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Posted inGeneral

Repost: If I Were an Unethical Atheist

Reading Time: 3 minutes [I’m taking a break from the blog to bond with and care for my new son. Please enjoy this classic post! I’ll check in periodically to answer comments.] More times than I can count, I’ve heard the argument that atheists can’t be trusted to act ethically, that human beings need to believe in a supernatural […]

Posted inGeneral

Why Not a Distributed Congress?

Reading Time: 3 minutes I’ve just gotten back from a vacation in Europe, where the news coverage of the ongoing American government shutdown vacillates between incredulous amusement and horror at the depths of dysfunction to which our country has sunk. (Then again, I was in Belgium, which still holds the world record for the longest span of time without […]

Posted inGeneral

If I Were an Unethical Atheist

Reading Time: 3 minutes More times than I can count, I’ve heard the argument that atheists can’t be trusted to act ethically, that human beings need to believe in a supernatural source of morality to coerce us to behave. (The most recent time I remember hearing this was in my debate with Peter Hitchens last year.) The argument usually […]

Posted inGeneral

Getting Apologists to Go Off-Script

Reading Time: 4 minutes In a previous post about debating on Twitter, I wrote that I conduct most debates these days through the Socratic method. I find this more effective than arguing by assertion, since believers can reply to that with the standard apologetic counter-assertions, most of which they can reel off without even thinking about them. If we […]

Posted inGeneral

What the Bible Could Have Said

Reading Time: 4 minutes Via Slacktivist, I came across a post on the Christian blog Exploring Our Matrix that asks a perfectly reasonable question: Why Doesn’t the Bible Contain Superior Medical Advice? …you will look in vain in the pages of the Bible for a recommendation that people cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze and cough. You […]

Posted inGeneral

Reengineering Human Nature: Dogmatism

Reading Time: 3 minutes The Problem: Human beings are stubborn creatures, set in our ways, resistant to changing our minds once we’ve made a decision. Religious groups publish creeds which they believe must be taken on faith and should be maintained against all contrary evidence – and they consider the ability to do that a virtue, rather than a […]

Posted inGeneral

Reengineering Human Nature: Pride

Reading Time: 3 minutes The Problem: According to Christianity and other monotheistic religions, pride is the deadliest sin. Taking excessive pleasure in yourself and your own talents and accomplishments is the surest way to end up condemned. I personally don’t agree with the extreme view that pride is the worst possible character flaw – when properly harnessed, it’s an […]

Posted inGeneral

Reengineering Human Nature: Selfishness

Reading Time: 3 minutes The Problem: Nearly all the world’s religions teach that we should be generous to the poor and needy, and warn that greed and selfishness are destructive sins. “For the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). But this principle is rarely honored, even by the religious leaders who supposedly believe […]

Posted inGeneral

Reengineering Human Nature: Violence

Reading Time: 2 minutes The Problem: Many religions, including Christianity, teach that unjustified anger and violence are sins that risk the offender’s eternal soul. The Ten Commandments order people not to murder – usually a crime committed in the throes of anger – while Jesus says that even a momentary outburst of anger can lead to damnation: “But I […]

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