Some of you may have heard that the Pope made a special visit to Kim Davis during his recent trip to the US—which apparently you weren’t supposed to do, or at least the Vatican is somewhat chagrined that you did. By way of damage control, they’ve released a special statement announcing that the Pope’s visit to Davis should not be seen as indicating that he supports her. They also announced this morning that they’re kicking out a senior priest because he publicly admits being gay.

So just to clarify the Vatican’s press release, the Pope absolutely does support Davis. They just don’t want people to see it.

Proving Santa

There’s a quote you may have heard that goes something like this: “If you understand why you reject all the other gods, you’ll understand why I reject your God.” It sounds good, but there’s a problem. As soon as you say that to an actual believer, they are likely to inform you that they reject all the other gods because the Real God™ told them the others were false. What was not derived by reason and evidence cannot be refuted by reason and evidence.

With that in mind, I’d like to propose a new game that might have a better chance of achieving the same goal. It’s called “Proving Santa,” and I think it has a better shot at giving believers a chance to experience what it’s really like to be a skeptic in a religious debate.

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Four Spiritual Laws for Imaginary Gods

If you’ve got an idea in your head, and you want to know what’s wrong with it, write it down and publish it—you’ll immediately see all kinds of things wrong with it, and your audience will kindly help you too. (Seriously, they will, and you should listen.)

I’m not satisfied with my “Three Laws of Imaginary Gods.” For one thing, I’ve taken what is basically a single principle and stated it in two separate laws, and I’ve made repeated use of another principle that doesn’t even have its own law, even though it appears in the others. And if that’s not enough, I’ve thought of another law or two which really deserves their own entries. So with that in mind, and with a hat tip to Campus Crusade for Christ (or “Crude,” or “Grue,” or whatever they’re calling themselves these days), I’d like to introduce the Four Spiritual Laws of Imaginary Gods.

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The Three Laws of Imaginary Gods

This has been rattling around in my head for a while, so I thought I’d write it down. It’s the Three Laws of Imaginary Gods. I’ll put the laws below the fold, but what’s interesting about them is that all gods obey them. You can believe that one or more of these gods might be real, and you can imagine all sorts of perfectly logical reasons why they might want to obey the Three Laws voluntarily, but the fact remains that you will never see any of these gods disobey any of these laws. And that’s interesting, don’t you think?

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“Politics without God, heaven without hell”

Here’s an interesting meme floating around Facebook right now. It’s a quote from 1902 by William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army.

The chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.

The accompanying comments say “It’s a sobering word with warning still relevant for today” and “Was he accurate or what?”

Yeah, if it’s one thing the world saw in the 1900’s, it was politics without God and heaven without hell. Ironically, this was posted by “Church of God,” and while I’m not sure which Church of God, there’s a major Pentecostal denomination by that name. That’s “Pentecostal” as in the “Spirit-filled” Pentecostal revival that began about two decades after Booth warned about the rise of “religion without the Holy Ghost.” And Christianity without Christ? Really?

He did get one thing right. There is no salvation without regeneration. Of course, there’s no salvation with regeneration either, since regeneration is as big a myth as the hell we’re supposed to be saved from and the savior who’s supposed to do it. But oh well.

The opposite of separation

If you want a cautionary tale of why it’s important to maintain a separation of church and state, look no farther than the Republican party today. Once they were liberal (no, really, they started out as liberals), and for a very long time they were secular. But then they decided, as a political move, to abandon separation of church and state, and embrace its opposite. I’m not entirely sure what the opposite of “separation” is—the phrase “incest of church and state” comes to mind—but they embraced it. And now look at them: paralyzed by internal divisions and bickering by leaders whose vision ranges from the intransigent to the hallucinatory, always sliding deeper and deeper into an agenda that none dare call fascist, promising “security” in exchange for liberty, and delivering neither.

And they want to make America Republican. Think about that.

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Just this

It’s funny, but one of the best sources for evidence against Christianity is often believers themselves. And I’m not talking about ordinary garden-variety hypocrisy either. I mean arguments and tactics that make it entirely plausible to conclude that Christians are making the whole thing up, even intentionally so, yet somehow without admitting to themselves that this is what they are doing. If you can bear with me for one last paragraph from Ben’s comments, I think I have a sterling example.

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The coming Gaypocalypse

Ed Brayton has been documenting the rising hysteria and apocalyptic paranoia of the Christian right in connection with the Supreme Courts upcoming ruling on gay marriage. If the Court legalizes same-sex marriage, they warn, we can expect wars! and diseases! and the end of families! and of law! and of civilization! and so on and so on, with lots of extra exclamation points.

I have some sympathy for believers. I think legalizing gay marriage will be just as devastating for Christianity as these groups are predicting. Not because any of their predictions will come true, but because they won’t.

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A macabre digression

I think a good blog post should have a single main topic, and should stick to it, but today I’m going to break that rule rather badly. This post is going to be mostly about Ben’s most-recently-published comment, but at a certain point I am going to digress by bringing up a rather grim and horrific possibility that accounts for the empty tomb in a way I haven’t heard before. I may end up derailing my own conversation with Ben, but I can’t help it. This one is just too fascinating to pass up.

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