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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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Hateful propaganda sparks concern for Baha’is of Rafsanjan

Hateful propaganda sparks concern for Baha’is of Rafsanjan

NEW YORK, 16 December 2014, (BWNS) — Against the backdrop of increasing economic pressures, a recent anti-Baha’i demonstration and a hateful speech delivered by a cleric have raised concerns for the safety of the Baha’is of Rafsanjan, a city in Iran. Hojatoleslam Abbas Ramezani-Pour, the Friday prayer Imam of Rafsanjan, declared in a speech at the end of November that, according to religious fatwas, Baha’is are “unclean” and that it is “forbidden” to conduct business and trade with them. “The…

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My Friend Mycroft, Part Two: Science as Savior

My Friend Mycroft, Part Two: Science as Savior

Echoing anti-theist spokesman Sam Harris, my forum friend Mycroft remarked that: “… a whole branch of science is devoted to the biological and societal reasons for human conditions, the balance of selfishness and altruism, greed and reciprocal behavior, dogma and tolerance, etc.” This is so. There is, indeed, a branch of science dedicated to finding a biological explanation for everything we are and do. Sam Harris has a PhD in this discipline. But the observation begs the question: In what way…

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My Friend Mycroft, Part One: Spiritual Exploration

My Friend Mycroft, Part One: Spiritual Exploration

Once upon a time, I had a forum friend who called himself Mycroft (a reference to Sherlock’s allegedly smarter older brother). He was an atheist (still is as far as I know) and we spent pleasurable hours discussing belief, certitude, faith, reason and other subjects of interest to both of us. Well, at least I found the discourse pleasurable. I’m pretty sure Mycroft found it frustrating at times because I refused to “color inside the lines” of religion that he…

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Part 4 of Religion – the Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Part 4 of Religion – the Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

No Faith is Final — Religious Claims to Absolute Truth When a religion claims to have access to the absolute truth, religious scholar and writer Dr. Charles Kimball explains, those rigid truth claims can form the basis for demonizing and dehumanizing those who differ: A human view of truth, one that is dynamic and relational, enables religious people to embrace and affirm foundational truths without necessarily solidifying the words into static, absolute, propositional statements.  Conversely, religious convictions that become locked…

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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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Part 1 of Religion — The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Part 1 of Religion — The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Editorial note: We’d like to welcome guest blogger David Langness and his nine part series that takes a look as religion’s rap as the most harmful agency on the planet. David is the host of Bahaiteachings.org and is a member of the Bahá’í community in my old stomping ground up in Nevada County, California. So, without further ado … take it, David! oOo My friend the historian and I had a long discussion about religion the other day.  When he…

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Intelligence Squared 6: Evolutionary Programming & the “Need” for God

Intelligence Squared 6: Evolutionary Programming & the “Need” for God

The setting for the conversation is an Intelligence Squared debate in which we have two teams: Team A, composed of physicist Lawrence Krauss and writer Michael Shermer, arguing the motion that “science refutes God” and Team B, composed of political commentator Dinesh D’Souza and physicist Ian Hutchinson, arguing against the motion. During his promotion of the proposition that science refutes God, Lawrence Krauss made the following remark: Human beings were clearly programmed by evolution to impute intentionality to the world…

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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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