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My Friend Mycroft, Part Three: Mycroft on Religion

My Friend Mycroft, Part Three: Mycroft on Religion

Having discussed the role of science in the life of humanity, my atheist forum friend Mycroft turned to the subject of religion. The points of view were thus: Mycroft=science is a savior; Me=science is a tool for the exploration of reality Mycroft wrote: “The major organized belief systems are incoherent. Half of mosaic, christian, and muslim theology over the last millennia is devoted to the task of belatedly producing some kind of consistency—often by declaring something impossible a “mystery”, or adding afterthoughts.”…

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Faith and Freedom

Faith and Freedom

Unlike our animal cousins, human beings’ behavior is less affected by instinct than it is by observation, nurture, experience and guided learning. We live in complex relationships that form an even more complex society. Existing in that society requires that we learn the skills necessary to that existence. As children, we require the guidance of parents, teachers and a body of knowledge about ourselves and our world. That guidance must originate somewhere—especially in areas where the effects of blindly following…

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Part 6 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Part 6 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

The Ideal Time for Religious Triumph The idea of triumphalism – that any particular religion will one day prevail, dispatch the “heretics” and conquer the world – has plagued humanity for centuries.  In his book When Religion Becomes Evil, Dr. Charles Kimball explores the concept of triumphalism, in which some faith groups see the ideal time for their certain triumph as inevitable and desirable: Some religious communities place a great deal of emphasis on a this-worldly hope…. When the hoped-for…

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Part 3 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Part 3 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

When Religion Itself Becomes Evil The well-known religious scholar and chair of the department of religion at Wake Forest University, Charles Kimball, published a landmark book a few years ago, called When Religion Becomes Evil.  Dr. Kimball doesn’t dislike faith, and he is no atheist – in fact, he’s an ordained Baptist minister – but the book describes what he sees, after a lifetime of research, as the five warning signs of corruption in religion: Claims to absolute truth Requirements…

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The Spirit of Science #2: Russell, Reason and Intuition

The Spirit of Science #2: Russell, Reason and Intuition

Of the reality or unreality of the mystic’s world I know nothing. I have no wish to deny it, nor even to declare that the insight which reveals it is not a genuine insight. What I do wish to maintain—and it is here that the scientific attitude becomes imperative—is that insight, untested and unsupported, is an insufficient guarantee of truth, in spite of the fact that much of the most important truth is first suggested by its means. It is common…

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The Scientific Spirit #1: Bertrand Russell & Mysticism

The Scientific Spirit #1: Bertrand Russell & Mysticism

Ways of Knowing I meant to blog about Ian Hutchinson’s book Monopolizing Knowledge, in which he explores the proposition that science is the only valid tool for acquiring knowledge and knowing what is worth knowing about ourselves and our world. Somehow, in the process of researching the article, I found my thoughts about the subject widening to include other sources. Ultimately, what I want to consider in this article is the core question: What is the nature of scientific thought as a…

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Crusades, Crusaders and Common Ground

Crusades, Crusaders and Common Ground

  As with many of my blog posts, this one grew out of a conversation that I had with someone about the subject of faith and reason. In this case, I raised the point that I felt many of the anti-theists of my acquaintance had noble goals (promoting reason and fighting ignorance) but were fighting the wrong enemy and doing it in a way that furthered neither of those goals. That were, in fact, counterproductive. I called into question the…

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Rules of Various Metals Part 2: Passing the Demon Buck

Rules of Various Metals Part 2: Passing the Demon Buck

Last time I posed a question about what exactly we (believers and non-believers alike) are professing when we claim adherence to the Golden Rule: “do to others as you would have them do to you.” In that context, I’d like to examine the reasonableness of the assumption that because some believers consign non-believers to Hell (whatever they imagine that to be) ALL believers do so. This is an assumption that arises frequently in my dialogues with self-identifying atheists (or anti-theists…

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Why Religion 8: Will Wonders Never Cease

Why Religion 8: Will Wonders Never Cease

Some secular thinkers have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how to convince religious people that science is more awe-inspiring than God or faith. Why aren’t we capable of appreciating the awesomeness of the Universe, they wonder? Is it the manmade ritual and imaginary miracles that we find exciting? This was actually a subject of discussion at the Beyond Belief Conference as early as 2006. A group of conference participants debated if perhaps they ought to…

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Why Religion 6: God of the Month Club

Why Religion 6: God of the Month Club

Some folks suppose that religion is, to all (or at least most) religionists, a social club, or a means of maintaining social status. Intelligent politicians and clergymen (yes, some will complain those are oxymorons) are especially suspected of not really believing, but only claiming to believe for the sake of political position. I’ve read numerous claims on atheist blogs that since President Obama is obviously an intelligent man, he must be a closet atheist. The same is said of such…

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