Books Won't Save School Children's Lives; Drones, Just Might

I have written before about my respect for Malala Yusufzai, the Pakistani girl shot in the face by the Taliban for simply wishing to have an education. I have also said that courage and vision, of which she has plenty, do not translate into infallibility, and Malala's campaign for education and against violence, which has won her a Nobel Peace Prize, is based on extremely shaky views. The sad news from her own country today only shows how misguided the pacifist mindset is when it comes to Islamist militants.

Technically Speaking We Cannot Prove or Disprove the Existence of Trolls, Fairies or Elves


A Christmas Debate for You

A few years ago, around the time of the release of my book The Nativity: A Critical Examination, Reasonable Doubts hosted a radio podcast debate, pre-recorded, between myself and Randal Rauser. Here is the fruits of our labour, detailing the arguments for and against the historicity of the Nativity accounts. Let me know what you think:

Church Members Hoped to Beat Gay Member Straight (More News from the Bible Belt)

"Man: Parishioners beat him in church to cure homosexuality"
SPINDALE, N.C. "Five members of a Rutherford County church have been indicted by a grand jury for kidnapping and beating a man because he's gay.  
(To see the mug shots of those accused in the beating, click here.)
The five people belong to Word of Faith in Spindale, a church that has been accused of enforcing extensive control over its congregation.      
The Rutherford County Sheriff's Office said the grand jury returned the indictment this week.       
Matthew Fenner said Thursday he was beaten in the church last year after a service. He says it was part of the church's way of trying to cure him of being gay.       
Word of Faith was investigated twice in the late 1990s for its treatment of children, but was cleared of any wrongdoing.  Church leaders have not yet commented on the indictments.
Spindale is about 40 miles north of Spartanburg."

In the Bible Belt, Atheists Can Not Legally Hold Public Office

Atheist group seeks change in state constitutions
"An atheist group is challenging a line of the North and South Carolina constitutions that says people who don’t believe in God can’t hold a public office."   
New's Video Here

Peter Lik's 'Phantom' Sold for $6.5 million. Damn, Why Didn't I Do That!

Peter Lik's 'Phantom' is the most expensive photograph sold in history.

First find a spectacular cave with a hole for sunlight to shine down.

Blow a little smoke toward it.

Take a black & white picture.

Repeat until you get a cool image that would be sold for over 6 mil.

I could have done that!

Hector Avalos: Christmas TV Shows are Animated Religion

This essay appears in the Ames [Iowa] Tribune. LINK.

To Celebrate Or Not To Celebrate: When Christmas Epitomized Christian Bloodshed

Here we go again: Christian Right's Annual Whining Fest (aka, "War on Christmas") is in full swing. Except that this year, the hilarity is without precedent: our traditions are being “neutered”!
The Montgomery County Board of Education in Maryland has cut Christmas and Easter, as well as Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana, from next year's school calendar. No religious holiday will be mentioned by name. NPR reported on the origin of the decision: "The path to the board's decision started about two years ago on something that was somewhat unrelated. Members of the county's Muslim community -- roughly estimated at around 10 percent of the more than 1 million population -- were seeking to have two of their religion's holy days added to the calendar of days off. They wanted Eid al-Adha the most." Instead of adopting new religious days for Muslims, however, the board approved the removal of all Christian and Jewish religious holiday references by a 7-1 vote. The students will continue to get the same religious days off, but there will be generic references to them, such as "winter break." Board members have even gone so far as to reinterpret the historical recognition of the holidays by saying that the days off are not meant to observe those religious holidays. The board's president, Phil Kauffman, explained, "The best way to accommodate the diversity of our community is to not make choices about which communities we're going to respect in our calendar and which ones we're not going to respect." But does religious neutering accommodate diversity or merely endorse secular progressivism and political correctness as America's new religion? Choices are the very actions our Bill of Rights was created to protect. In the end, however, rather than affirm Americans' freedom of religion, society has spawned their freedom from religion. NPR reported that nearly all of the 16 districts across the country that are larger than Montgomery County Public Schools have already discarded any mention of religious holidays on their calendars.
That's not the America our Founding Fathers created for us.
The "Founding Fathers" were not creating an America where Christmas could not be publicly celebrated! Well, except for the earliest ones, who were doing precisely that. The very ones who came to the new continent for the sake of religious freedom. And not just that, but celebrating Christmas, in those days, was a sure sign that you were against them!
A bit of context would help understand how.

