Does Melvin the god want us to know if he exists or not?

There is a nagging little problem that I have with all the proofs of god that theologians keep insisting should be convincing. The fact that we are not all believers in the various gods means that these arguments are not that persuasive and, if gods exist, immediately raises the question: Do these gods want us to know they exist or not?
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Sri Lanka’s touchy Buddhists get a setback while India’s touchy Hindus get mad about a film

Sri Lanka is a Buddhist majority country and like the members of majority religion in any country, Buddhists there tend to be very touchy about any perceived insults to their religion, however trivial, and are willing to punish people for acts they deem to be disrespectful. So I was not surprised when they arrested, detained for four days, and then deported, a British tourist because she had a Buddha tattoo on her arm. Some years ago, another tourist was refused a visa upon arrival when the immigration officials noticed that he too had a Buddha tattoo. The irony is that both people are practicing Buddhists who got the tattoos as symbols of their devotion.
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Plutocrat Mother Teresa and more Vatican sex abuse

A new book titled Original Sin by Italian investigative journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi exposes even more corruption in the Catholic Church and is bound to cause a stir. Even though the existence of rampant pedophilia and financial misdoings within the church are by now pretty well known, the new details are still shocking. Barbie Latza Nadeau describes some of the details revealed in the book.
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Another pathetic article about the existence of god and the soul

Reader Jeff ‘Hyphenman’ Hess takes one for the team and reads the neoconservative rag National Review so we don’t have to, and flags my attention to a recent article that deviates from their usual warmongering to present arguments for the existence of god and a soul. They start by saying that science is what gives evidence for the existence of souls, so you know right off the bat that this is going to be a doozy, and it does not disappoint.
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Book review: Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief & Experience (2014) by Christopher C. French and Anna Stone

Following my recent post and discussion on the issue of psychics, I read three very different books on the subject, all shedding different perspectives. The first of these was the memoir In Search of the Light: The Adventures of a Parapsychologist (1996) by Susan Blackmore that I reviewed two weeks ago. The second of these was the book Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief & Experience (2014) by Christopher C. French and Anna Stone who are both academic researchers, the former at the University of London and the latter at the University of East London.
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Another public cross bites the dust

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has, in a 2-1 decision, overturned a federal district court opinion that a big cross on public land in Maryland did not violate the Establishment Clause. The cross is 40 ft high and was erected in 1925 in memory of soldiers who died in World War I. The case was brought by the American Humanist Association, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and the Center for Inquiry. You can read the opinion here.
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Important court ruling on tax benefits for clergy

Among the many tax benefits that religious clergy get is that any housing allowance that they are given is exempt from taxes. But if they buy a house and then use that allowance to pay the mortgage they can then, like the rest of us, deduct that mortgage interest from any taxable income that they might have. This is a form of double dipping.
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Attempting to defend ‘thoughts and prayers’

The rapid succession of shooting tragedies has resulted in people realizing that the phrase ‘ sending our thoughts and prayers’ has become so routine in public discourse. As a result, the instinct of politicians to say they are sending their ‘thoughts and prayers’ to the victims of mass tragedies has started to come in for considerable well-deserved scorn as it is becoming seen as merely a cost-free way for politicians to act as if they care without having to take any action. Ridiculing it out of existence, so that politicians hesitate to use that trite phrase, may be a good way of getting some actual action.
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The fantasy of atheist discomfort and doubt

There is this odd fantasy that some religious people indulge in that they think that atheists secretly feel some void in their lives and that they try to suppress but that emerges into the open when they approach death, and manifests itself in deathbed remorse and conversions. We saw how religious people looked eagerly for such signs in David Hume and were infuriated when he showed none.
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David Hume taught us how to die

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) wrote an essay titled That to study philosophy is to learn to die. It is not the cheeriest of slogans for the purposes of recruiting students to study the subject but there is no question that philosopher David Hume learned that lesson well. One of the most interesting features of the well-written book The Infidel and the Professor by Dennis C. Rasmussen that is an intellectual biography of the friendship between David Hume and Adam Smith, was its treatment of how Hume viewed his impending death and the great deal of attention that was paid to it during his last days.
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