What's New on the Secular Web?
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March 29, 2008
The Kiosk contains articles which are intended to be easily read and of general interest to secularists. The Bookstore contains books on the same subjects. Although one could always search for articles or books on a given subject on the main Kiosk page, the new subject index should make it even easier to find articles and books of interest.
March 27, 2008
Ancient doctors did have access to limited forms of anesthetics and antiseptics. The text has been corrected to reflect this, as well as other trivial corrections.
March 23, 2008
"There is a noticeable reluctance among scientists to grapple with the question of life. All are happy to speculate about the conditions that need to exist for life to originate, but none seem inclined to actually define life itself. The attitude of the scientific community seems to be that this is a difficult subject. I hope to show that perception to be misplaced."
March 22, 2008
Think you know the details regarding the New Testament Empty Tomb and Resurrection stories? Check your knowledge with this short, twenty-two question quiz. The answers may surprise you!
March 15, 2008
"My ultimate goal in this book is to examine the biblical responses to suffering, to see what they are, to assess how they might be useful for thinking people trying to get a handle on the reality of suffering either in their own lives or in the lives of others, and to evaluate their adequacy in light of the realities of our world. What comes as a surprise to many readers of the Bible is that some of these answers are not what they would expect, and some of the answers stand at odds with one another." - Bart Ehrman
March 10, 2008
Paul Draper rightly argues that fine-tuning gives us no reason to believe in a generic design hypothesis that tells us nothing about the motives of the designer. He also correctly notes that "The Case for Cosmic Design" does not establish the existence of God; but it nevertheless offers evidence for the existence of God. Fine-tuning is more surprising under the naturalistic single-universe hypothesis than under theism, and thus constitutes evidence for theism over the naturalistic single-universe hypothesis. When all of the evidence is considered, whether theism is objectively more likely to be true than the naturalistic single-universe hypothesis is an open question that depends upon a difficult assessment of the prior epistemic probability of theism. Since there are independent motivations for believing theism apart from fine-tuning and other design evidence, that evidence counts in favor of theism even if we cannot show that theism is true. Moreover, unless we have good reason to believe that the existence of evil is very improbable under theism, the combination of the fine-tuning data and the existence of evil supports theism over the naturalistic single-universe hypothesis. It is reasonable under the theistic hypothesis to think that the existence of limited, vulnerable moral agents is an overall good despite the evils that almost certainly would accompany the existence of such agents.
March 9, 2008
D.M. Bennett was 19th-century America's most controversial publisher and free-speech martyr. Bennett's opposition to dogmatic religion and puritanical obscenity laws so infuriated Anthony Comstock, the U.S. Post Office's "special agent" and self-proclaimed "weeder in God's garden," that the freethinking publisher was eventually prosecuted, subjected to a controversial and widely publicized trial, and finally imprisoned. Bradford has written a valuable historical contribution, a long-overdue tribute to a free-speech champion, and a colorful depiction of memorable characters and events during a period of great change in American history.
March 6, 2008
Added The Secular Conscience: Why Belief Belongs in Public Life (2008) by Austin Dacey to the Secular Web Bookstore.
The open, secular society is in retreat. From Washington to Rome to Tehran, religion is a public matter as never before, and secular values--personal autonomy, toleration, separation of religion and state, and freedom of conscience--are attacked on all sides and defended by few. The godly claim a monopoly on the language of morality in public debate, while secular liberals stand accused of standing for nothing. In this incisive book, Dacey calls for a bold rethinking of the nature of conscience and its role in public life, urging liberals to lift their self-imposed gag order, arguing for a secularism based on the objective moral value of questions of conscience.
March 3, 2008
"I had always thought that the original sin that Adam committed was having sexual intercourse with Eve--or something like that. Now, I finally get it. It took me a long time and a lot of research, but now I know; 'Original Sin' has nothing to do with sex. Here's my new understanding, based partly upon my rereading of Genesis and also on what I have read about one of the pillars of Christendom, 'Aurelius Augustinus, Augustine of Hippo,' or Saint Augustine."
March 1, 2008
"Many evangelical Christians tremble with excitement at the thought that they are the 'last generation' and 'Jesus is due to return soon.' Others are less excitable and propose that Jesus' 'return' might still be far off. Neither view appears to be correct judging by the plain words of the New Testament--words that armies of theologians have spent centuries trying to divide up and 'conquer,' or in this case, 'explain away.' Let's examine some of those words to discover exactly what it is about them that requires mountains of ingenious explanations from Dispensationalists, Preterists, and other varieties of evangelical Christian apologists."
Book-of-the-Month: The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God (2007) Carl Sagan (Ann Druyan, Ed.)
This is Carl Sagan's prophetic vision of the tragic resurgence of fundamentalism and the hope-filled potential of the next great development in human spirituality. Exhibiting a breadth of intellect nothing short of astounding, he illuminates his explanations with examples from cosmology, physics, philosophy, literature, psychology, cultural anthropology, mythology, theology, and more.