Prayer allowed at school board meetings

When the US Supreme Court, in the case of Greece v. Galloway in 2013, issued a somewhat incoherent and confusing opinion that opening prayers could be allowed at the opening of town council meetings under certain conditions, many of us felt that this would be the thin edge of the wedge that would be used by religious public officials to increasingly introduce religion into the public square. And so it is proving. On March 20th, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a US District Court judge’s ruling that, following that Greece precedent, a Texas school board could also start its meetings with prayer, saying that the Galloway case set a new precedent.
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Film review: The Brand New Testament (2015)

As we all know, the big theological problem that theologians try to explain away but never succeed is that of theodicy, why a loving god would allow so much evil in the world. Well, this French film, one of the most wildly imaginative comedies I have seen in a good while, answers that question. God turns out to be a real bastard who enjoys deliberately creating wars and setting people against each other. But he is even more wicked than some of us imagined. He actually creates all the laws that really annoy people, such as the phone ringing just when you start to enjoy a bath, the line next to you moving faster in the supermarket, and the bread with the jam side falling on the floor.
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Once again, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins do NOT speak for the atheist movement

I have written before about how broad social, political, and religious movements on the edge of social acceptance should not be closely identified with a few individuals because those supposed spokespersons often have additional baggage that is harmful to those movements. Stephen LeDrew, author of The Evolution of Atheism: The Politics of a Modern Movement warns that some prominent atheists like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and the late Christopher Hitchens have, with their neoconservative political leanings, aided the rising intolerance represented by people like Donald Trump and that it is important that atheists not allow such people to be perceived as spokespersons for the broader atheist community.
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Things are looking up for atheists

A recent survey by the Pew finds that feelings towards atheists and Muslims are getting warmer, with younger people leading the way.

While Americans still feel coolest toward Muslims and atheists, mean ratings for these two groups increased from a somewhat chilly 40 and 41 degrees, respectively, to more neutral ratings of 48 and 50.

However, the mean ratings given to particular religious groups still vary widely depending on who is being asked. For example, young adults – those ages 18 to 29 – express warmer feelings toward Muslims than older Americans do. Moreover, young adults rate all of the groups in the study within a relatively tight range, from 54 degrees for Mormons to 66 for Buddhists. By contrast, older Americans (ages 65 and older) rate some religious groups, such as mainline Protestants (75) and Jews (74), very warmly, and others, such as Muslims and atheists (44 degrees each), much more coolly.

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How Adam and Eve killed the dinosaurs – updated

In my recent reviews of the rise and fall of the Intelligent Design (ID) movement (see here and here), I mentioned that the IDers were not young Earth creationists. They accepted almost all of the scientific conclusions regarding the age of the Earth and evolution. What they wanted was to overthrow the idea of both methodological and philosophical (or metaphysical) naturalism that they felt undermined the basis for belief in god.
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How Intelligent Design went agley

As I said in my post yesterday that looked at the moribund state of the ID movement these days, there was always a deep-rooted tension between the Intelligent Design (ID) group and young Earth creationists. The ID people were playing a long game. Their goal was to overthrow the principle of naturalism that governed scientific practice and which they felt ruled out any role for god. As I have said before, naturalism can be divided into methodological naturalism in which you look for natural causes and explanations for any phenomena, and philosophical naturalism, the idea that the material world governed by natural laws is all there is and thus a priori rules out any possibility of any kind of supernatural phenomena.
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What happened to the Intelligent Design movement?

When the Intelligent Design movement started there were four key players. The founder was a professor of law at Berkeley named Phillip Johnson who cast a legal eye at the evidence on favor of evolution and wrote a book Darwin on Trial that argued that the case for evolution had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. He was the brains behind the so-called ‘Wedge Strategy’ that sought to undermine naturalism, staring by gradually undermining the idea that methodological naturalism was an integral part of science.
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Categorizing the ‘nones’ and why their numbers are rising

The rise in the number of people who self-identify as not being affiliated with any religion, popularly referred to as ‘nones’, is now a well-reported story. Richard Flory has been researching this phenomenon and has written an article based on his findings and says that the reasons for the rise are more complex than just the increasing secularization of society.
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Escaping from evangelical hell

Maggie Rowe has written a memoir Sin Bravely: My Great Escape From Evangelical Hell that describes how she managed to break free of the shackles that bound her to the evangelical movement. In this interview, she discusses her obsessive worrying about going to hell and her search, while still a believer, for a therapist who could soothe her fears within the framework in which hell remained a reality. She search took her to a place called Grace Point Evangelical Psychiatric Institute
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