popular with conservative Christians seeking a restoration of traditional values.
In God We Trust - An Atheist Analyzes U.S. National Motto
The use of such a patently religious phrase for a national motto is used by fundamentalists as an excuse to have the government promote their beliefs.
Beliefs & Reasoning - Differentiating Beliefs from Reasoning
It's important to differentiate between beliefs and reasoning. The problem isn't that people mistakenly assume that they are the same, but rather that people can assume that having 'good' or 'right' beliefs as ends in themselves, regardless of the reasoning process that produce them. I won't dismiss the value of having good rather than harmful beliefs, but relying on unsound reasoning processes doesn't leave much room for improvement and learning.
Agnosticism & Atheism
Agnosticism & Atheism. Page 2.
Greek vs. Chinese Philosophy
Greek and Chinese philosophy were very different. But why? Not only did they influence their surrounding cultures, but they were in fact heavily conditioned by
Cat Stevens: Judaism a "so-called religion"
Cat Stevens, now known by the name Yusuf Islam, gained a lot of sympathy when he was prevented from entering the United States. Some of that sympathy might
Myth: Atheists Haven't Experienced True Religion or the True God
Atheists have constructed many trenchant critiques of both religion and theism over the years. Some of these critiques can be responded to reasonably, but others are much more difficult to address in anything like an adequate manner. Sometimes, it may be easier to simply find a way to dismiss atheists entirely by claiming that atheists have never had any of the relevant and necessary experiences to teach them about God and religion. If they did, they would understand and believe.
Who is Prejudiced Against Atheists? Who Attacks Godless Atheism, Liberalism?
It might be expected that conservative Christians would hold at least some animus towards atheists, and in fact hostility towards atheism is almost universal among 'born-again Christians.' Even non-Christians and liberal Christians, however, demonstrate a great deal of anti-atheist animus. Tirades against 'godless liberalism' on the part of the Christian Right may be causing some liberals to tell atheists to simply go away or at least stop agitating on behalf of secularism and science.
Christian Segregation and Opposition to Integration
One of the central organizing features of conservative evangelical Christianity in America today is the perceived need for absolute standards of social order - even if that includes a social order founded on racism and white supremacism.
What's a Radical Atheist?
Many religious theists — and even a few atheists — try to attack atheists through the use of derisive labels designed to make atheists seem worse than they are.
Skepticism & Critical Thinking - How to Think Skeptically & Critically
In order to debate well on any topic and think critically about all of the opinions we encounter, 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.
Ethics of Individual Moral Preference
Should people be allowed to make moral choices for themselves or should such choices be turned over to higher authorities? Actually, that's a false dilemma: some choices are always restricted while others are generally allowed. Thus, the real question is where we draw the line: at what point do we say that no one should be permitted to make personal choices?
Reason vs. Emotions: When Are Emotions Unreasonable?
Is it possible or reasonable to evaluate emotional reactions against standards of reason? Yes - emotions can be evaluated because they are conditioned by our assumptions, beliefs, and culture.
Gender and Marriage: What's Love Got To Do With It?
Religious conservatives insist that the nature of marriage is and has always been limited to a union of two people of different genders. This is false in two basic, essential ways: it's false that this has always been the nature of marriage and it's false that any one attribute or characteristic has always been the nature of marriage, whether it's gender or anything else.
Friedrich Nietzsche Biography: Biographical History of Existentialism
A difficult, complex, and controversial philosopher, Nietzsche has been claimed as part of a number of difficult philosophical movements. Because his work was consciously designed to break from the philosophy of the past, it is perhaps expected that much of what would come after him would expand upon the themes he discussed and therefore claim him as their forerunner.
Marriage and the Gay Community - Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America
Is there anything about marriage, conceived of as the commitment to be there for one another, which somehow excludes homosexual couples? Are gays in any way incapable or unlikely to make such commitments? Is there something about gay couples that would prevent either the law or the community from promoting the commitment of marriage? Page 2.
Book Review - Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages, by Mark Abley
Everyone knows about language - the ability to use language is, in fact, one of the defining characteristics of the human species, something glimpsed only in rudimentary forms in other animals. Humans have developed an incredible variety of languages over the millennia, but something rather disturbing is occurring: a great many languages are dying out and may soon disappear. Page 2.
