All posts by admin

Gay Marriage – Here We Go Again

Back in 2010, I wrote an article about California Proposition 8 which banned gay marriage. It was challenged in court, and eventually struck down on Constitutional grounds. Since then, many states have passed laws legalizing gay marriage, but the religiously motivated opposition has never given up, and now with a Republican Congress and White House, they are hoping to revisit the issue.[i] There are two facets to the gay marriage controversy. First, the legalization of same sex marriage, and second, Read more [...]

A Catholic Condom Conundrum

You’re in love.  You get married.  But you don’t want kids…at least not for awhile.  Maybe later.  Or maybe not at all.  But you definitely do not want kids now. You and your spouse are devoutly Catholic or Christian evangelical, so you are anti-abortion.  You might also be anti-contraception, but that only changes the degree of the dilemma that you face.  Because if you really don’t want kids, if having a child would be an emotional or financial disaster or a threat to your health, Read more [...]

Amazing (dis)Grace

An amazing thing happened in the 2016 election. Donald Trump’s victory was, in large part, the result of overwhelming support from the Religious Right. Trump won 81 percent of the white evangelical vote, higher than George W. Bush, John McCain or Mitt Romney. An article in the April 2017 issue of New Republic magazine asks: “How did a thrice-married biblical illiterate like Trump hijack the Religious Right?” The article, titled “Amazing Disgrace,” quotes Russell Moore, a leader of the Read more [...]

Trump Supporters Take a Big Hit

Front page article in the LA Times today: "Obamacare replacement hits Trump voters hard."[i] Lower income, elderly voters in rural red states would be the hardest hit. In particular, 60-year-olds making as little as $30K will lose more than $6K/year in subsidies that they received under Obamacare. Most of those folks voted for Trump. But here’s the hilarious part: Higher income younger people in urban areas that mostly voted for Clinton will get more financial help with Trumpcare. Of Read more [...]

Thoughts on Mortality

If you live long enough, eventually you will experience the loss of a close friend or family member. When it happens, it is a reminder of your own mortality. I watched the widow of a close friend throw a handful of dirt on his casket last week. I had lunch with him a week before his fatal heart attack. We reminisced about old times and then he told me that he was having a stent operation in a few days. He had been experiencing chest pains on his daily walks. His cardiologist’s examination showed Read more [...]

Man’s Inhumanity to Man

Central tenets of the Christian faith include the ideas that God created everything from nothing, knows everything that can be known, and benevolently “watches over” his flock. A problem that believers have to deal with is the pesky fact that a lot of bad stuff happens, seemingly contradicting that benevolence. There are two kinds of bad things that happen: Natural disasters and Man’s inhumanity to Man. This, the second of two articles, addresses the horrible things that we inflict on each Read more [...]

Natural Disasters: Good, Evil or Whatever

Argumentum ad Ignorantiam: (appeal to ignorance) A logical fallacy that claims a proposition is true simply on the basis that it has not been proved false or vice versa. Central tenets of the Christian faith include the ideas that God created everything from nothing, knows everything that can be known, and benevolently “watches over” his flock. A problem that believers have to deal with is the pesky fact that a lot of bad stuff happens, seemingly contradicting that benevolence. This essay Read more [...]

Are Man’s Powers Divinely Gifted?

Several years ago, I participated in an online discussion about how Man had influenced the evolutionary process. The premise was that since no other animal had ever had the capability to do this, it must be the result of a gift from God. Here are some excerpts: Sy says: “I now realize that while Darwinian evolution might have been the single predominant force for change during the almost 3 billion year history of life on Earth, this is no longer true, and it is likely that it will never be true Read more [...]

A Penny Saved

"A penny saved is a penny earned” ---one form of an old proverb Growing up in a small town in Michigan in the middle of the twentieth century, I heard this proverb frequently, and it always puzzled me. In elementary school, I earned a weekly allowance by performing household chores like mowing the lawn and drying and putting away the dishes as my mother washed them. My income was a quarter a week, and I usually blew it on candy bars and “pop” as we called carbonated soft drinks back then. Read more [...]

Does Trump Have Free Will?

