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Dark Ages and Secularist Rages: A Response to Professor A.C. Grayling

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Filed under Culture, History

A few years ago, Professor A.C. Grayling, professor of philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London, wrote a column titled "The persistence of the faithful" in The Guardian. Grayling's column was ostensibly concerned with the apparent decision of the British government passing the "Equality Act," which would make it law that adoption agencies, including those run by the Catholic Church, would have to allow homosexual couples to use their adoption services. But Grayling's... Read More

The Historical Argument for God

The argument from history is both stronger and weaker than the other arguments for the existence of God. It is stronger because its data (its evidence) are some facts of history, things that have happened on this planet, rather than principles or ideas. People are more convinced by facts than by principles. But it is weaker because the historical data amount only to strong clues, not to deductive proofs. The argument from history is the strongest psychologically with most people, but it... Read More

Orwellian Analytics: Christians, Atheists, and Bad Statistics

A recent Live Science press release, titled “Believers Leave Punishment to Powerful God,” opened with the memorable words: "Believing in an involved, morally active God makes people less likely to punish others for rule-breaking, new research finds." Which is equivalent to saying that non-believers are less forgiving, less compassionate, less merciful, and—oh, let’s just say it: they are worse people. Don’t get mad at me. This is research! But then maybe this summary is too... Read More

Richard Dawkins and the God of the Old Testament

"The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully." So says Richard Dawkins. Obviously, he doesn't want readers to think he's on the fence about God as presented in the Old Testament—or at... Read More

Why History isn’t Scientific (And Why it Can Still Tell Us About the Past)

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Filed under History

In April last year, Grundy, the author of the Deity Shmeity blog, wrote a post titled "History Isn't My Area". He commented on the release of Bart Ehrman's critique of Mythicism, Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth.  Unlike the majority of actual historians, many prominent atheists find Jesus Mythicism convincing and many of them are unhappy with the generally sceptical and highly renowned Ehrman for criticizing this idea.  Grundy, for his part, stated... Read More

The Myth of Religious Violence

One of the enduring myths of the secular state is that religion is so dangerous, so volatile, so likely to burst into conflagrations of violence, that the only protection we have from societal destruction is the erection of a wall that separates religion from the state. We've all heard the story, and in fact, having also heard endless tales of horror about the great religious wars—especially the French Wars of Religion and the Thirty Years War—we might be strongly inclined to believe... Read More

The Crusades: Urban Legends and Truth

Although many college students today are ignorant concerning the Holocaust from only a generation ago, many seem to think they know enough about the Crusades to use them as an argument for the evil of religion. Like the tired refrain that religion is “anti-science” even though only one example is usually offered (and it is mistaken), the Crusades are often “the” example listed for the equally wearisome complaint that religion causes more wars than any other factor (a laughable... Read More

Beating a Catholic Straw-Man: A Review of “The Swerve”

In 2005, Harvard scholar Stephen Greenblatt published a wonderful book on Shakespeare called Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. Witty, insightful and surprising, it caused thousands of people, including your humble scribe, to look at the Bard with new eyes. Thus it was with great anticipation that I opened my copy of Greenblatt’s latest The Swerve: How the World Became Modern. Like its forebear, this new book is indeed lively, intelligent and fun to read, but as I... Read More

The Spanish Inquisition: Debunking the Legends

The Catholic Church is often the victim of the same kinds of urban legends that surround the Titanic or Aspartame. Whether it is the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, chained church Bibles, or Galileo, people are being led to believe falsehood and making bad decisions based on those falsehoods. Given the gravity of the decisions being made, any intelligent person deserves to have the facts. If there is a hierarchy to urban legends that skeptics use to try to discredit the Catholic... Read More

The Galileo Controversy

It is commonly believed that the Catholic Church persecuted Galileo for abandoning the geocentric (earth-at-the-center) view of the solar system for the heliocentric (sun-at-the-center) view. The Galileo case, for many anti-Catholics, is thought to prove that the Church abhors science, refuses to abandon outdated teachings, and is not infallible. For Catholics, the episode is often an embarrassment. It shouldn’t be. This article provides a brief explanation of what really happened to... Read More

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