Book Review - The Triumph of Sociobiology, by John Alcock
Is sociobiology a science or an ideology? Does it provide important insights into the evolutionary development and biological bases for human and animal behavior, or is it merely a tool for the elite to justify social inequalities? Such questions can reveal just how polarized the debate over sociobiology can be: the subject has received quite a lot of criticism, but to what degree is any of it true and justified? Page 2.
Book Review - Tortured Subjects: Pain, Truth, and the Body in Early Modern France, by Lisa Silverman.
Tortured Subjects: People may understand that torture was once used as a normal part of the legal process in Europe, but do people really understand how and why? Is it because the system had so little regard for human suffering? Is it because the system was simply sadistic? Or was there perhaps a better reason, one which appeared reasonable at the time? Page 2.
Book Review - The Ecumenical Cruise and Other Three-Legged Chicken Philosophy Tales, by Walter Benesch
Most books on philosophy and theology either take the historical approach by explaining ideas as they developed chronologically, or take a topical approach by explaining ideas in specific groups. Both approaches have a tendency towards being dry, as can be the case in any attempt to explain or explore abstract ideas. Every once in a while, though, someone comes along who does things differently. Page 2.
Substantive and Essentialist Definitions of Religion: Examining the Content and Essence of Religions
The basic problem with substantive definitions of religion is that when they are general enough to perhaps apply to all religions, they are too vague to be very useful and end up being applicable to belief systems or beliefs which just shouldn’t be labeled religions. Once they are no longer too vague, however, they describe as 'essential' to religion something which not all religions actually have and which is not alone in structuring religious beliefs.
Substantive & Essentialist Definitions of Religion: Examples of the Content and Essence of Religions
Many people involved with the study of religion try to define it based upon its conceptual content. According to substantive and essentialist definitions, religion is characterized by some basic essence which is common to all religious systems, but not to any non-religious systems. Below are various short quotes from philosophers and scholars of religion which attempt to capture the nature of religion from a substantive or essentialist perspective. Page 2.
Truth as Emotions, Intuition, & Instinct - Criteria of Truth from Inside Us
This second group of criteria for truth are very personal and internal, involving the manner in which a person reacts to the outside world and even the very nature of their character. Although the development of all three (emotions, intuition, and instinct) certainly depends upon one’s social circumstances and background, they are in the end fundamentally very subjective.
Sea of Galilee: Profile of the Sea of Galilee - History, Geography, Religion
The Sea of Galilee is a freshwater lake 150 feet deep and 700 feet below sea level. Technically it is a lake, but the Hebrew yam can mean either a freshwater lake or a proper sea. Surrounding cities include Bethsaida, Capernaum, Tiberias, and Hippos. The Hebrew name is Kinneret, from the Hebrew word for harp (kinnor), a reference its harp shape.
Atheist Bigotry: Are Atheists Bigots for Generalizing About Religious Theists? Privileged Classes Always Object to Generalizations, Criticisms
One complaint made about some atheist activists is that they are in fact anti-religious and anti-theistic bigots who are just expressing their personal bigotry, not arguing on behalf of atheists' rights and liberty. There is a legitimate point to be made here, in that generalizing about an entire class of people for the actions of only some members is technically incorrect. What's missing, though, is an appreciation for how the
God as an Omnipotent, Controlling Bully
A common argument against the existence of God is that omnipotence is incompatible with being all-loving, given how much evil there is in the world. There is another problem with this depiction of God, though: how can there be real and genuine love if God is in complete control of everything?
Cry Out to Buddha: Why Don't Christians Try, Just in Case?
Have you ever had a Christian suggest to you that you try out believing in God and Jesus, 'just in case'? Have you ever had a Christian suggest that you pray to Jesus or cry out to God, just to see if you would get a response? Curiously, Christians offering such advice don't seem to be very keen on following it themselves, at least when it comes to 'trying out' other religions.
Individualism, Greed, and the Christian Right
Perhaps the most important catch-phrase of the Christian Right in America is 'family values' and a significant amount of their political, social, and cultural agenda is predicated on the defense of 'family values.' One of the problems with this is that the Christian Right has a very narrow conception of what qualifies as a threat to 'family values.' It's almost all about sex (procreation, sexuality, abortion) and never money or materialism.
