Archive for February, 2008

Good science, bad conclusions; Bad science, bad conclusions

Posted in Atheism, Christianity, science with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2008 by carriedthecross

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I’m a firm believer in giving credit where it is due, whether or not I agree with a person. I’m a relatively liberal Democrat, but I recognize there are Republicans who have done and are doing great things.  I don’t want John McCain in the White House next January, but I see no need to assail his character or to deny that he has done good things as a Senator.  Similarly, I am hesitant to throw out the baby with the bathwater in the case of Christian scientists.

I am not a scientist.  I would feel inappropriate delving too deep into scientific questions on this blog because I feel unprepared and unqualified to contribute much to the scientific debate.  I will leave it to others to debate science.  However, in this case the topic transcends the realm of science and moves into the realm of politics, education and philosophy.  

I am no fan of the Intelligent Design movement.  I agree with the general prognosis that it is nothing more than repackaged creationism in its ultimate goals.  At the same time, there are those in the ID community that I think are well intentioned, if wrong.  There are men and women who I think are good scientists, even if they come to some bad conclusions.

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Does God Love Everybody?

Posted in Atheism, Christianity with tags , , , , , on February 26, 2008 by carriedthecross

Perhaps the greatest appeal of the Christian faith, at least in our time, is the notion of unfettered love. The idea of a God who loves unconditionally, and seeks to empower mankind to do the same is desirable in a seemingly disinterested world. I will admit that still yet I find the idea of an omni-benevolent God to be psychologically alluring. But I am not certain that the Biblical God fits that criteria.Everyone who has ever attended a Sunday School class knows John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…” 1 Timothy 2 states that God wills for “everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” That is a nice thought, but does God’s track record as recorded by his own followers in the Bible match up to that idea?
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Religious Unaffiliation on the Rise

Posted in Atheism, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2008 by carriedthecross

The New York Times front page has an article Americans Change Faith at Rising Rate, Report Finds. The article is based on a report by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. It mostly centers around the idea that denomination loyalty is eroding and that many Americans have switched from the faith group in which they were raised.

What I find interesting–and encouraging–is the number of Americans who are unaffiliated (atheist, agnostic, or nothing in particular) is rising substantially.

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I cannot help but become excited by the idea that religiously unaffiliated Americans are the fourth largest religious group. I look forward to the day that American atheists and agnostics have the same amount of weight as American Christians or American Jews. It is saddening, and in fact infuriating, that to be a viable candidate for public office (especially for the presidency) an individual must bend over backwards to affirm their belief in some transcendent father figure who wants to impose his morality on America via the nations Commander-in-Chief. The idea that a presidential candidate must pass a religious litmus test is just pathetic.

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Christian Kitsch: Witnessing With Bible Tracts

Posted in Atheism, Christianity with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2008 by carriedthecross

When I came across this little jewel I knew not whether to laugh or cry. My friends, I introduce you to the humors and horros of Chick Publications.

A noble, God-fearing man has embarked on a quest to help well-intentioned, but far too meek Christian evangelicals spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. How? Through Christian tracts. Learn how to witness to all of your friends!

Shopping? Hand a tract to the chasier, leave a tract in the changing room or slip a tract into the pockets of unpurchased clothes! Want to witness from home? Leave tracts on the coffee table for guests or slip a tract into the envelope when you pay your bills!

Want to share your faith, but too mild mannered to do it? Just leave a tract. Learn how to witness to a Muslim*,

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Heroes of Humanity #2: Henry Clay

Posted in Heroes of Humanity with tags , , , , , , , on February 23, 2008 by carriedthecross

In my continuing efforts to recognize those qualities of humanity, displayed in specific individuals, that I aspire to in lieu of defining myself by what I am not, I would like to take the time to honor my next “Hero of Humanity,” Henry Clay.

It is probably a good thing that few people I know read this blog, because most of them would grumble at the words “Henry Clay.” See, I have a mild obsession with the man. In fact, I think he is perhaps one of the most overlooked characters in American history. In my opinion, Clay deserves a place of preeminence alongside Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt.
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Atheism ≠ Misanthropy

Posted in Atheism with tags , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2008 by carriedthecross

I discussed a while back several reasons why I was hesitant to abandon my Christian faith, but somehow I managed to leave out one of the key issues that hindered my eventual de-conversion.  Growing up I knew many non-religious people.  No one in my immediate family is a Christian and few of my friends were more than culturally Christian.  But although many of the people I was raised around where non-religious, I can’t think of a single adamant atheist—there is a very real distinction.  Naturally, since I entered college at a conservative evangelical university, I have known few atheists.

But there is a recurring theme in some of the few atheists I have known that is rather disheartening: a severe sense of misanthropy.  It seemed to me that there was some kind of natural progression from rejecting the existence of God to rejecting the value of humanity.  This is troubling at best, and frightening at worst.  My de-conversion from Christianity brought with it an entirely new and fresh perspective on the human race.  Thoughts of the original sin of the past were replaced by a focus on the progress of the future.  Distress at a seemingly inborn nature of aggressiveness and egoism are mediated by an appreciation for displays of restraint and altruism.

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Am I Ashamed of Atheism?

Posted in Atheism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2008 by carriedthecross

Over the weekend I had a most unusual encounter.  My grandparents were having their 60th Anniversary party in our hometown, so I made the journey home to make an appearance (I was informed in no uncertain terms this was not an optional event, mind you).  Clad in my ‘Sunday Best,’ I arrived and endured many grueling introductions as my grandmother showed me off to her friends.  It really was an awkward event.  I come from a rural family dominated by farmers.  Still, my grandmother is like a chapter out of a 1950s movie: prim, proper, mildly racist, and obsessed with perceptions.  So this party of two hundred or so people included a mix of country bumpkins and suburban snobs.

The exchanges between members of these diverse groups was not the source of my discomfort.  In fact, it was quite entertaining.  The incredibly awkward encounter came when I ran across a woman from my old church.  A German immigrant, she retired a few years ago as the general manager of the local bank.  During the course of our smalltalk she caught me off guard.  In her thick German accent she asked, “Still going to church?”

I didn’t skip a beat, “Yeah.” What!?  No, no, no.  I couldn’t believe the word came out of my mouth, but at the same time I had no inclination to take it back.  I found reprieve from further probing when I noticed my nephew in the corner of the room pestering his sister. “Excuse me,” I politely asked, pointing to the bullying going on. 
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