Dang! We were this close to proof of heaven

People often ask atheists what it would take for them to believe in the existence of god. I for one can think of an infinite number of things that would persuade me that god exists. When asked I say that if god commandeered all the TV stations in the world to announce that at a particular time the next day s/he would appear in the sky simultaneously all over the world to be seen and heard by everyone and that it indeed happened as promised, that would be pretty conclusive.
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How the Biblical myths came about

Many of us nonreligious people know that pretty much all of the stuff in the Bible are myths that have very little historical foundation, except on the few occasions when it makes contact with events that have independent corroboration and these occur much later in the narrative, beginning with the Assyrian conquest. Independent scholarship in the fields of archeology and other areas have found scant evidence to support the early and foundational stories of Abraham, Moses, the exodus, and the like.
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The sincerity of religious beliefs and doctrines

Over the weekend I attended a very interesting talk on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) by Nicholas Little who is the Legal Director for the Center for Inquiry. He reminded us that RFRA was originally meant to provide legal protection for minority religious practices but is now being used by majority religions to gain privileges and discriminate against others and has become the main vehicle for people to argue against the Affordable Care Act. He said that while courts are required to give deference to the religious beliefs of people because of RFRA, the closely related Religious Land Use And Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), and the Free Exercise of religion clause of the First Amendment, this poses a problem with people who try to use that to get special privileges.
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Why isn’t Sanders’s run for the presidency being hailed as historic?

On February 9, Bernie Sanders broke through a significant barrier in US political history.

“Bernie Sanders made history on Tuesday night as he became the first Jewish-American to win a presidential primary.

The milestone falls just eight days after Ted Cruz became the first Hispanic-American to win a presidential nominating contest with his win in the Iowa Caucuses.

Sanders is not the first Jewish-American to run for president. Both former Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter and former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman mounted unsuccessful campaigns for the White House in 1996 and 2004, respectively. Further, the Republican nominee for president in 1964, Barry Goldwater, was of Jewish descent but was a practicing Episcopalian.

But Sanders is the first Jewish-American candidate, not to mention the first non-Christian candidate of any denomination, to win a state in a presidential primary.”

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Report on the interfaith panel

Yesterday’s interfaith panel held at my university was interesting. The Hindu was a no-show so the first part began with the other three panelists (the Protestant campus chaplain, a Jewish rabbi, and a Muslim imam, who was the same person from Thursday’s session) each giving 15 minutes presentations. The Protestant chaplain was a minister in the United Church of Christ. This is one of the most socially enlightened and progressive of Christian denominations.
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More inter-religious dialogue!

Tomorrow (Saturday), a student group at CWRU will be hosting an inter-religious program at the Tinkham Veale University Center Ballroom, followed by a panel discussion. The first part from 5:00-6:00 pm consists of some kind of inter-religious celebration led by people from Protestant, Jewish, Islamic, and Hindu traditions and includes a dinner. From 6:00-7:00 pm, the campus Catholic chaplain and I will join those four for the panel discussion
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