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What's New Archive2003February

What's New on the Secular Web?

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February 28, 2003

Added "The Irrational and Unrestrainable Saddam Hussein" by Mathew Goldstein to the Agora.

After Iraq's decisive defeat in Kuwait, Saddam Hussein threatened to invade Kuwait again! Two years later, he tried to assassinate the emir of Kuwait and former President Bush. In October 2000 he sent five divisions to western Iraq after getting consent from Syria for an attack against Israel. Hussein has repeatedly stated that he wants to turn Iraq into a "superpower" that will dominate the Middle East. Although it will be a difficult and costly undertaking with no guarantee of success, war must be weighed against the larger costs and risks of leaving a nuclear weapon equipped Saddam Hussein in charge.

[Editor's note: Further discussion of this subject should be made as feedback to the related Agora articles via the Feedback forum or as part of the ongoing discussions of the subject in the Political Discussions forum. The Editor does not intend to publish additional articles on this subject, although there is always the slight possibility that an exception might be made.]

February 27, 2003

Richard Carrier has updated the conclusion and final paragraphs of his article "The Bonebox of James: Is It Physical Evidence of the Historicity of Jesus? " in light of new evidence for forgery released by Altman and Nickell.

A recent find, an ossuary (or bonebox) may be evidence that Jesus existed. Carrier compares the facts and arguments, pro and con, and offers his expert opinion.

February 25, 2003

Added "Blame America First?" by James Schaffner to the Agora.

This is a response to the article The Realities of the Peace Movement. "G. L. Pierce needs to get his facts straight before blaming America for the world's ills.

[Editor's note: Further discussion of this subject should be made as feedback to the related Agora articles via the Feedback forum or as part of the ongoing discussions of the subject in the Political Discussions forum. The Editor does not intend to publish additional articles on this subject, although there is always the possibility that an exception might be made.]

February 24, 2003

Added "The Realities of the Peace Movement" by G. L. Pierce to the Agora.

This is a defense of "the Peace Movement," a response to "Thoughts on the Peace Movement" by Daniel G. Jennings. "Although the realities are hard to accept, war is not the solution to current problems."

Added the closing statements in "The Cooke-Aijaz Debate: Does God Exist?" to the Nontheism/Atheism/Debates section of the Modern Documents section of the Library.

Dr. Bill Cooke, of the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists, and Imran Aijaz, of the Auckland University Islamic Society, debate the existence of God. These are the closing statements, the fourth of four installments of 1500 words or less. [Note also the debate moderator's comments, linked below.]

Added "The Cooke-Aijaz Debate: Closing Remarks from the Debate Moderator" by Richard Carrier to the Modern Documents section of the Library.

The debate moderator registers his disappointment with both sides, concluding that nothing new or useful came out of this debate.

February 23, 2003

Added Atheists, Agnostics and Freethinkers of Hamilton College (New York) to the listing of Student Organizations.

Added "Thoughts on the Peace Movement" by Daniel G. Jennings to the Agora.

We find ourselves in a dangerous new reality, in a world which we share with evil people who want to kill us, and destroy our nation and way of life. Such a reality is frightening and uncomfortable, and it requires us to take risks and make sacrifices. Many people can't accept such a reality so they start buying into other false views of reality such as those offered by the peace movement.

February 22, 2003

Added "The Coherence of God: A Response to Theodore M. Drange" by Ralph C. Wagenet to the Modern Library.

This is a response to Incompatible-Properties Arguments: A Survey (1998) by Theodore M. Drange. Wagenet holds that Drange's arguments do not carry weight against the Christian doctrines of God (although they may carry weight against non-Christian views of God). Wagenet presents the arguments as given by Drange, followed with an analysis of each argument "to show where it breaks down." He attempts "to build a coherent picture of the nature of God such that it may be seen how the various attributes of the Christian God hold together in a fashion that is not only consistent, but in fact is the best possible way to understand the nature of God, since these attributes describe God as he truly is."

February 21, 2003

Added "The Only Way Religion Is Going to Disappear" by LeGrande Blount to the Agora.

One of the greatest needs of the human being is being a part of the group. Until there are established groups, clubs, and associations that espouse rational thought and critical thinking, there is little chance of upturning the theistic support clubs called churches.

February 12, 2003

Added "Bush Oblivious to Infidels" by Gary Sloan to the Agora.

Had Bush not packaged his personal beliefs as inviolable truths in his address at the 51st annual National Prayer Breakfast, his sermonizing might be excusable. As it stands, however, his words make it apparent that he is oblivious to those who do not share his faith.

February 10, 2003

Added "Robert Frost: Old Testament Christian or Atheist?" by Gary Sloan to the Agora.

Throughout his adult life, Frost vacillated between piety and irreverence, faith and skepticism. Although his wife accused him of being a closet atheist, he was never quite able to eradicate the fear of God implanted in him by his Puritan forebears.

As the result of feedback to his article The End of Pascal's Wager: Only Nontheists Go to Heaven, Richard Carrier revised the last sentence.

Original: "Therefore, even if God exists, you should be a nontheist. Q.E.D."
Revised: "Since this conclusion contradicts the conclusion of every form of Pascal's Wager, it follows that Pascal's Wager cannot assure anyone of God's existence or that belief in God will be the best bet."

February 7, 2003

Added "The Dilemma of Heaven" by Doug Wetzel to the Agora.

"A consideration of free-will and moral knowledge in the kingdom of heaven--sure to confound your neighborhood theist."

February 4, 2003

Added "Why I Support the War" by Daniel G. Jennings to the Agora.

"The real question may not be if we should attack Iraq and invade the Middle East, but when we should do it."

February 3, 2003

Added "Kersey Graves and The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors" by Richard Carrier to the Modern Library.

The Secular Web online edition of Kersey Graves' The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors--long something of a staple of freethought literature--carries a disclaimer which states, in part, "the scholarship of Kersey Graves has been questioned by numerous theists and nontheists alike; . . . readers should be extremely cautious in trusting anything in this book." Carrier tells us why.

February 2, 2003

Stephen R. Welch has extensively updated the Arguments for the Existence of a God and related pages in the Theism section of the Modern Library.

Richard Carrier has updated and revised his article "Entropy Explained" (originally published in 1998) in the Modern Library.

This is a survey of what entropy really is, and how it is often misunderstood or misused in theist literature.

February 1, 2003

Feature Article for February: "The Origin and Invention of St Valentine's Day" by William Hopper.

Christian theology as expressed by Paul maintains that it is essentially impossible to love a sexual partner and God at the same time. How, then, did celibate nuns and priests come to permit the celebration of a holiday which was dedicated to sexual love?

Book-of-the-Month for February: In Darwin's Shadow: The Life and Science of Alfred Russel Wallace by Michael Shermer.

Virtually unknown today, Alfred Russel Wallace was the codiscoverer of natural selection with Charles Darwin and an eminent scientist who stood out among his Victorian peers as a man of formidable mind and equally outsized personality. Wallace was perhaps the greatest naturalist of his age--spending years in remote jungles, collecting astounding quantities of specimens, writing thoughtfully and with bemused detachment at his reception in places where no white man had ever gone. His 1858 paper on natural selection prompted Darwin to publish (with Wallace) the first paper outlining the theory of evolution.

Video-of-the-Month for February: Crusades.

Medieval expert and founding member of the Monty Python Flying Circus team, Terry Jones, has found a way to educate us about one of the most arrogant and conceited of all the wars ever waged in the name of God: the Christian Crusades--and make us laugh at the same time.

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