In the Name

I apologize for the lengthy interval since my last post–with the proviso that there will probably be just as long an interval before the next one.  Ordinary life calls, I have children, and so on, plus I have been bitten by the novel-writing bug yet again.  But, since I don’t have access to my novel-writing PC right now, I might as well do my duty here, right?

Since I’m feeling lazy, I’ll tackle another of the internet’s common attacks on religion: the argument from atrocity.  Here I mean extra-biblical atrocities: certain incidents from the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, various pogroms, the Thirty Years’ War, etc.  Those weird little bits from the dusty back corners of the Pentateuch, which all go something like, “And the Lord commanded Jerushaphat to slay seven and fifty of the Edomites, together with their wives, and their children, their slaves, and the slaves of their children, the children of their slaves, the children of their slaves’ children, and their oxen, and their sheep, and the sheep of their neighbors, but not the sheep of their neighbors’ slaves, etc.”–well, those are a different matter, which I will probably not bother over, because those bits are only ever read by infidels with chips on their shoulders, and these days said infidels tend to focus more on obscure anecdotes from the Koran.  Also, it’s not clear whether any of the early Biblical atrocity anecdotes ever even happened. Continue reading


The Jesus Ghetto

Religion in the United States isn’t doing so hot; study after study finds “unaffiliated” to be the fastest-growing religious belief here, especially among young people like (technically, sorta) myself.  And there’s been plenty of hand-wringing about it too, on site after site.  But I’ve never seen an honest attempt to understand just why this happened, from a religious or specifically Christian point of view: what went wrong?  This is puzzling to me, because in retrospect, it seems rather obvious.  We asked for this.

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A Shameful Display

Don’t have much free time to type gigantic blog posts this week, so here’s something I wrote a while ago.  Probably more polished anyway.

It’s one of the perverse ironies of modern life that Americans, living in the most individualistic society on earth, tend to be deeply uncomfortable with the actual exercise of free speech. Not openly, of course; in terms of legal accommodation, we’ll go to astonishing lengths to preserve the outward form of tolerance, to the point where a significant percentage of us thought it was in some sense wrong to keep the late Fred Phelps and his “church” from picketing the funerals of soldiers and politicians for free publicity. Continue reading

An Addendum

. . . to yesterday’s post, since I likely won’t have time to write a substantial post today.  I left off a final point: that atheism, or naturalism, not only does not require any advanced science to support it–the ancient world had plenty of nontheistic philosophies, like the Stoics and (alas) the original Cynics–but is likely more ancient than theism, or even belief in the supernatural as such.

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