Free Will – do we have it? That has been the subject of many lofty dissertations by theists, philosophers, and yes, atheists like me. The consensus of most nonbelievers, one that I share, is probably not. Decisions made by the brain are based on genetic predisposition, life experiences, and sometimes one or more random inputs determined by the current environment. I shorten it to Nature, Nurture and Random (NNR). Before we tackle The Donald, let me give an example so that we are all on the same Read more [...]

Responsibility

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." --Thomas Jefferson Here is another quote that is often attributed to Jefferson, but does not appear in any of his known writings: “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”  Even if this is not a direct quote, it clearly reflects Jefferson’s views on the need for active participation by citizens if they are to retain their freedom. Read more [...]

Religious Persecution in the US

According to a Washington Times article, a recent survey shows that 63% of respondents to a LifeWay research survey said that persecution of Christians is increasing in the US. Could that survey be biased? On the LifeWay web site, they describe their business as follows: “LifeWay is one of the world’s largest providers of Christian resources.” That does not mean they are biased, but it makes one wonder about their sample selection. Some evangelical Christians think the so-called “War on Read more [...]

RFRA – Religious Rights vs. Civil Rights

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” --- Amendment I to the U.S. Constitution The original intent of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was to relieve religious groups from criminal prosecution for religious activities that break laws, like Native American groups who use illegal hallucinogenic drugs in their ceremonies. That seemed reasonable to most people, and the RFRA passed Congress with overwhelming Read more [...]

The Creator On Trial – Part 6

Summary and Conclusions “The Case for a Creator” is quite repetitive, and I have skipped several chapters to avoid boring the reader. Many of the contributors advance the same arguments. Here are the most common ones: Natural processes cannot get “something from nothing,” but God can. This is also called the First Cause argument. A corollary states that God is eternal and was not created from nothing, but the energy and matter in the Universe are not eternal and therefore must have Read more [...]

The Creator On Trial – Part 5

Chapter 10 begins with Rene Descartes’ famous quote, “cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am.) The chapter ends with a quote by philosopher Stuart C. Hackett: “With modest apology to Descartes: Cogito, ergo Deus est! I think, therefore God is.”1 Both the author and Hackett should read Descartes’ entire quote. There are two prefacing words (when translated from the Latin) that significantly change the meaning, especially when applied to religious faith: “Dubito, ergo cogito, ergo Read more [...]

The Creator On Trial – Part 4

The Chapter 4 interviewee is Stephen Meyer, one of the founders of the Discovery Institute. Meyer states, “If it’s true that there’s a beginning to the universe…then this implies a cause that transcends the universe.” He continues, “To get life going in the first place would have required biological information; the implications point beyond the material realm to a prior intelligent cause.”  This is a slightly different twist on the First Cause argument that is often used by creationists.  Read more [...]

The Creator On Trial – Part 3

The interviews start in Chapter 3. Jonathan Wells, the interviewee for this chapter, is well-known for his attacks on evolution. Wells is a Moonie (member of the Unification Church) who says he was personally tasked by Rev. Moon to tear down the theory of evolution. He lists ten “Icons of Evolution,”1 that he claims are all false. The first “icon” that he attacks is the Miller-Urey experiment conducted in 1953 that simulated the early earth atmosphere in a flask and subjected it to continuous Read more [...]

The Creator On Trial – Part 2

The interviews in Strobel’s book, “The Case for a Creator,” are written in the form of Socratic dialogues, where Strobel takes on the role of skeptical questioner, as if he were still unconvinced of the Creator’s existence. His biography contradicts this, stating that he converted to Christianity in 1981. This book was published in 2004, so posing as a religious skeptic is disingenuous, merely a writer’s artifice to gain credibility for the arguments. His position as a Christian apologist Read more [...]

The Creator On Trial – Part 1

A Little History of Creationism in the US Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. --- Amendment I to the U.S. Constitution   Scopes Trial: Dayton, Tennessee, 1925 Sometimes called “The Scopes Monkey Trial,” John Scopes, a substitute science teacher, Read more [...]

Five Kinds of Guys

“All generalizations are dangerous, even this one.” ― Alexandre Dumas, fils From Wikipedia: Expressed in philosophical language, a hasty generalization is a fallacy of defective induction, a conclusion that has been made on the basis of weak premises. Unlike fallacies of relevance, in fallacies of defective induction, the premises are related to the conclusions yet only weakly buttress the conclusions. A faulty generalization is thus produced. In spite of the danger, I am going to Read more [...]