Why Believe in God? Reasons to Question Why You Should Believe in God
Belief in god is popular and too few people stop to question whether belief in god is warranted. That really should change - there are many good reasons for why a person should take the time to question whether or not they should believe in the existence of any gods.
Creationist Concessions to Reality - How Creationists Concede to Reality
Creationism is a key element in conservative religions' battles against liberal modernity and the Enlightenment. This is why it's so important when we find creationists essentially conceding some of the vital premises of their opposition. It's tough for creationists not to do so because they have chosen to square off against science and reality itself. Eventually they have to make some concessions to reality just to maintain a semblance of credibility.
What Do Atheists Say About Religion & Christianity? Are Atheists Anti-Religion?
Because atheists are so often seen critiquing religion, it's common for religious theists to wonder what atheists really think about religion and why. The truth is complex, however, because there is no single atheistic opinion about religion. Atheists' critical stance with regards to religion is more a product of cultural trends in the West than of anything internal to atheism itself, which is only the absence of belief in gods. Atheists have a wide variety of opinions about religion.
Christian Right vs Godless Liberalism: Why Does the Christian Right Hate, Attack Godlessness, Godless Liberals?
The nature of godless liberalism can be difficult to understand because of the misuse of the label by the Christian Right. According to them, all liberals are godless because they don't adhere to conservative evangelical or fundamentalist Christianity. Only conservative political policies are seen as compatible with Christianity; therefore, all other policies are anti-Christian, anti-religious, and anti-God. Advocates are all thus godless liberals, but that misrepresents the nature of atheism.
Muscular Christianity: Promoting Masculine Christianity Over Feminized Christianity
Because churches had become so associated with women and feminization, in the late 19th century Christian men began seeking changes in the nature of Christianity and Christian churches which reflected 'masculine' values. In America, this early form of Muscular Christianity used sport as a conveyor or moral values, like manliness and discipline. Today sport is used mostly as a vehicle for evangelization, but the basic principle that Christianity must be 'manly' survives in other contexts.
Are Public School Graduation Prayers Constitutional?
Questions about the constitutionality of graduation and commencement prayers are difficult to answer because the case law varies across the nation.
George Washington on Religious Conflict
The founders of America were well aware of how religious disagreements could ravage a society and lead to the wholesale destruction of towns and cities. For them, the European religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries were still recent memory and they were determined to do whatever they could to ensure that nothing similar happen in the newly created United States.
Understanding the True Nature of Christian Love
Christianity is often described as a religion founded upon love, but it might be worth inquiring more closely just what 'love' is supposed to mean in this case. Christian behavior often suggests that love has more to do with submission and repression and this may not be an aberration.
Legislating Morality: A Bad Idea or Good Law?
If there are laws without a moral purpose, perhaps we should wonder what their purpose really is. At least some of those possible purposes would be rather antithetical to the sort of society we should want to have.
Book Review - The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus, by Charlotte Allen
Who was Jesus? Innumerable people - scholars and lay people alike - have wanted to answer that question and have therefore embarked upon a 'quest for the historical Jesus.' What has been the result of their efforts? According to Charlotte Allen, not very much. Allen argues that these 'quests' reveal much more about the psychology and ideology of the questors and little or nothing about Jesus.
What is Marriage Between a Man and a Woman?
Defining marriage in terms of sex (one man and one woman) begs the question of how we define the sexes - how we define who is a 'man' and who is a 'woman.' Deciding who can marry whom isn't always a simple matter of determining what sorts of internal organs a person has.
Fertile Crescent: Profile of Fertile Crescent Region - History, Geography, Religion
The Fertile Crescent begins in southern Iraq where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers empty into the Persian Gulf and extends north along with the rivers, turns west in what was ancient Assyria, then turns south in modern Syria.
Adolf Hitler: Fascism is Closer to Christianity than Liberalism or Marxism
What did Adolf Hitler think about the relationship between Christianity and Fascism? Hitler wrote: 'The fact that the Catholic Church has come to an agreement with Fascist Italy ...proves beyond doubt that the Fascist world of ideas is closer to Christianity than those of Jewish liberalism or even atheistic Marxism, to which the so-called Catholic Center Party sees itself so closely bound, to the detriment of Christianity today and our German people.'
