Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

A Tao For One


(FTB stderr) – Marcus Ranum:

So I come to The Tao. There are assertions in the Tao Te Ching, and surrounding it – unsupported assertions. Assertion: it was written by a really smart guy one day. Assertion: there is a “balance” to life and it’s all very nebulous and it does not appear to be a real ‘thing’ so much as it’s an emergent property of all the things. Assertion: we know wisdom when we encounter it. I’ve met people who interpret The Tao as everything ranging from Dharma/Karma to the Universe or conservation laws. I’m willing to keep it at the newtonian action/reaction level, which is pretty Taoist, if you think about it. …

stderr tao-for-one

Statue of Lao Tze

My Deconversion, Part 1


(Patheos::Excommunications) – Rita Forbes:

Where do I start? It’s hard for me to even pinpoint exactly where my deconversion started. I can’t land on an exact day or moment that I can say was pivotal in starting to change my worldview. But I do remember the first thought I had which showed things were not okay: “How can we be so confident we are right?” …

excommunications 2017/04 questioning 1


Evidence for Jesus is Weaker than You Might Think


( – Valerie Tarico:

Before the European Enlightenment, virtually all New Testament experts assumed that handed-down stories about Jesus were first recorded by eye witnesses and were largely biographical. That is no longer the case.

Assuming that the Jesus stories had their beginnings in one single person rather than a composite of several — or even in mythology itself — he probably was a wandering Jewish teacher in Roman-occupied Judea who offended the authorities and was executed. Beyond that, any knowledge about the figure at the center of the Christian religion is remarkably open to debate (and vigorously debated among relevant scholars). …

valerietarico 2017/04/13 evidence

Easter Facts, Quotes and a Quiz For You!


(ExChristian) – Daniel B. Curran Jr.:

The Bible is the infallible, divinely-inspired word of God, right? The entire Christian religion is based on the resurrection of the Christ – so we know that part of the Good Book will be very accurate! The very crux of the argument for Christianity being the one true religion is that it is the only religion in which the Saviour actually rose from the dead to fulfill prophecy – so let’s have a little fun. …

exchristian easter-facts

What if Jesus Never Existed?


( – Valerie Tarico:

Outsiders can debate all they want, but Christians need to believe that Jesus was real, and defenders of the faith line up a series of proofs that they claim settle the question. Now David Fitzgerald has produced a three-volume set, Jesus: Mything in Action, in which he tackles those proofs one by one and then lays out how Christianity could have emerged even in the absence of a historical Jesus. …

valerietarico 2017/04/12 what-if

David Fitzgerald: Jesus: Mything in Action

History, Probability, and Miracles


(Κέλσος) – Matthew W. Ferguson:

As I discuss in my article “When Do Contemporary or Early Sources Matter in Ancient History,” all of our knowledge of the historical Jesus (including the reports of his resurrection) comes down through ancient texts. There is absolutely no archeological evidence at all for Jesus. None of the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection can be tested by the methods of forensic science (though, a similar event could still hypothetically be recorded by forensic science today, despite there being no evidence of such a thing). Furthermore, we have no eyewitness sources for Jesus of any kind (discussed here) and all of the textual sources that discuss his resurrection are not historical in their genre (discussed here). Instead, all we have for investigating Jesus’ resurrection is religious scripture (particularly biased Christian scriptures), which is far from our most reliable kind of evidence. Likewise, as is shown with the example of Tacitus’ phoenix above, historians cannot take paranormal reports in such ancient texts at face value, without consideration of broader scientific background knowledge.

Instead, a method is needed that can situate these claims within our broader background knowledge of the world, in order to determine the likelihood of whether such events could have really taken place within it.  …

celsus history-probability-and-miracles

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Colbert discuss whether God exists


(FTB) – Mano Singham:

Such theological discussions with controversial points of view are not the usual stuff of late-night TV talk shows, and it is interesting that Stephen Colbert was willing to explore such an issue with Ricky Gervais. …

singham 2017/04/12 whether-god-exists

Introduction to Meslier


(FTB stderr) – Marcus Ranum:

It must have been very painful for Meslier to have this stuff in his head and be part of the machinery of religious exploitation.

“Thus man was, and always remained, a child without experience, a slave without courage, a loggerhead who feared to reason, and who could never escape from the labyrinth into which his ancestors had misled him; he felt compelled to groan under the yoke of his Gods, of whom he knew nothing except the fabulous accounts of their ministers.”

That was written by a minister. He must have been racked with pain and shame and embarrassment, and chose to keep it secret his whole life. …

stderr meslier-introduction

Jean Meslier

Enough Faith


(Atheist Pig) – “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.” …

theatheistpig enough-faith

The Atheist Pig: Enough Faith

Religious Discrimination


(Atlantic Politics) – Emma Green:

Pollsters at the Public Religion Research Institute have asked Americans about their impressions of discrimination in the United States. Two religious groups were included on the list of those who might face bias: Christians and Muslims. Depending on who was answering, the responses were wildly different. …

theatlantic 2017/03 519135

Vigil for victims of Pulse nightclub shooting