Published: Mon, 05 Dec 2016 11:11:18 +0000
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThe difference between being an atheist and being an agnostic should be pretty clear. Learn more about the differences and similarities.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZMany think agnosticism is more 'reasonable' than atheism and thus reject the label of atheist. The idea that atheism is dogmatic is incorrect.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZWhy do some state laws ban publicly desecrating the flag instead of banning it in private as well? Why do some specify that it doesn't matter if you deface your privately owned flag? What does it mean to make it a crime to 'cast contempt' upon or 'speak evilly' about the American flag? Why do some state that a crime occurs only when an act outrages the 'sensibilities' of those watching? Why do some states make it a crime to deface or cast contempt upon the Confederate flag?
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZDeontological morality is defined by obedience to a set of independent moral rules. The most common are systems where the rules are established by some god.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZArguments can be deductive or inductive and you need to know the difference in order to properly create or evaluate an argument. Learn more.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZMarx is well known for saying that religion is the opiate of the masses, but his perspective on religion is more complex and nuanced than many realize
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZAttempts to ban flag desecration, either through statute or through constitutional amendment, would ban much more than most people seem to realize. Usually people only think about trying to stop burning the American flag, but the truth is that past and current laws against flag desecration cover far more than just burning the flag. Perhaps if people thought more about just what they are outlawing, they wouldn't be so quick to support flag desecration bans.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZIdentifying basic characteristics common to religions, which taken together make religion distinct from other belief systems.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThe legality of abortion is debated more than the morality of abortion, so fundamental ethical questions aren't given the attention they deserve. Some believe that the law shouldn't legislate morality, but all good law is based upon moral values. A failure to openly discuss those values can obscure important discussions.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZAlthough the connections may not be obvious, there are significant ties between efforts to ban the burning or desecration of the American flag and Christian Nationalism. Nothing profane can be desecrated, thus the very idea that the flag can be desecrated is derived from the belief that the flag is sacred in some fashion. This belief is most actively promoted by Christian Nationalists, for whom true patriotism and true religion have been fused into an anti-democratic political movement.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZAn argument might fail on its premises or its inferences. Because of this, it is necessary to distinguish between valid arguments and sound arguments.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZVirtue ethics focuses on the development of sound moral character rather than moral rules. It's believed that having a virtuous character leads to virtuous decisions.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZDefining what religion is and what is not isn't easy and has long been debated, but it is possible to construct a useful, strong definition of religion.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZAccording to Karl Marx, religion is like other social institutions in that it is dependent upon the material and economic realities in a given society. It has no independent history; instead it is the creature of productive forces. As Marx wrote, ‘The religious world is but the reflex of the real world.‘. Page 4.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZOne vitally important issue in the debate over burning and desecrating the American flag tends to be ignored: what exactly does the American flag mean and why? The American flag is a symbol, which is to say that it represents America itself. Therefore, the question of what the American flag means is necessarily a question about what America means and what it stands for.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZAbortion is the focus of some of the most intense social, cultural, political, religious, and ethical debates in modern American society.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZEpistemology is the study of the nature of knowledge and how we acquire it. Most debates between atheists and theists are ultimately epistemological disagreements.
2016-12-05T11:11:18Z'Existence precedes essence' has come to be a classic, even defining, formulation of the heart of existentialist philosophy.
2016-12-05T11:11:18Z'Microevolution' and 'macroevolution' are often used by creationists who don't understand what they are. There is no real difference between them.