Book Review - Faith-Based Diplomacy: Trumping Realpolitik, edited by Douglas Johnston
Considering how much of a role religion can play in causing conflicts around the world, is it reasonable to think that we can find solutions and resolutions that don't involve religion?
God is Omniscient: What does it mean to be all-knowing?
Omniscience, also sometimes known as being all-knowing, refers to God's ability to know absolutely everything. This characteristic is usually treated as a consequence of one of two ways in which God exists: either because God exists outside of time, or because God exists as part of time. Unfortunately, the most absolute sense of omniscience has been found to be incoherent.
God is Omniscient: Whats Wrong with Omniscience?
The various conflicts within and with the concept of omniscience shouldn’t surprise us. Philosophers and theologians did not start with an empirical observation that God was omniscient and then proceed to come to terms with how omniscience should be understood in relation to God’s other attributes. Page 2.
Fallacies of Presumption: False Dilemma, Excluded Middle, False Dichotomy, Bifurcation
The False Dilemma fallacy occurs when an argument offers a false range of choices and requires that you pick one of them. The range is false because there may be other, unstated choices which would only serve to undermine the original argument. If you concede to pick one of those choices, you accept the premise that those choices are indeed the only ones possible.
False Dilemma Fallacy: Examples and Discussion
The False Dilemma fallacy occurs when an argument offers a false range of choices and requires that you pick one of them. The range is false because there may be other, unstated choices which would only serve to undermine the original argument. If you concede to pick one of those choices, you accept the premise that those choices are indeed the only ones possible. Page 2.
False Dilemma Fallacy: Paranormal Examples
The False Dilemma fallacy occurs when an argument offers a false range of choices and requires that you pick one of them. The range is false because there may be other, unstated choices which would only serve to undermine the original argument. If you concede to pick one of those choices, you accept the premise that those choices are indeed the only ones possible. Page 3.
False Dilemma Fallacy: Religious Examples
The False Dilemma fallacy occurs when an argument offers a false range of choices and requires that you pick one of them. The range is false because there may be other, unstated choices which would only serve to undermine the original argument. If you concede to pick one of those choices, you accept the premise that those choices are indeed the only ones possible. Page 4.
False Dilemma Fallacy: Political Examples
The False Dilemma fallacy occurs when an argument offers a false range of choices and requires that you pick one of them. The range is false because there may be other, unstated choices which would only serve to undermine the original argument. If you concede to pick one of those choices, you accept the premise that those choices are indeed the only ones possible. Page 5.
Albert Einstein: Hatred and Persecution in Religion, Religious Ideology - Why Do Religious Believers Hate, Persecute, Kill Each Other?
What did Albert Einstein think about religious hatred and persecution? According to Einstein: 'A man who is convinced of the truth of his religion is indeed never tolerant. At the least, he is to feel pity for the adherent of another religion but usually it does not stop there. The faithful adherent of a religion will try first of all to convince those that believe in another religion and usually he goes on to hatred if he is not successful.'
What is Antireligion?
Antireligion is defined as opposition to religion, religious beliefs, and religious institutions. This definition makes antireligion distinct from both atheism and theism. It's possible to be a theist who is pro- or antireligion and it's possible to be an atheist who is pro- or antireligion. Sometimes, though, the definition of antireligion is expanded to include opposition to supernatural beliefs generally; this is more compatible with atheism than with theism.
W. Somerset Maugham on Metaphysics: Finding Reasons for What We Already Believe
It has been said that metaphysics is the finding of bad reasons for what we believe on instinct.
Feminist Theology of Liberation: Fighting Patriarchal Assumptions & Attitudes Towards Women
There is no one person who can be described as responsible for the development of feminist theology. Many women as well as a few men contributed to the growth of critiques of traditional, patriarchal attitudes within Christianity and Judaism that have served to repress women and keep them in a second-class status, not only within religious institutions but in the rest of society as well.
Engel v. Vitale (1962) - Prayers in Public Schools
What authority does the government have over religious rituals like prayer? Can the government write specific prayers for public school students to recite every day?
Theology as Science and Religion: Formal, Systematic Study of Religion & Faith
As the term is generally used today, theology refers to the systematic formulation of ways to think about God, talk about a religion’s distinctive symbols or concepts, and bring it all together into a coherent system of thought. It shares much in common with both philosophy and religion, often straddling the borders between the two.