Quote of the Day, By Hector Avalos, and a Podcast About His Book

Avalos: "Our job as biblical scholars is to undermine the value of any scripture that endorses violence."

Dr. André Gagné and Calogero A. Miceli produce the Inquisitive Minds podcast every week, discussing issues pertaining to religion, history, culture and science. Recently they have interviewed Dr. Hector Avalos about his book Fighting Words: The Origins Of Religious Violence. In this last episode (12/8)they review Avalos' last few chapters.

Frank Zindler, in an attempt to be as "Fair and Balanced" as FOX NEWS, interviews the Rt. Rev. Madrigal Fritzlschleimer! ;-)


"The Not-So-Virgin Birth of the Christmas Story": A Response

Not only when dealing with the Virgin Birth, reality proves we have entirely no New Testament textual evidence from the very center of Roman Palestine before circa 200 CE.  What we do in fact have are early manuscripts from Hellenistic Egypt (home of the Septuagint whose Greek theology is quoted almost exclusively as New Testament proof texts) as the location of our earliest manuscripts of the Gospels whose Greek Classical culture also gave birth to the Gnostic Gospels view (theology) that the material world and all flesh is evil or, as the New Testament puts it; sinful.

The Not-So-Virgin Birth of the Christmas Story, by Valerie Tarico


Eddie Tabash's Review of the New Book by Sam Harris


Quote of the Day, By Phil Zuckerman On the Rising Secular Demographics

Phil Zuckerman is a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. He is the author of Living the Secular Life, Faith No More, and Society Without God. He has also edited several volumes, including Atheism and Secularity, Sex and Religion, and The Social Theory of W.E.B. Du Bois. Zuckerman writes a regular blog for Psychology Today titled “The Secular Life.” His work has also been published in academic journals, such as Sociology Compass, Sociology of Religion, Deviant Behavior, and Religion, Brain, and Behavior. In 2011, Zuckerman founded the first Secular Studies department in the nation. He earned his PhD in sociology from the University of Oregon in 1998. He currently lives in Claremont, California, with his wife, Stacy, and their three children.
Here is what he said recently:
The stats are staggering when it comes to people in the West who are abandoning religion. Secularism is growing in virtually all nations for which we have data; even the Muslim world, which contains the most-religious societies on earth, has a growing share of secular people (many of whom, unfortunately, must keep their secularity well hidden because of the danger of prison or death for being open about their lack of faith).
[For the full text of what Zuckerman said in an interview with Sam Harris (from which I got his bio above), see below:

My Bill Cunningham Interview Has Aired

The John W. Loftus/Bill Cunningham interview played last night on Cunningham's National Premiere Radio Networks Show. The interview starts at the 80:40 minute mark. LINK. It's also scheduled to play again on 700wlw this Friday 12/12 at 1:05 PM.

David Marshall's Challenge About Women Under Christianity

Recently I was reminded that Marshall has challenged me to debate whether Christianity has helped or hurt women:
Resolved: That the Gospel of Jesus has done more to help more women than any other teaching in the history of Planet Earth. I challenge you, John. I issue this challenge assuming that John is sincere, and because millions of other people agree with him that Christianity has harmed women terribly. LINK.
Marshall sounds just like Muslim apologists for their terrible track record against women though. I don't have to rehearse that record since Marshall agrees with me about it. But lookee here at a Muslim apologist for Women in Islam. As an outsider I see no difference between them in that both are attempting to whitewash away the facts.
Loftus also recommended three feminist books about how terrible the Bible was to me. But that's a lame response. My argument is historical, not primarily exegetical: that the Gospel of Jesus has in historical fact improved life for billions of women around the world.
Notice first, Marshall thinks that providing book references to read on this issue is lame. I'm at a loss to know what to think of this. If I were to engage him in this debate I'd be quoting from them. So why not just read them? Why is a debate needed when I can provide book references where those arguments are made by people who know the issue better than I do? Second, Marshall said these references were written by feminists, as if that discredits them as not being objective about the issue. In truth, these references come from biblical scholars and/or theologians. Third, Marshall wants to focus on Jesus in the Gospels rather than the whole of biblical revelation, or so it seems clear to me. Why exclude the Old Testament or the writings of Paul?