2016-12-05T11:11:18Zclass="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >God and Spousal
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZAn American philosophy developed during the early and mid twentieth century. Pragmatists identified the nature of truth with the principle of action.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZAlthough Christmas has largely been a Christian religious holiday, that has changed dramatically. It already included many elements borrowed from other religions, which made it easy to transform in modern, secular culture.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZPhilosophy addresses issues from all facets of life - an expert on all of philosophy would have to be an expert on all of life's most fundamental questions.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZYou can't debate the nature of morality or even specific moral issues unless you understand what sorts of disagreements can exist and how to address them.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZCS Lewis and JRR Tolkien were close friends who also had serious disagreements over theology, apologetics, and the quality of Lewis' Narnia books.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZTo what extent, if any, may the government allow prayers at the graduation ceremonies of public schools? The answer is simple, although difficult to apply in practice: if the government has any say or controlling function over the words being said, then prayer and evangelism may not be a part of those words. This is the underlying principle which ties together a number of important court cases dealing with school prayer during football games, graduation ceremonies, and other school events.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThe most common, popular, and recognized symbol for Christmas today isn't an infant Jesus or even a manger scene, but Santa Claus. It's Santa who graces all the ads and decorations, not Jesus. Santa Claus is not, however, a religious figure or symbol.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThe most common and popular arguments against gay marriage, mostly religious in nature, are easy to refute because they're based on serious errors.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZObama has been accused of being a Muslim and an atheist; the truth is that his background is more secular and diverse than has been traditional.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZAh Puch was the Mayan god of death, disaster, and destruction. He ruled Mitnal, the lowest level of the Mayan underworld. Learn about this god.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThe primary architect of liberation theology in the Latin-American and Catholic context is Gustavo Gutierrez. A Catholic priest who grew up in grinding poverty in Peru, Gutierrez employed Marxs critiques of ideology, class, and capitalism as part of his theological analysis of how Christianity should be used to make peoples lives better here and now rather than simply offer them hope of rewards in heaven.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZHillary Clinton grew up in a Methodist household, she taught Methodist Sunday school like her mother, is a member of a Senate prayer group, and regularly attends the Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington. Hillary Clinton can be placed in the moderate to liberal wing of American Christianity, but she appears to share a number of attitudes with more conservative American Christians. Clinton's liberalism is a relative matter
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZYou need to know what an argument is in order to construct a sound, valid argument or to evaluate another person's argument.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZIf you want to better evaluate the claims, ideas, and arguments you encounter, you need a better understanding of basic logic and critical thinking.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZAtheists are often asked 'why don't you believe in God?' Here are some of the most common reasons why atheists don't believe in any gods.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZAgnostic theism is explored, as well as its relation to agnosticism, and how these two views differ in terms of spiritual belief and doubt in god(s).
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZIdealism is a category of philosophical systems which argue that reality is somehow dependent upon the mind rather than independent of the mind.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZMost histories of the Crusades tend to focus on the Crusaders themselves and the perspectives of European Christians seeking conquest and plunder in the Holy Land. But what about the Muslims whose lands were invaded and cities sacked? What did they think about these religious armies marching out of Europe? Page 2.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZJean-Paul Sartre was a French novelist and philosopher who is perhaps most famous for his development and defense of atheistic existential philosophy.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZMany Christians insist that Christmas is a Christian religious holiday which belongs exclusively to them. While there are many ways to celebrate Christmas in a Christian manner, the simple fact is that there are many important elements to popular Christmas celebrations which have nothing whatsoever to do with religion or Christianity. These secular elements of Christmas are at least as important as the religious ones. So if you want to celebrate Christmas, you can do so without religion.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZPerhaps the most basic reason for not believing in any gods is the absence of good reasons for doing so. Since the burden of support lies first and foremost with those making the positive the claim the theistic, religious believers who say their god exists non-believers don't need reasons not to believe. They may help, but they aren't particularly necessary. Instead, what is required are reasons to believe.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThere have been as many theories as theorists and all offer important insights on the nature of religion and possible reasons why religion has persisted through human history.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZMictlantecuhtli was the Aztec god of death and the underworld. To honor Mictlantecuhtli, Aztec sacrificed an impersonator of Mictlantecuhtli at night and at a temple named Tlalxicco, which means 'navel of the world.' When Hernan Cortes landed, Aztec ruler Moctezuma II thought that it was the arrival of Quetzalcoatl, signalling the end of the world, so he stepped up human sacrifices to offer the skins of victims to Mictlantecuhtli in order to placate him.