Evidence for ‘Miracles’: Does a ‘Cold-Case’ Approach Redeem the Gospel Accounts?
Examining the gospels like cold-case evidence is as absurd as it is unreliable.
The Right to Believe
“What we believe affects others, and how we affect others goes to the core of morality.”
“Jehovah’s Witnesses say that any day now, Jesus will descend from heaven with an army of angels to clash with Satan and an army of demons in the long-foreseen Battle of Armageddon.”
Angel Unaware: An Atheist’s Perspective on Child Suffering
When I retired to Arizona in 2008, I never imagined—given its proximity to very liberal California and its distance from the prototypical “South”—that I would be living in the heart of the Southwest Bible Belt. But that is where I, an atheist, took up residence and began my postretirement career. As I am hardly one …
Faith Ideology, and the Seeds of Moral Derangement
“Why should Muslims part with their cherished convictions if Christians won’t part with theirs?”
In the popularity of fundamentalism, we may be witnessing the same reaction to science that befell traditional, entrenched religion throughout American history.
C. S. Lewis: How the Atheist Academic Became the Lion of Christianity
For believers, C. S. Lewis proves that a Christian commitment is intellectually defensible. But it turns out there is precious little that is intellectual about Lewis’s own journey to Christian belief.
When Atheists Mourn: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Chemistry
The atheist’s understanding of death is only enriched by understanding the neurochemistry of attachment, loss, and mourning.
Teaching the Gospel of Evolution
“A significant number of . . . students have been brought up to dismiss evolution and thus reject the main tenet of my discipline, biochemistry.”
Undermining Democracy and Protecting Religion
As Pakistan’s administration and social institutions have teetered toward collapse along its northwest border, extremists—and the Pakistani public—have encouraged the government to limit religious freedom and move away from secularism.
Twenty Christian Questions
So you think you know your Gospels? Test your mettle with this multiple-choice quiz (answers appear on page 54): 1. What year was Jesus born? A. 4 BCE, when Herod the Great ruled over Judea B. 6 CE, wh en Cyrenius (or Quirinius) was governor of the province of Syria 2. Was Jesus born …
Watching Intelligent Design
How does that creationist parable go—when one finds a watch, one assumes a watchmaker? Actually, Japanese-designed robots built by other robots might be more typical watchmakers today, but watches are a product of intelligent design and are often used as an example of such by creationists in their beloved—and deeply misleading—analogy. In fact, watches are …
Snip the Snip
Picture the moment of gorgeous relief when labor is finally over and your doctor hands you your healthy baby boy. He has everything in the right place: ten, ten, two, and one. Then imagine that the doctor asks if you’d like to have one of your son’s pinky fingers removed. Confused, you ask why anyone …
Atheism and Religious Pluralism: Navigating Between Freedom of and Freedom from Religion
What happens to atheism in a liberal democracy when religious beliefs are respected? And more important, how can atheism show its respect for the right to believe as one wishes while considering such beliefs contemptible? Much work done on religious pluralism elevates religion to a place of sanctity and often confuses the right to believe …
“I’m Not Religious, but I Am Spiritual”
Recent surveys have shown that the number of Americans who describe themselves as having no religion has grown in recent years. To the secular community, this would appear to be welcome news; however, we shouldn’t necessarily interpret it as a rush to the secular exits by religious Americans. Many of those who profess to be …
The Vital Spark
As he performed the autopsy, Edward Curtis removed Abraham Lincoln’s brain. “We proceeded to remove the entire brain, when, as I was lifting the latter from the cavity of the skull, suddenly the bullet dropped out through my fingers and fell, breaking the solemn silence of the room with its clatter, into an empty basin …
Descansos: Religion and Roadside Memorials
In my home state of New Mexico, most people are familiar with descansos, roadside memorials that dot the roads and highways. The word descanso comes from the Spanish word meaning “to rest” (as in a resting place, either a final one for a deceased person or a temporary one for pallbearers making their way to …
Agnosticism, Thomas Henry Huxley’s venerable coinage from Victorian England, has fallen on hard times. Over a century has passed since Huxley did battle with what he called the “ecclesiasticism” of his time, and the term he used to describe the process by which belief should be judged has suffered from widespread misunderstanding and debasement. Suspecting …
While strolling on the boardwalk during a vacation in Wildwood, New Jersey, my family was approached by a well-dressed man with a charming smile who was carrying a Bible. When he tried sharing his beliefs about the glory of God, I just shook my head and walked on. But my friendly wife, with our young …
Protestant Diploma Mills
In the eighteen years that I have worked in higher education, including ten years as an academic program evaluator, I have never encountered a Catholic diploma mill. Well, I do know of one literally Byzantine e ntity in Minnesota, but broadly speaking, all bottom-feeder unaccredited colleges that issue substandard religious degrees are Protestant. They are …
Getting a Big Head about Evolution
During a brief stint blogging about weather, climate, and meteorology, I had occasion to use the phrase “bipedal primate” to refer to those particular hairless hominids who by definition should have the requisite cranial stuffing to make sense of those words. In response, an angry patron wrote me a brief email, “Keep the religion of …
The Problem of Prayer
In religious philosophy the problem of evil and pain, called “theodicy,” arises from the tension between several mandatory yet apparently mutually exclusive propositions: 1. God is good. 2. God is all-powerful (almighty). 3. Evil and pain exist. There can be no doubting the fact of the third point, and the first two have been fundamental …