What is the Gospel According to Mark? Background of Mark's Gospel
The Gospel According to Mark is anonymous, undated, and has no direct information about the historical, social, or political context in which it was written. Because specific and direct information about where this gospel comes from is absent, scholars have had to act like detectives in order to figure out what, if anything, might be said about it with some authority.
Afflicting the Comfortable: Importance of Undermining the Status Quo
Which is better for the political and social health of a community: to tell people what they want to hear and reinforce their prejudices about themselves, or to dissent from common prejudices and reveal uncomfortable truths? Many seem to prefer the former, saying that dissenters and critics are traitors; ultimately, however, dissent is critical and necessary. One of the reasons why atheists are so unpopular is, perhaps, because they are not afraid to tell uncomfortable truths about religion.
Persuasive Definitions: Using Definitions to Persuade Others to Accept a Claim
Whenever a definition is offered for the purpose of influencing a person’s attitude or feelings towards the subject in question, we are dealing with a persuasive definition. As should be obvious from the name, the whole point is to 'persuade' rather than simply explain or clarify - for that reason, persuasive definitions often aren’t considered entirely honest because they mask what they are really doing.
What is Respect? What Does it Mean to Respect Religion or Theism?
What does it mean to 'respect' someone's religion or religious beliefs? Many religious theists insist that their religion deserves to be respected, even by non-believers, but what exactly are they asking for? If they are simply asking to be let alone in their beliefs, that's not unreasonable. If they are asking that their right to believe be honored, then I agree. The problem is, these basic minimums are rarely, if ever, what people are asking for; instead, they are asking for much more.
American Foreign Policy, Democracy, and Conservative Christianity
Some believe that the neoconservative perspective on foreign policy is, if nothing else, animated by important moral principles. This is probably one of the reasons why neoconservatives are able to make common cause with religious conservatives. Perhaps those alleged moral principles are in fact a mask being used to disguise simple, pragmatic desires that animate most of politics.
Hostility to Religion - Do Secularism & Separation Express Hostility to Religion?
One of the common arguments raised by those who object to the limitations placed upon how the government accommodates religious beliefs is that such limitations are an expression of hostility. Normally, such arguments are aimed at secularists and nonbelievers, but this masks the fact that there is another, equally important issue at hand: the search for secular justifications for religious displays leads to the secularization of religious symbols and content.
Disbelief in Gods - Disbelief in Gods vs. Denying that God Exists
Many have trouble comprehending that 'not believing X' (not believe gods exist) doesn't mean the same as 'believing not X' (believe gods do not exist). The placement of the negative is key: the first means not having the mental attitude that proposition X (gods exist) is true, the second means having the mental attitude that proposition X (gods exist) is false. The difference here is between disbelief and denial: the first is disbelief in the broad or narrow sense whereas the second is denial.
What is Freethinking?
Freethinking is defined as the process of applying reason, science, skepticism, and empiricism to questions of belief and eschewing reliance on dogma, tradition, and authority. It's important to note that this definition is about the methodology and tools one uses to arrive at beliefs, not the actual beliefs a person ends up with. This means freethinking is at least theoretically compatible with a wide range of actual beliefs.
Young Earth Creationism: Creationists Who Believe that the Earth is Young
Young Earth Creationists (YEC), the largest and most vocal group of creationists active in America, rely upon the most literal interpretation of the Bible in comparison to other forms of special creationism. At its heart, the Young Earth Creationist movement is a movement of conservative Christians. It is rare to find a Young Earth Creationist making a case either for creationism or against evolution without doing so from a deliberately religious and, usually, fundamentalist Christian position.
Divine Rights vs. Popular Sovereignty
Some argue that our rights come from the Ten Commandments, the Bible, and God. This entails advocating a divinely anointed government and a theocratic system. In such a system, we wouldn't really have any rights anymore. The only protection for our rights is to recognize that human rights are a human creation - that they are part of us, not above us.
Spiritualism and Traditional Religion - The Relationship Between Religion & Parapsychology
It is true that spiritualism presumably provided proof of the sorts of claims made by traditional Christianity for centuries, but this does not meant that Christian leaders eagerly welcomed it. Quite the contrary, actually - although a few certainly involved themselves with the spiritualist movements, this was often as a result of attempting to contact loved ones they had recently lost.
What is Ethical Culture?