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThere don’t appear to be valid secular reasons for thinking that allowing gay couples to marry will have any deleterious effects on marriage generally.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThe field of ethics is usually broken down into three different ways of thinking about ethics: descriptive, normative and analytic.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThe idea of objective truth is the idea that no matter what we believe to be true, some things will always be true and other things will always be false. Beliefs have no bearing on the facts of the world around us. That which is true is always true - even if we stop believing it and even if we stop existing at all.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZNietzsche wrote a great deal about nihilism, but that was due to his concern about its effects on society and culture, not because he advocated nihilism.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThe general attitude is that any religious morality is preferable to a secular morality; there are many reasons to think that this viewpoint is false.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZDiscussions of efforts to amend the Constitution typically focus on the desire to ban burning the American flag, but current and past proposals have included criminalizing 'physical desecration' of the American flag. Desecration is defined as violating the 'sacredness' of something. Something is 'sacred' when it is 'holy' or 'worthy of worship, religious veneration.' Thus, efforts to ban the desecration of the American flag are efforts to transform it into an object of religious worship.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZLaunched in response to the capture of Edessa by Muslims in 1144, the Second Crusade was accepted by European leaders due to St. Bernard of Clairvaux who was determined to reassert Christian domination in the Holy Land.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThere are many reasons to believe that everyone and society as a whole will be better off now that gay marriage is legal, contrary to the dire predictions of critics.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZChristians are expected to act much like Peter. Also, the gospels describe Jesus as calling Peter his “rock” upon which the future church would be built.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThis claim is common, but it rests on a misunderstanding of what real freedom of religion entails. The most important thing to remember is that freedom of religion, if it is going to apply to everyone, also requires freedom from religion. Why is that? You do not truly have the freedom to practice your religious beliefs if you are also required to adhere to any of the religious beliefs or rules of other religions.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZAtheists are frequently challenged to explain why they are so critical of religious and theistic beliefs. Why do we care what others believe? Why don't we just leave people alone to believe what they want? Why do we try to
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThere are a lot of resources here about agnosticism for beginners: what agnosticism is, what it isn't, and refutations of many popular myths about agnosticism. I've discovered, though, that it isn't always easy to direct people to all of the information they need. That's why I've collected here some of the basics about atheism for beginners that I find myself linking to most often.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZHere is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the fifth century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZSecularism is largely responsible for defining the modern West, for good or for ill. Understanding secularism is thus critical for understanding the West today.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZWhat is religion? What are some varieties of religions? What is theism, and what are some of the varieties of that? Atheists aren't theists, but they can be religious - understanding what theism and religion are is key to understanding why that is true.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZAndrew, whose Greek name means 'manly,' was one of Jesus' twelve apostles. The brother of Simon Peter and son of Jona (or John), Andrew's name appears on all of the lists of apostles, and his being called by Jesus appears in all three synoptic gospels as well as Acts. Andrew's name comes up multiple times in the gospels - the synoptics show him at the Mount of Olives and John describes him as a one-time disciple of John the Baptist.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZBiogeography not only provides significant inferential evidence for evolution and common descent, but it also provides testable predictions. Learn more.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZSome argue that the only rights we have are those spelled out explicitly in the Constitution, but that's nonsense. It's not how the Constitution works
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZHumanism as a philosophy today can be as little as an perspective on life or as much as an entire way of life; the common feature is that it is always focused primarily on human needs and interests. Philosophic Humanism can be distinguished form other forms of humanism precisely by the fact that it constitutes some sort of philosophy, whether minimalist or far-reaching, that helps define how a person lives and how a person interacts with other humans.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZIt's popular for self-proclaimed agnostics, and more than a few theists who aren't agnostics, to proclaim that agnosticism is more rational and reasonable than atheism. Sometimes agnostics may also include theism as being less rational, but typically atheism is the only target. This reveals the underlying problem: the goal is simply to attack atheism, not to make a case for agnosticism, so both atheism and agnosticism are misrepresented to make the latter look more sensible than the former.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZCourt scenes in American movies, television, and books typically show people swearing an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Usually they swear an oath 'to God' and with a hand on the Bible. Such scenes are so common that most people seem to assume that it's required, but it's not.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZChristmas can be a difficult time of the year for atheists. Although it has become highly secularized in recent years, the holiday has retained strong religious aspects. Many family celebrations of Christmas also include religious rituals which atheists cannot easily participate in without feeling dishonest. Should atheists even care about holidays like Christmas? Should they ignore Christmas, perhaps even create a new holiday as a surrogate? What exactly do atheists do with Christmas?
