Thin versus thick theism

When writing about religion, I encounter a problem in describing the various forms of it. One form consists of that favored by theologians and sophisticated religious apologists who move in academic circles where they encounter deep critiques of religion. They usually speak in abstract terms about god, as a first cause, a prime mover, and so on. They do not anthropomorphize god by ascribing human passions and qualities to their deity. The second type of description is by those who see god as much like a human except that their deity also possesses superhuman attributes and is perfect in every way. Their deity intervenes in the world in response to prayers and can override the laws of nature in order to do so.
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Mother Theresa becomes a saint. So what?

Pope Francis has just taken the final step making Mother Theresa a saint. Her record is at best mixed. On the positive side she did take in the sick and dying from the streets of Calcutta and provided them with some minimal care. On the negative side, in order to raise money for her work, she hobnobbed with some of the worst people in the world like the Duvaliers in Haiti and praised them, thus providing them with cover for their misdeeds. She also was an implacable foe of contraception and abortion and seemed to have this bizarre love for suffering for its own sake, seeing it as somehow ennobling and bringing you closer to god. As one critic said, she was not a friend of the poor so much as a friend of poverty.
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Resurgence of polio

We have come really close to eradicating the deadly disease of polio and so any setbacks have to be viewed with concern. NPR’s Jason Beaubien, who has been doing some excellent reporting on health issues in Africa, says that the recent discovery of two new cases in the northeast of Nigeria (near the border with Chad) has health experts worried because that country had gone for two years without any cases and was on track to be next country to be declared polio-free.
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When bad things happen to bad people

Readers may have heard that Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, was one of those people whose homes were flooded by the torrential rains that fell on Louisiana and flooded parts of Baton Rouge and other areas. The FRC is one of those evangelical organizations that have an anti-LGBT mission, though like many Christian groups, they claim to “love the sinner and hate the sin”.
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French High Court overturns burkini ban

The French government has come under widespread ridicule for its burkini ban and commenter deepak shetty added a link to the various reactions around the globe. Meanwhile According to Newsweek:

France’s highest court has suspended a ban on the “burkini” in the town of Villeneuve-Loubet, in a decision likely to lead to the overturn of 30 more such bans in towns across France.

The Council of State judgment said that the ban had breached “fundamental freedoms.”

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French ban on burkinis

Whenever I see people limit themselves in what they can wear or what they can eat or do because of their religious beliefs, it bothers me as a sign of the hold that religions have on people but I would not seek to prevent them from acting in that way. Hence the new French laws that bans women from wearing the ‘burkini’, a full-body swimsuit garment as seen in this photo that covers them up when they are at the beach, seems to me to be wrong.

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Exaggerating church attendance

Today is Sunday when good Christians should be going to church. But while many do, more of them say they will be going while choosing to stay at home. A new report issued by the Public Religion Research Institute confirms something that has long been suspected, that people in the US tend to inflate their religiosity, in particular their attendance in church on Sunday.
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Does god exist?

Theologians like to keep discussions of god’s existence on a high abstract plane because that enables all manner of wooly statements to pass unchallenged. It is down-to-Earth practical questions that tend to stump them. In this clip from the 1980s BBC comedy show Not the Nine O’Clock News, an audience member poses just such a question to a theologian.
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