Quote of the Day, by Thom Stark: "You Broke It You Buy It"

[First published 7/11/12]
So the news has just broken [March 14, 2012] that a Moroccan girl has committed suicide after being ordered by a judge to marry her rapist. Now before some self-righteous Christians begin mouthing off about how unenlightened Islamic culture is, let’s go to the source:
“If a man meets a virgin who is not engaged, and forcibly seizes her and lies with her, and they are caught in the act, the man who lay with her shall give fifty shekels of silver to the young woman’s father, and she shall become his wife. Because he violated her he shall not be permitted to divorce her as long as he lives.” Deuteronomy 22:28-29.
Now this law is often decried by religion’s detractors as barbaric and misogynistic. In fact, however, this law is designed specifically with the woman’s well-being in view.
Then comes the kicker:

David Marshall's Newest Book

Christians have had different responses to the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF), probably because they don't know what to do with it. Christian apologists Norman Geisler, Victor Reppert, Thomas Talbott, Mark Hanna, Randal Rauser and Matthew Flannagan have all rejected it. David Marshall is inclined to embrace it, so I welcome that. He's agreed to shoulder the burden of proof. Now we need to hold him to that. His previous chapter on it can be found in True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism.

I'm a bit curious to see what Marshall says that might be new in his book, but I can't find it on Amazon yet. Marshall writes about it here. What I'd like to know is how Randal Rauser can reject the OTF and yet endorse Marshall's book. In any case the Arizona Atheist wrote a nice review of Marshall's chapter in "True Reason" seen here.

A lot of atheists instantly embrace the OTF since it seems so intuitively obvious. What they don't realize is how much effort it takes to defend it from believers who are impervious to reason. What I predict is that when the OTF comes up in an online forum, Christians will bring up Marshall's book, or some other one, and say I've been answered. If you as an atheist intend to use the OTF, you had better know how to defend it. So you should read how I do so in my book, The Outsider Test for Faith: How to Know Which Religion Is True.I cover every major objection to it such that neither Marshall nor anyone else can even put a dent in its armor.

Matthew J. Marohl On Joseph's Dilemma

Matthew J. Marohl's book, Joseph's Dilemma: 'Honor Killing' in the Birth Narrative of Matthew, is a very provocative one. His thesis is that whether the birth narrative in Matthew depends on a possible honor killing motif depends upon whether Joseph suspected Mary of adultery.” (pp. 23-24) He goes on to argue that the clear majority of modern interpreters think Joseph suspected Mary of adultery.” (p. 24). So Joseph’s desire to put Mary away privately when he discovered she was pregnant was not to keep her from shame, but rather to defend him and his family’s honor.
If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then turns against her, 14 and charges her with shameful deeds and publicly defames her, and says, ‘I took this woman, but when I came near her, I did not find her a virgin,’ 15 then the girl’s father and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of the girl’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate. 16 "And the girl’s father shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man for a wife, but he turned against her; 17 and behold, he has charged her with shameful deeds, saying, "I did not find your daughter a virgin." But this is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the garment before the elders of the city. 18 "So the elders of that city shall take the man and chastise him, 19 and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give it to the girl’s father, because he publicly defamed a virgin of Israel. And she shall remain his wife; he cannot divorce her all his days. 20 "But if this charge is true, that the girl was not found a virgin, 21 then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel, by playing the harlot in her father’s house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you. (Deut. 22:13-21).
If a priest’s daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in the fire (Leviticus 21:9)

"And he that curses his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death. (Exodus 21:17)"

"For every one that curses his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him. (Leviticus 20:9)"

John W. Loftus Giveaway!?

"Religious Liars" will be giving away a copy of my most recent book, “Christianity is Not Great: How Faith Fails.” Sign in to enter. The site is run by David Johnson.
He has been an active humanist for nearly 20 years. Raised in a fundamentalist Christian home, he regularly questioned the role of religious beliefs in the routines of daily living. Having seen that religious beliefs were simply a byproduct of divisive, tribal mentality, he began actively engaging believers of various religions in an effort to disabuse them of their faith in favor of humanism, reason, and knowledge.