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZGender Selection - ethical considerations for new technologies
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZAmericans all over the country in all walks of life look forward to getting a day off on December 25, a day which has traditionally (and almost certainly erroneously) been celebrated as the birth day of Jesus Christ, savior for all Christians. What's wrong with that? Nothing, really - except possibly the fact that it is a holiday which is legally recognized/mandated by our government. Should Christmas be treated like a secular holiday?
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThe Coherence Theory of Truth, developed by Hegel and Spinoza, often seems to be an accurate description of how our conception of truth actually works. The Coherence Theory of Truth says: a belief is true when we are able to incorporate it in an orderly and logical manner into a larger and complex system of beliefs.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZIt is a historical irony that the Reformation created a political and religious culture in northern Europe that was especially hostile to the spirit of free inquiry and scholarship that characterized Humanism. Why? Because the Protestant Reformation owed so much to the developments of Humanism and the work done by humanists to change how people thought.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZIt is possible to say that, scientifically, God does not exist - just as science is able to discount the existence of a myriad of other alleged beings.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZWho were the Israelites and where did they come from? The Pentateuch and Deuteronomist give explanations, but extra-biblical sources and archaeology produce different conclusions.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZBecause atheists are so often seen critiquing religion, it's common for religious theists to wonder what atheists really think about religion and why. The truth is complex, however, because there is no single atheistic opinion about religion. Atheists' critical stance with regards to religion is more a product of cultural trends in the West than of anything internal to atheism itself, which is only the absence of belief in gods. Atheists have a wide variety of opinions about religion.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThere is a strong correlation between being an atheist and being irreligious, but there is no necessary and inherent connection between the two.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZWhen religious positions on birth control are discussed, we usually hear how contraceptives are forbidden. Religious traditions are more pluralistic and varied than that, however, and even within the religions most publicly opposed to birth control we find that there are traditions which would permit the use of contraceptives, even if only in limited circumstances. It’s important to understand these traditions because not every religion regards birth control as a simplistic issue.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZMany ex-Catholics are technically Catholic, at least according to the Catholic Church. Permanently changing that requires getting excommunicated. But how?
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThe Canaanites play an important role in the story of the Israelites' conquest of their 'Promised Land,' especially in the Book of Joshua, but the ancient Jewish scriptures contain almost no substantive information about them. The Canaanites are the villains of the story because they are living on land promised to the Israelites by Yahweh.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZMany practitioners and followers of astrology are certain that it is scientific. Are they right? When examining astrology for many standards traits of pseudoscience, a different conclusion becomes apparent.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZTheists offer all sorts of reasons for why they believe in a god but the only respectable reason is one which, if proven false, would at the very least cause them to seriously reconsider their belief and perhaps drop it entirely.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZPostulating too few causes results in oversimplification; too many causes is exaggeration. These fallacies mask the true causes of an event.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZWhat authority does the government have over religious rituals like prayer? Can the government write specific prayers for public school students to recite every day?
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThe Christian Right regularly claims that America is a 'Christian Nation' and was founded on Christian principles. If this is the case, then those principles should be identifiable in America's founding legal document, the Constitution. If the Constitution explicitly reflects Christian principles and doctrines, then the Christian Right is correct that America was founded on Christianity; otherwise, their claims are wishful thinking at best. So where are God and religion in the Constitution?
