Lulu is right

I read a very fun item yesterday, thanks to a reader who sent me the link. It’s on a site called, with disarming simplicity, Atheism is False. It has a long list of names under the title “Answering Critics”; I look forward to reading each one, because they should be entertaining. “Answering Critics” is an oddly misleading title, since it implies that each item actually answers critics when in fact, judging by the one I’ve read so far, each item disagrees with people who wrote something that has nothing to do with Atheism is False or its author, David Reuben Stone. The one I’ve read so far is about Me, and my essay in 50 Voices of Disbelief. It’s not very convincing.

Benson’s brief discussion is misplaced from the very beginning.  Benson claims that the definition of “God” includes the belief that God is a supernatural being about whom no one knows anything (p. 23). [Read more...]

If they retain their appearance

And another thing. This transubstantiation nonsense – another thing about it is that it’s a teaching.

Transubstantiation is the teaching that during the Mass, at the consecration in the Lord’s Supper (Communion), the elements of the Eucharist, bread and wine, are transformed into the actual body and blood of Jesus and that they are no longer bread and wine, but only retain their appearance of bread and wine.

What I wonder is, how do they know the teaching is right? If the bread and wine retain their appearance then who actually knows that they are in fact the actual body and blood of Jesus, and how do those people know it?

I don’t see how there can be any way to know that. Clearly “retain their appearance” means “all the way down,” so that there is no instrument or process by which anyone can demonstrate that aha at this level we can observe that the bread and wine are in fact the actual body and blood of Jesus. Is there? (Did I miss something?) So…well, how can anyone have anything but doubts on the subject? What causes Odone to hold the “belief” that transubstantiation gets something right and that her beliefs on this subject are better than those of her husband the Anglican?

Just wondering.

Many people of faith are filled with doubts

An amusing passage in the conversation between Dawkins and Odone in the Guardian:

CO: I’m a Catholic and my husband is an Anglican, and transubstantiation is an issue between us. Do I want my daughter to take up my Catholic beliefs? Yes I do. Do I believe my beliefs are superior in any way to his? Yes I do. But do I want to teach her that mine is the only way? No I don’t. What I want her to feel is that there are some beautiful principles in all religions. In your new book you say scientists cheerfully admit they don’t know, “cheerfully” because not knowing the answer is exciting. What’s so funny is that I feel about religion in the same way. You musn’t think that religion is stuck in its inquisitorial phase; religion is capable of evolution and many people of faith are filled with doubts. [Read more...]