Gregory Dawes On The Philosophy Of Religion

Gregory Dawes is a philosopher and author of the excellent book, Theism and Explanation.Richard Marshall interviews him and introduces it with this:
Greg Dawes is a philosopher who always thinks hard about religion, about the nature of religious faith and its relation to reason, about why philosophy as a handmaid of theology is frivolous, about naturalism, about the epistemological variety and the ontological variety and the methodological variety, on why Christians can’t avoid the fact that Evolutionism contradicts the Bible, about what’s wrong with intelligent design, on what theologians should do, about why belief isn’t an issue and inference to the best explanation is, about claims about divine action, about the God of the gaps, about historicism and religion and about Maimonides and the limits to interpretation. Don’t be fooled, this one’s got razors…
I was particularly interested in what Dawes said about the philosophy of religion. The money quote is below:

Two contributors to Christianity Is Not Great in interview

Myself, Jonathan MS Pearce, and author James A. Lindsay were both involved in contributing chapters to John's recent excellent addition to his growing number of titles. Last night I interviewed James on the subject of his second book, Dot, Dot, Dot Infinity Plus God Equals Folly. His book looks from a mathematical and philosophical angle of the notion of infinity and sees how well it fares in being applied, as is often the case, to God. Problems for the God-idea ensue. Well worth reading, the book features a foreword from the late, great Vic Stenger. During the interview, we get on to the subject of CING and touch on different atheistic ideas and areas of religion, including the psychology of religion.

"It's Not the Islamic Religion, It's Their Culture, Stupid!"

That's the song and dance we're hearing quite a bit from the well-intentioned liberals. They think that since Islamic religion can be used to justify so many different actions, therefore Islamic religion isn't a factor in Muslim violence. Okay then, let me ask them some potentially tough questions intended to bring out the inconsistency of that position. Would you also say the same thing about Christianity, that it has never caused harm, nor does it now? Conversely, would you be willing to say Islam and Christianity never do any good? You cannot say the one thing without also saying the other. Can the introduction of religious ideas ever change converts to do and say things they would never do and say without the introduction of that religion? Moreover, does a conversion to a religion change anything at all in a person's beliefs? Lastly, is there any content to religion at all?

Gallop Poll: 21% Say the Bible is An Ancient Book of Fables

LINK. Conservative fundamentalists are losing this war.

Hemant Metha's List of the Best Atheist Books of 2014

My anthology "Christianity is Not Great" made his list. One wonders what his standards were for choosing them, but it's nice to be listed. LINK.

Ronald Lindsay On "Moses, Jesus, Mohammed and Company: The Critical Problem with the Prophet System"

Of the Exodus story he says: "It's a heroic myth not dissimilar to Greek or Roman stories about Heracles, Aeneas, or other heroes. If you're willing to believe that God would slaughter thousands of innocent children to punish a ruler for his decisions, then you're probably inclined to accept a plague of frogs." LINK.

An Older Review of My Book WIBA That I Had Missed

LINK. Full text below:

It's Cyber Monday!

There is one painless way you can help support my efforts here at DC. Buy something, anything off Usually I get about a 7% kickback. It helps. Thanks. I've been a bit sick the last few days but I'm coming back with righteous indignation. ;-)

The Full Text of Robert G. Ingersoll's "A Thanksgiving Sermon"

I used an excerpt of this sermon in Christianity Is Not Great: How Faith Fails.Here is the sermon. Full text below:

If you want to get rich, you start a religion.” L. Ron Hubbard

L. Ron Hubbard

HBO Has Hired 160 Lawyers in Anticipation of Their New Scientology Documentary

HBO is producing a new documentary on the Church of Scientology so explosive that the network has been forced to hire legal back up. "We have probably 160 lawyers (looking at the film)," HBO Documentary Films president Sheila Nevins tells The Hollywood Reporter."

Have a Happy Thanksgiving Day!


Through Atheist Eyes with Frank Zindler: Books By John Loftus


Bertrand Russell's Ten Commandments