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Monthly Archive: May 2010

May 31 2010

God is everywhere

(Since today is the Memorial Day holiday, I am taking a break and doing a repost.) There is a famous and funny old sketch called the Five Minute University in which comedian Don Novello acts in his character of Father Guido Sarducci. As he says, when students study theology at his university, all they will …

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May 28 2010

The internet and religious taboos

One of the great strengths of the internet is that it allows broad-based actions and thus can undermine hierarchical control of messages. It has become very easy for like-minded people all over the world to quickly connect up and act in concert in support of any particular cause. Furthermore the considerable anonymity afforded by the …

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May 27 2010

Religion and evidence-7: Uniqueness and the problem of induction

(For the complete series of posts on religion and evidence, see here.) In the previous post, I argued that under the rules of logic, existence claims placed the burden of proof on the person making the claim to provide evidence in support of it, while universal claims required the person disputing it to provide evidence. …

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May 26 2010

Religion and evidence-6: Is it unscientific to reject miraculous claims?

It is undoubtedly true that what may be considered a miracle at one time may not be thought so later as science advances. In fact the steady replacement of the miraculous and the inexplicable with the natural and scientific has been the recurring pattern of history. This pattern has been so influential in shaping the …

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May 25 2010

Religion and evidence-5: Miracles without god?

Jacalyn Duffin, author of the book Medical Miracles (2009), has an interesting professional history. A hematologist by training, she was asked in 1986 to analyze blood samples taken eight years previously from someone whose name and medical history were kept from her. Under her microscope she found all the signs of a kind of leukemia …

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May 24 2010

Religion and evidence-4: Incorruptibility of the bodies of saints

The existence of bodies which allegedly do not undergo decay after death (i.e. ‘incorruptible bodies‘) was something I was made aware of only a few months ago but is apparently fairly well known in the religious community, especially among Catholics, and is taken as a miraculous sign from god. The Catholic Church used to make …

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May 21 2010

Religion and evidence-3: Evidence-based belief

One of the interesting things about letting people know that you are an atheist is that you learn quite a lot of new stuff from religious people who try to persuade you that there is more to this life than a material world that runs according to scientific laws that are either known or yet …

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May 20 2010

Religion and evidence-2: Belief in belief

In their study of people’s religious beliefs, Michael Shermer and Frank Sulloway identified the seven strongest predictors in favor of belief in god: being raised in a religious manner parents’ religiosity lower levels of education being female a large family lack of conflict with parents being younger Four of the factors that favor being religious …

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May 19 2010

Religion and evidence-1: Why people believe

The main reason that atheists deny that god exists is because there is no credible evidence for him/her/it. In trying to meet this challenge, religious people tend to split two ways, those who accept the need for evidence and those who think evidence is unnecessary for belief. Ordinary religious believers tend to say that yes, …

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May 18 2010

What does the Bible say about suicide?

Given that many religious people think that the life they will have after death will be so much better than the life they have now, this raises the problem of why they don’t simply commit suicide or why they seek medical treatment for illnesses instead of seeing life-threatening diseases as signs that god want them …

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