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Monthly Archive: February 2009

Feb 13 2009

Religious faith versus scientific commitment to certainty

All religions depend on a particular kind of faith, the belief in something in the absence of, and in fact counter to, credible evidence for its existence. Such an effort necessarily involves the suppression of doubt. When a person of one religion encounters someone from another, it is relatively easy to think that yours is …

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Feb 12 2009

Darwin’s religious legacy: Neutral or anti-god?

Today is the 200th birth anniversary of Charles Darwin, arguably the scientist whose work has had the greatest impact on human thought. This major anniversary comes at a time when religious groups, sensing the very real danger that his theory of evolution by natural selection poses to all religious beliefs, are trying to either discredit …

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Feb 11 2009

The social appeal of agnosticism

In yesterday’s post I tried to understand what makes agnosticism different from atheism from agnosticism in any logical or observable way, and did not have much luck, but there were some very interesting responses in the comments. I suspect that one reason that some nonbelievers find agnosticism appealing is that it is more socially acceptable …

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Feb 10 2009

The puzzle of agnosticism

I must admit that I find agnosticism puzzling. For me, agnosticism is harder to understand than atheism or religious belief. There is no doubt that religious people find agnosticism easier to deal with than atheism. You can see it in the way that those religious people who can get beyond the emotional reactions to atheism …

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Feb 09 2009

Atheism going mainstream?

At one point in his inaugural address, Barack Obama started using familiar language in calling for national unity, saying “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus,” but the ears of atheists everywhere perked up when he added at the end “and non-believers.” Could this, along with the most recent Pew survey …

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Feb 06 2009

Changing people’s minds

The post dealing with starting the Year of Reason resulted in a very lively discussion, generating nearly forty comments. I took part in the discussion far more actively than I usually do. While I often respond to comments, especially if there is a request for specific information or a clarification, I tend not to get …

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Feb 05 2009

Good atheist/bad atheist

As regular readers will have noted, I have kept hammering at the idea that the claim that god exists is an existence statement and that to assert the truth of an existence statement without credible evidence in support of it is irrational, and that the rational and scientific approach in the absence of any counter-evidence …

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Feb 04 2009

No more Mr. Nice Physicist

In my recent post on the need to stop giving the ‘benefit of clergy’, I argued that we should not allow the notion of ‘respect for religion’ to be used as a shield to protect religious ideas from the scrutiny that any idea should deserve. For example, I suspect that some atheists, even when the …

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Feb 03 2009

Not letting bygones be bygones

In two earlier posts (here and here), I spoke about some of the ways that political chameleons adjust their views when the environment changes so that they can continue to be in the corridors of power. Another tactic of political chameleons is to try to get others to forget their role as cheerleaders of disastrous …

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Feb 02 2009

Relative and absolute loss

Change is difficult to deal with, especially if it is a change for the worse in one’s financial status. Losing one’s job and being forced to accept a lower paying one or having to lower one’s lifestyle is not easy to accept, irrespective of what one’s initial and final level of living was. In the …

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