The movement of Ethical Culture Societies was started by Professor Felix Adler (1851-1933) in New York City on May 15, 1876. Membership Ethical Culture Societies is open to anyone who accepts the basic doctrine that the principle aim in life is to lead an ethical life. Opinions regarding the existence of gods, where one should stand on particular moral questions (like abortion), etc. are not important among members of Ethical Culture groups.
Jus Ad Bellum and the Pursuit of War - Just War Theory
How do Just War theories expect to justify the pursuit of some wars? How can we ever conclude that some particular war may be more moral than another? Although there are some differences in the principles used, we can point to five basic ideas that address whether or not it is just to launch any particular war.
Just War Theory: Principle of Right Intention
How do Just War theories expect to justify the pursuit of some wars? One of the more fundamental principles of Just War Theory is the idea that no just war can come out of unjust intentions or methods. For a war to be judged
Just War Theory: Principle of Legitimate Authority
How do Just War theories expect to justify the pursuit of some wars? According to this principle, a war cannot be just if it has not been authorized by the proper authorities. This may seem to make more sense in a medieval setting where one feudal lord might try to wage war against another without seeking the authorization of the king, but it still has relevancy today. Page 3.
Just War Theory: Principle of Last Resort
How do Just War theories expect to justify the pursuit of some wars? The principle of Last Resort is the idea that war is awful enough that it should never be the first or even the primary option when it comes to resolving international disagreements. Although it may at times be a necessary option, it should only be chosen when all other options (diplomatic and economic) have been exhausted. Page 4.
Just War Theory: Principle of the Probability of Success
How do Just War theories expect to justify the pursuit of some wars? According to teh principle of Probability of Success, it isn't
Rules for Atheist Radicals - Ideas, Tactics for Atheist Activism, Politics - Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals Can Teach a lot to Atheist Activists
As a community organizer and political activist, Saul Alinsky played a pivotal role in the growth of grass roots organizing and activism in modern America. Saul Alinsky argued for transforming the poor and powerless from passive observers into activists with a vested interest in what happens around them. Saul Alinsky summarized his ideas into what he called the
Rules for Atheist Radicals - Ideas, Tactics for Atheist Activism, Politics - Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals Can Teach a lot to Atheist Activists
As a community organizer and political activist, Saul Alinsky played a pivotal role in the growth of grass roots organizing and activism in modern America. Saul Alinsky argued for transforming the poor and powerless from passive observers into activists with a vested interest in what happens around them. Saul Alinsky summarized his ideas into what he called the
Falsifiability: Is Parapsychology Falsifiable? Why Parapsychology is a Pseudoscience, Not a Science
Scientific theories are falsifiable and one of the characteristics of pseudoscience is that pseudoscientific theories are not falsifiable, either in principle or in fact. The principle of falsifiability or falsification was originally conceived of by Sir Karl Popper, an Austrian-born, British philosopher of science. According to Popper, it is the ability to falsify a theory that makes it scientific, not the ability to verify it.
Myth: Atheists Can't Have Close Families, Close Relationships, Without God
The idea that there is anything about atheism which would prevent a person from being close to their family is bizarre, at least initially. Perhaps even most religious theists recognize that there is something strange about this position and that's why it doesn't come up too often; yet it does appear occasionally and is representative of other misconceptions that are more common. In particular, it relates to popular assumptions about atheism being incompatible with genuine love and kindness.
Types of Truths: Arithmetical, Geometrical, Logical (Analytic), Synthetic, and Ethical Truths
Did you ever think about the fact that there are different kinds of truth? Well, there are, which means that when someone refers to a 'truth' or claims that some statement is 'true,' you need to first know what sort of truth they are talking about. That's the only way to evaluate the validity of their truth claim.
Naked Public Square: Does The Separation Of Church And State Violate Religious Freedom?
One common complaint raised about the way strict separationists read the First Amendment is that it leaves the public square 'naked,' by which it is meant that the public square is now 'bare' of religious speech. This, in turn, is believed to foster and encourage public hostility towards religion, something which is actually forbidden by the First Amendment.
How Can Atheists Respond When Others Ask for Prayers?
Many religious theists, especially Christians, will ask for people's prayers and express hopes for a miracle when they experience significant problems in their lives (such as illness and injury, for example). Other Christians will normally respond by promising to pray and actually doing so at some point, asking God for miracles and divine intervention. Atheists obviously can't give the same response because atheists don't pray at all, much less for a miracle from God. So how can atheists reply?
