Religious people are not that different from nonbelievers

Jason Rosenhouse makes a point that I too have noticed in my discussions about religion with both sophisticated and fundamentalist believers. The former will pooh-pooh the whole idea of evidence for the existence of god and say that religion is based on faith and is a different way of knowing and thus is exempt from the normal demands of evidence and reason that we apply to every other aspect of our lives. They will argue that as a result these are two non-overlapping worldviews and that applying the standards of science to religious beliefs makes no sense. [Read more…]

Bible-based religion is anti-woman at its core

One of the bizarre turns that this election campaign has taken is the assault on women’s rights by the Republican party. It seems crazy for politicians to advocate steps that could alienate potentially 50% of the electorate. Valerie Tarico argues that this is merely the flip side of their desire to appeal to their fundamentalist religious base. [Read more…]

Rick Perry can be as mean as the others

During the time that Rick Perry was still in the running for the Republican nomination, I argued that, while the policies he advocated were as bad as those of the others, he was one of the less obnoxious choices in that he did not seem to have the same level of gratuitous meanness. My feelings were based on some articles I read that said that his administration in Texas actually had a good record on diversity and that he had little to do with that state’s policy on the death penalty and had not shown any particular enthusiasm for putting people to death. [Read more…]

How the Archbishop of Canterbury is chosen

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williamson, the head of the Anglican church, is stepping down at the end of the year. I could not quite figure the man out. He seemed a nice enough sort but wishy-washy. He epitomized the dilemma of the liberal Christian, trying to make nice with science and modern liberal sensibilities on issues of women and gays, while at the same time constrained by the absurdities of the Bible and his own institutional traditions that set limits on how far he could go. [Read more…]

Record warmest winter in Cleveland

Today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer front page headline is that the past winter was the warmest on record ever since data was kept beginning 141 years ago, being a whopping eight degrees higher than average. This past week the daytime highs have been in the mid-70s, when the normal temperatures should be in the mid-40s. Yesterday it was over 80 degrees. People are wandering around in shorts and t-shirts, unthinkable for March. [Read more…]

When victims become statistics

In the aftermath of the cold-blooded murder of 16 Afghans by a US soldier, we have been treated to a flood of details about the soldier and his family, all seeking to understand why he might have done such an appalling thing. This process tends to arouse greater understanding for his motivations and even some sympathy for his plight. This is not unreasonable. It is always useful to learn what drives people to commit horrific acts. [Read more…]