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThere are a lot of misunderstandings about who atheists are, what they believe, and what they don't believe. People become atheists for many different reasons. Being an atheist isn't a choice or act of will - like theism, it's a consequence of what one knows and how one reasons. Atheists are not all angry, they aren't in denial about gods, and they aren't atheists to avoid taking responsibility for their acts. It's not necessary to be afraid of hell and there are advantages to being an atheist.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZMany conservative evangelical Christians at this time of year want to 'put Christ back in Christmas' and insist that 'Jesus is the Reason for the Season.' Unfortunately, they don't have much of a case.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZWhat is monotheism? Learn about the belief in the existence of a single god and how it differs from polytheism and atheism.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZWhether she is elected president or not, Hillary Clinton is and will remain for some time a leading figure in the Democratic Party. Her views on matters like religion, the role of religion in government and public life, church/state separation, secularism, faith-based initiatives, reproductive choice, atheists and atheism, religion in public school, and related issues should matter to atheists. Secular atheists need to know where she really stands on religious and secular issues.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThe quotes of Thomas Paine reveal him not only to be a political revolutionary but also a man who advocated for free thought over religion.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZNot all religious traditions condemn abortion, and those that do don't condemn it in every situation. Religious positions on the morality of abortion are much more varied.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThere seems to be some confusion at times over just whether and how religion and philosophy should be distinguished from each other. Learn more.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZAn overview with links to lots of resources about atheism, including refutations of many popular myths about atheism.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZCelebrity scientist Carl Sagan was born a Jew, but his quotes reveal he didn't believe in God. Learn about Sagan's atheism in his own words.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThe Philosophy of Mind is a more recent field that deals with questions of consciousness and how it interacts with the body and the outside world. The Philosophy of Mind asks not only what mental phenomena are and what gives rise to them, but also what relationship they have to the larger physical body and the world around us.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThe Matrix and Buddhism: Is the Matrix a Buddhism Film? There are many important Buddhist themes throughout the Matrix films - for example, the idea that our reality is really maya, or illusion. But is that enough to call the Matrix movies Buddhist movies?
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZIs there a fundamental right to abortion? Is there a right to privacy that protects contraception and use of contraceptives?
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZConservatives insist that the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion, and argue against strict separation of church and state. Too often, though, conservatives seem to have a flawed understanding of what freedom from religion really entails and fail to realize that freedom from religion is crucial to religious liberty in general.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThere are many forms of theism, from believing in one god to believing in many gods. They aren't all the same, and can't be critiqued in the same way.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThe idea of atheists attending church services seems contradictory. Doesn't that require belief in God? Doesn't a person have to believe in a religion in order to attend it's worship services? Isn't freedom on Sunday morning one of the benefits of atheism? Although most atheists don't count themselves as part of religions which require regular attendance at churches or other houses of worship, you can still find some who do attend such services from time to time or even regularly.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZIn order to debate well on any topic and think critically about all of the opinions we encounter, we need the proper skills. Whether reading advertising, listening to politicians, buying a used car, or considering arguments for religion, we need to know how to carefully examine what is being said and consider the validity of the content or structure.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZThe fossil record has an important, unique characteristic: it is our only actual glimpse into the past where common descent is proposed to have taken place.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZC.S. Lewis was an author, a scholar of English literature and a famous Christian apologist. The son of a lawyer, Lewis grew up in Ireland at a time when northern Ireland was not torn by the bitter strife which would eventually come to characterize its religious situation. Early on he developed a love for reading and learning. He rejected Christianity at an early age, deciding that Christian myths were inferior to others in the world and that the Christian god, if it existed, must be a sadist.
2016-12-05T11:11:18ZA timeline of the First Crusade, 1095 - 1100 : Christianity vs. Islam. Launched by Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont in 1095, the First Crusade was the most successful.