Jay F. Rosenberg on Suffering: Can Suffering be Requited? Can Suffering Be Made Good?
I am suspicious of the notion of unrequited suffering, in particular, of its inescapable implication that suffering can be 'requited'. Suffering is not a debit entry in some ledger, something that can be offset by an appropriate credit on another page. Suffering is intrinsic disvalue. Positive consequences may flow from it, but it cannot thereby be 'made good'.
Coming Out as an Atheist to Jehovah's Witnesses and the Watchtower Society - Why Do Jehovah's Witnesses Overreact When A Believer Leaves The Faith?
Have you ever decided to come out as an atheist to your friends and family, only to have them react with anger or outright denial? Any atheist â€” not just former Jehovah's Witnesses â€” is likely to face this after they leave their faith. Many of us hope our associates will get used to the idea, but some never do. They may use guilt, angry condemnations, or other tactics to bring us back into their religion, all while insisting that it's for our benefit. This can be as hurtful as it is confusing.
Christian Cultural Resentment - Cultural Resentment as Religious Force
Sociologists, historians, and other researchers generally recognize the complex interaction between religious doctrine and culture: each influences, changes, and reacts to the other. Religious believers tend not to understand this, though, imagining that their doctrines are independent of (if not prior to) the culture around them. This prevents them from better understanding their own beliefs â€” and if they can't understand the sources of their beliefs, they can't critically evaluate them.
Consequences of Church Tax Exemptions: No Political Campaigning
Not all churches and religious organizations have been content to live within the rules. Quite a few have attempted to evade the rules, either secretly or very openly, in order to allow churches and religious groups to participate actively in political campaigns even while retaining their charitable tax-exempt status.
Anti-Atheist Bigotry: Atheists Can't Be Singled Out in a Crowd - How Can Atheists be Subjected to Bigotry if They Can't be Identified?
Many traditional bigotries have centered around obvious physical characteristics: race, ethnicity, gender, etc. Because of this, some claim that there can't be any serious bigotry against atheists because an atheist isn't defined by any obvious physical characteristics. You can't pick an atheist out of a crowd and you don't even know someone is an atheist unless they say so. That, however, is part of the problem for atheists: their invisibility helps perpetuate myths and suspicion about them.
Barack Obama on Secularism: Does Barack Obama Believe in a Secular Government? Obama Expresses Both Pro-Secular and Anti-Secular Ideas in Speeches
Barack Obama's real opinions about secularism are either confused or simply unknown â€” he has expressed both sentiments which can be construed as pro-secularist and sentiments which can be construed as anti-secularist. These contradictions might charitably be interpreted as typical political posturing: telling everyone what they want to hear in order to avoid offending anyone. On the other hand, maybe he himself is sincerely confused due to conflicting impulses.
Adolf Hitler on Faith: Quotes from Adolf Hitler on the Need for Religious Faith - Adolf Hitler Believed in the Need of Religious Faith for Morality
If Adolf Hitler's political and social policies were a product of atheism and secularism, why did he consistently say that religious faith was necessary for morality? Why did Hitler insist that faith is one of the most important things in life? Adolf Hitler's own words make it clear that he was convinced of the importance and necessity of religious faith - not at all unlike the conviction of conservative Christians today.
Godless Morality & Ethics: Being Good Without Gods or Religion is Possible and Preferable
Can there be a godless morality? Can we assert a superiority for a godless morality over traditional, theistic, and religious morality? Yes, I think that this is possible. Unfortunately, few people even acknowledge the existence of godless moral values, much less their significance. When people talk about moral values, they almost always presume that they have to be talking about religious morality and religious values. The very possibility of godless, irreligious morality is ignored.
Why is there Bigotry, Prejudice Against Atheists? Where Does Anti-Atheist Animus Come From?
Bigotry and prejudice against atheists is widespread in the United States. A wide variety of reasons are cited for these anti-atheist attitudes in America, but the one thing they almost all have in common is the fact that they are false: people justify their animus towards atheists by saying things about atheists that simply aren't true. Atheists are thus hated based on what people imagine about them, not based on anything about atheism itself. This makes atheists the new American scapegoats.