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Posted inGeneral

The God of Shadow and Vapor

Reading Time: 4 minutes In April, I wrote a piece chastising Madeline Bunting for her willful invocation of the Courtier’s Reply, in which she attacks atheists for criticizing the beliefs actually held and practiced by billions of people, rather than the beliefs of a tiny minority of theologians and pundits like herself. But let it not be said that […]

Posted inGeneral

Moving Beyond Awe

Reading Time: 3 minutes The nineteenth-century German theologian Rudolf Otto, in his book The Idea of the Holy, popularized the term “numinous”, an adjective describing the sense of mystery and wonder that purportedly stems from the presence of a deity. According to Otto, the sense of the numinous had two main characteristics: the mysterium tremendum, the sense of fear […]

Posted inGeneral

Mystery Does Not Equal God

Reading Time: 6 minutes By Sarah Braasch When I was about seven years old I almost died. It wasn’t the only time I almost died, but it was one of my most colorful near death experiences. I had acquired some sort of flu bug or food poisoning or I don’t know what, but my mother, in her either infinite […]

Posted inGeneral

Thoughtful Iconoclasts: A Response to Madeleine Bunting

Reading Time: 5 minutes I last mentioned Guardian columnist and Templeton Foundation fellow Madeleine Bunting in 2007, in “On Being Uncontroversial“. She’s recently written another column attacking atheism, alleging that the New Atheists are drowning out, in her words, “real debates” about religion and faith. Personally, I don’t see the basis of her complaint. I think we’ve been provoking […]

Posted inGeneral

Book Review: The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality

Reading Time: 3 minutes (Editor’s Note: The following review was solicited and is written in accordance with this site’s policy for such reviews.) Summary: A quiet, thoughtful, non-polemical book. At times Comte-Sponville comes close to conceding more than he should, but his positive evocation of atheism is a much-needed effort and may be appealing to theists grappling with the […]

Posted inGeneral

De-Mystification

Reading Time: 3 minutes Inspired by a good post on Spanish Inquisitor, as well as a similarly good post by Greta Christina (the atheistic stars have aligned!), I had some thoughts about the role of mysticism in religion, especially as it relates to sex. Freethinkers should be working to disseminate accurate information about sex, of course – information on […]

Posted inGeneral

Further Thoughts on John Haught

Reading Time: 5 minutes Since the comment thread for my post “On Amateur Atheism” has sparked a lively debate, I looked around on the internet earlier today for some further explanation of John Haught’s views. I found them in this Salon interview, and I’d like to offer some further comments on the theology outlined therein. One of Haught’s major […]

Posted inGeneral

Book Review: The End of Faith/Letter to a Christian Nation

Reading Time: 8 minutes The End of Faith Summary: An incendiary polemic against unjustified belief. Many strong points, strongly made – but what on earth is that endorsement of psychic powers doing in there? With the 2004 publication of his book The End of Faith, Sam Harris has probably become one of the best-known and most influential atheists in […]

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