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Believers

A Lesson Learned

Based on conversations with religious family members, Bob Harriet outlines key takeaway points about rational deliberation about religion with the faithful. He concludes, for instance, that fundamentalists reside in a bubble that cannot be penetrated from the outside by philosophical arguments, the results of biblical scholarship, or other such academic concerns. Thus, unless freethinkers particularly enjoy engaging in argument for its own sake, or have other reasons for offering up arguments, it is best to simply live and let live given (as Harriet sees it) the futility of attempts to change the beliefs of the faithful.

Why I am an Apostate

In this largely autobiographical account of why he is now an apostate, James McCartney reflects on the difference between a mere skeptic and former believer who undergoes a kind of deconversion over time. McCartney recounts how his first school teacher, his diligence at Presbyterian Sunday School, and a poem by Robert Burns led him to reject the doctrines of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and those of other churches like it.

On the Existence of Barbers and God

A popular advocacy video on YouTube attempting to rebut arguments from evil has been disseminating among Christian religious organizations for about a decade. In an attempt to show that arguments from evil for the nonexistence of God fail, the video likens them to arguments from (human) longhairs to the nonexistence of barbers. In this article, James R. Henderson refutes the suggested theodicy that an all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly good God allows apparently gratuitous evils to occur because God wants more human beings to come to Him of their own free will.

The Bible Tells Me So… or Does It?

The Bible has long been lauded as a moral guidebook for humankind. In this article, Robert Shaw asks whether the Bible offers any guidance to help us deal with the more complex issues that we face in the modern era. At a time when many minds are focused on the forthcoming US presidential election, Shaw also considers whether the Bible gives any counsel as to how countries should be governed, and what types of political leaders are biblically preferred.

The World’s Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death

The current COVID-19 pandemic has led many, whether believers or not, to consider how widespread suffering can be reconciled with a belief in a loving God. In this article, Shaw considers the arguments advanced by people of faith to square this circle, such as the idea that the novel coronavirus has been sent by God as a punishment.

What are Judeo-Christian Values?

One common expression of religiosity by candidates for government office in the United States is a statement that Judeo-Christian values are foundational for American society and government. Unfortunately, no one has the idea or the courage to ask candidates what they mean by "Judeo-Christian values." In this essay Michael D. Reynolds attempts to determine what this phrase might mean.

Establishing Errancy Beyond Error

The fundamentalist claim that the Bible is inerrant does not stand up to scrutiny. Just one error is sufficient to refute the claim. Given the quite inventive explanations that inerrantists have devised to explain away textual problems, it nevertheless takes a really choice error to flummox them. In "Establishing Errancy Beyond Error," Stephen Van Eck presents just such an error.

An Earthly Version of Pascal’s Wager

Blaise Pascal is famous for, among other things, devising an argument for belief in God's existence even in the absence of good reasons to believe in God. He proposed that a rational person would reason that if God does not exist, then either believing or not believing that He does exist would cost nothing. But a rational person would also reason that if God does in fact exist, then failing to believe that He does would cost personal salvation. Does Pascal's wager really work? Would a rational person place greater value on a questionable promise of benefit than on intellectual rigor? How rational would a parallel belief in "Philo's benefactor" be, and what does the answer to that question tell us about the reasonableness of forming beliefs on the basis of Pascal's wager?

I’m a Believer!

"There is a pervasive and somewhat lopsided tendency in our society to separate fellow humans into the categories of being either 'believers' or 'nonbelievers.' The not-so-subtle implication is usually that there is something wrong with you if you are a 'nonbeliever.' Let's play a little game; I'll take the position that there really is something wrong with nonbelievers. But first, let's swap the traditional idea of who is a believer and who is a nonbeliever..."

Dialogue Between a Protestant Minister and a Dying Teenager

I decided to write this story as a way of explaining my position as an atheist. Like the teen in the dialogue, I believe that there is no objective meaning to life and that we have an opportunity to create our own subjective meaning. "Imagine" by John Lennon is my favorite song because of its beautiful melody, voice, and the message it tells. I thought that a fictional dialogue would be a satisfying method to express my views. The idea of a dialogue between a minister and a dying person was inspired by the Marquis de Sade's work Dialogue Between a Priest and a Dying Man, wherein a priest tries to convert a Man to Christianity before he dies.

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Cornerback

"One huge problem I have with football (one that certainly crops up elsewhere in our society) is the preponderance of players and coaches who continually invoke the Almighty as a major force in their lives, and in the progress of their careers. Certainly if they're hell-bent, so to speak, on deluding themselves about the nature of the universe and their place in it, that's their own affair. But at the start of the 2009 season, I noticed yet another reminder about the level many football players (and other athletes, to be sure) are willing to take this nonsense to."

Yearning for Zion

On a secluded ranch deep in the rural expanse of western Texas, over five hundred people have lived for years in an environment choked by ideological indoctrination and autocratic control of access to the outside world. The blinkered worldview which ranch leaders imposed upon their subjects, and the sexual crimes which they apparently inflicted, are not--according to the owners of the ranch--merely the caprices of depraved human beings. On the contrary: they were commanded by God Himself.