Pope Francis Attacks Free Speech

The Pope defends freedom of speech but says, "You cannot make fun of the faith of others," according to the Guardian. Overall, Pope Francis has been a huge improvement over the last pope, but he has come out completely on the wrong side of this issue. Making fun of religious faith is easy. It's s rich target. It is also legally permitted in most places, as it should be. It is also a longstanding tradition of most faiths, including Christianity and Judaism, to mock the faith of others. (See 1 Kings Read more [...]
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This is Not the Prophet Muhammad

(Update below) I have to admit I don't quite understand why some religious people get upset by what they consider to be forbidden images of their gods or other holy beings; Muslims in particular, regarding likenesses of the Prophet Muhammad. Especially in the case of cartoons, how can they be sure who is being depicted? Do they not realize that an image is not the actual thing, or are they just looking for an excuse to vent? I have recently been enlightened as to Islamic doctrine on the portrayal Read more [...]
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Je Suis Charlie

The Slate headline reads: News Outlets Are Censoring Images of Cartoons That May Have Incited Charlie Hebdo Attack. Whatever else we say, I insist that what incited that attack was not humorous cartoons, but a perverted religious faith. The sadly deluded individuals who perpetrated this crime were motivated by hatred and fear, not devotion. They did not avenge the Prophet Mohammed, they raped him. Anything that is good in the religion of Islam can only be harmed by this kind of criminal activity, Read more [...]
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Atheist Morality

I don't cheat on my tax forms. That doesn't make me a person of high moral standing; it could just mean I don't want to get penalized for breaking the law. So, do I have an atheist morality? I have been criticized for being a goody two-shoes for declining to enter false information on official forms. I have many reasons for trying to comply with the requirements. Not getting caught in a felony is one, of course. Lack of any substantial benefit is another. Think about it. If I am going to commit Read more [...]
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Ark Encounter

If you have been following the adventures of the Ark Encounter, you know that it is a profit-making venture of Answers in Genesis (AIG), organized to build and operate a construction (I can't bring myself to say "reconstruction") of what Noah's ark is supposed to have been like, according to the account in the Old Testament. I would guess this is intended as a kind of educational tourist attraction. “See, this is how the LORD fit those dinosaurs into the Ark.” I think it's a great idea. In Read more [...]
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Pro-Life and Pro-Choice

I posted this in 2009, back when I still considered myself a Christian. My views on this subject are pretty much the same now. "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." Jeremiah 1:5. I am pro-life. Of course I am, everyone is pro-life. Who do you know who is pro-death? Specifically, I am pro-life because I do not know when human life begins. I know it does not begin at the moment of conception, because I believe in God. Why would God start all those lives at conception, then flush Read more [...]
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Ghost Story

I like a good ghost story. I like the idea of an eternal “life force” that can survive after a person physically dies. It makes a good story to imagine that the life force can disconnect from a living person and be held prisoner in a bottle, or that it can move through time and space to encounter other insubstantial beings. It is a useful literary device that complicates the plot while maintaining continuity. Without that life force to pull things together, it might become apparent that the author Read more [...]
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Meta Writing

Meta writing is writing about writing, so this sentence is meta meta writing. The rest of this article will not be writing about writing about writing, just writing about writing. If your brain doesn't hurt, you may continue reading. They say that if you can do anything other than write, then don't write; to be a writer you must be compelled, you must have no choice but to express the ideas that well up in you like a fountain. That has been said of other professions as well. It may be a useful Read more [...]
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Creation Paradox

Let us leave aside, for the moment, the question of benevolence, and whether it is a quality of whatever creator god may exist. We can focus on just two of this purported god's qualities, omnipotence and omniscience. If he, she, or it* created the universe, and has all power that can be had and knows everything that can be known, then we run into a problem, the creation paradox. If God were a conscious being who decided to create the universe, then prior to deciding that, he must have been in Read more [...]
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Global Warming Alarmist

Though I have been called an "alarmist", I am not. I am more of a Pollyanna; I tend to be overly optimistic about coming events. I am usually the one to say, "It'll be fine; don't worry." Yet in the case of climate change, I am concerned that we are behaving badly, and it is generating some nasty karma.* So I try to convince everyone to start taking action based on the best available scientific evidence. My position is clear, as can be determined by a quick scan of my posts on the environment. Read more [...]
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