Religion Archive

Julia Sweeney talks about losing her belief in God

I just discovered Julia Sweeney, a comedian and author who grew up a Catholic and gradually lost her belief. This is not your typical argumentative intellectual atheist diatribe. Julia is very sympathetic to the feelings and attitudes of normal religious people.

Free Will as an Illusion – 1

In 2012 author, philosopher and neuroscience theorist Sam Harris published his book Free Will and reinvigorated the debate about the extent to which people can be thought to be “responsible” for their thoughts, motivations and actions. The idea that humans have “free will” (or perhaps we should say “Free Will” with big F and W)

Why Should We Care What Others Believe?

There is an inherent conflict within Christianity between the urge to preach and convert, and the attitude of tolerance that says “live and let live”. We think we know where the urge to preach comes from. It is supposedly from the “Great Commission” where followers of Jesus are told “Therefore go and make disciples of

“I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist”

This is pretty commonly heard in debates (or conversations) about religion. One person will be stating why she doesn’t believe in god(s), and someone else will say “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.” This is meant to be a clever way of saying: “Atheists bug me. They’re so cock sure they’re right.

“Our God Answers Prayers.” Honest he does.

I regularly pass a sign in front of a local church that says “Our God answers prayer.” I must admit, it gets the intended response from me. I look and think “Hmmm, answers prayers, eh?” So, there’s no doubt, as a piece of marketing the sign does its job. But are we really supposed to

Is There a Non-Believer Substitute for Religious Community?

Let’s pretend organized religion fell seriously out of favour and there were no churches. Would we be missing anything? I suspect there are many people who would be nostalgic for some of the things we get from religion. But it is more than nostalgia. I’m sure church provides members with practical benefits as well. What

Atheism and Intellectual Intimidation

I spent a few minutes in a coffee shop this morning reading a short book by atheist author D. Cameron Web called Despicable Meme – The Absurdity and Immorality of Modern Religion. This is Web’s first book so I guess he can be excused for his unusually zealous attack of religion. He takes a no

Revelation – Who Can You Believe?

All religious claims to be authoritative in some important sense rely on the concept of revelation. By its very nature, religion assumes it is dealing with phenomena that are essentially different from “ordinary” experience. As I have pointed out in previous posts, this claim that religious experience cannot be dealt with the way we deal

The Authority of Scripture

In a world where we increasingly rely on scientific investigation to answer important questions about the world around us, the use of special documents called “scripture” by religious leaders and their billions of followers is puzzling. Religious people just assume scriptures have some special (dare I say, magical) powers that ordinary writings don’t have. But

“Feel Good” Reasons for Believing in God

Even a casual viewing of a television show like 100 Huntley Street gives the impression that religion (or belief in god) is almost all about feeling good. People sit around telling each other about their personal experiences. There’s a tremendous amount of smiling, punctuated with earnest empathizing. Often these experiences involve some personal crisis –

Is Religion a Reliable Basis for Morality

It is surprising how many people believe that without a god to offer an objective basis for morality, there can simply be no trustworthy right or wrong. This has both a positive side and a negative one, and both are confused and confusing. On the positive side is the assumption that god’s existence somehow legitimizes

Proving That God Exists

Not surprisingly, many believers think there are convincing “proofs” of the existence of god. These are almost without exception versions of arguments that have been advanced by theologians and philosophers for at least 2000 years. It is unlikely that even religious believers are actually convinced by these arguments. They are much more influenced by moral

Is Religious Experience Really That Unique?

In my previous post we briefly looked at David Wolpe’s claim that a some aspects of experience cannot be properly captured in a “scientific” analysis of the sort most skeptics are talking about when they say religious claims lack “evidence”. According to Wolpe, and others who share his opinion, looking for evidence of God’s existence

The Role of Religious Experience?

There is an interesting debate on Youtube between Sam Harris and David Wolpe where they discuss the importance of religion and the role of religious experience as it bears on faith, morality and politics. Sam Harris is a well known anti-religious speaker and author whose fairly simple message is that religious discourse should be subjected

The Problem of Coming Out as a Non-Believer

Author’s note: “This is the beginning of a series of posts about religious non-belief. I don’t like the term ‘atheist’ because it sounds so certain. So I use the term ‘skeptic regarding religious belief’ to denote the position of non-belief. The skeptical position that I take is that there is no good reason to believe

Do Scientists have “Faith” in the Same Sense as Religious Believers?

It is a common criticism of non-believers, agnostics and atheists to suggest they need “faith” just as much as religious believers. For instance, secularists as much as religious people have “faith” that the earth will continue rotating around the sun, or that an object will fall if it is released from a height. As David

Sceptics Dawkins and Krauss on The Morning Show

Often Youtube interviews or debates with Richard Dawkins or Lawrence Krauss are long and (I suppose) tedious for most people. Dawkins is a world famous biologist and Krauss a well-known physicist. Both are outspoken non-believers in religion (they are not sure about the term “atheist”). And both are often accused of ridiculing believers. In this

Malcolm Gladwell’s Return to Faith

I read an interview where Malcolm Gladwell talks about his new book “David and Goliath”. The interview suggests that he seems to have had a return to “faith”. I have not read his book yet, and may not after reading this interview, because it struck me that this talk about “faith” is pretty misleading. Gladwell

Atheism Has a Bad Name

One of the more interesting suggestions made by one of the “new atheists” over the last 5 years or so, is that the term “atheist” should be jettisoned from the sceptic’s lexicon. Sam Harris’ contention is that “atheism” and “atheist” have received such a bad press – especially in the U.S. that non-believing people who

Religion in Ontario schools

In a recent opinion piece in the Waterloo Region Record, Luisa d’Amato suggests petty infighting among separate school board trustees is more evidence we don’t need these trustees at all. Many citizens would take this a big step further, and argue it shows why we don’t need a separate school system in Ontario. I’m well