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Atheism

Peter Boghossian accused of hate speech for correctly defining “faith”

February 2, 2016

Photo credit: Jerry Coyne/Oxford English Dictionary By Jerry Coyne I’m not quite sure who “James Bishop” is, as I hadn’t heard of him previously, but he writes at the website Historical Jesus Studies, and the header of his public Facebook page is strange. Has anyone else described their official position as “apologist”? What brought Bishop to my attention was his bizarre article called “Answering Peter Boghosssian—atheist hate & the definition of faith.” And I want to say a few words about it because, although the piece is abysmally written, it appears to support a criticism leveled at many atheists, and at me in particular: namely, our conception of the nature of “faith” is completely off the rails. Moreover, Bishop goes farther, saying that those who use the classical conception of faith are promoting hate speech. I’ve been told by some believers, especially after Faith versus Fact came out, that religious “faith” does not mean “belief in the absence of evidence”, or “pretending to believe something”, but is much more than that. What the “much more” constitutes is often unspecified, but Bishop appears to tout something called “evidence-based faith”. That apparently means “religious belief based on evidence”. In other words, it’s like science. In fact, Bishop argues that there’s no substantive difference between the nature of scientific “belief” (I don’t like to use that term for science) and religious belief. The good thing about Bishop’s admission is that, since he claims there’s evidence supporting his Christianity, we can now engage him in a debate about the nature and strength of that evidence—in other words, a scientific debate. He also clarifies, as have some other Christians, that belief really is about evidence—that religion is more than just communality, fellowship, values, and morality, but, to be meaningful, must at bottom rest on verifiable epistemic claims. Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below. [MORE]

‘Royal wedding’ of atheist group, Richard Dawkins Foundation launches woman to top post

January 26, 2016

by Kimberly Winston (RNS) It’s like a royal wedding in the small world of atheist organizations: The Center for Inquiry and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science are merging to form the largest reason-based organization in the U.S. The new organization will retain the Center for Inquiry name, while giving a seat on its board to Richard Dawkins, the British evolutionary biologist who is a superstar in the atheist community for his best-selling books on atheism and science and his outspoken talks against religion. As part of the merger, Ron Lindsay, a lawyer who has headed CFI since 2008 — and shepherded the Amherst, N.Y.-based organization through a difficult and controversial transition from its founder, humanist philosopher Paul Kurtz — will step down. Taking his spot will be Robyn Blumner, the Dawkins Foundation’s executive director for the past two years. “I hope and I believe that this merger will significantly enhance the impact of CFI’s work, and, as a result, will also further some of the common goals of the secular movement, such as keeping religion out of public policy and reducing the stigma associated with being an atheist or humanist, which is still all too prevalent in the United States,” Lindsay said in an email interview. Blumner, who is based in Washington, D.C., said in a statement: “Secularism is on the ascendency in the United States and beyond. Science has proven to be the engine of human progress. Bringing more resources and ambition to promoting these forces of reason is what this merger is about.” It is not clear yet how the merger will affect the British branch of the Richard Dawkins Foundation, which operates a separate entity, Lindsay said. CFI, meanwhile, has 21 international branches or representatives, from Canada to Pakistan to Zambia, giving the Dawkins Foundation a more international scope.   Read more by clicking on the name of the source below. [MORE]

An Unkillable Myth About Atheists

January 23, 2016

Photo credit: Mark Poprocki/iStockphoto By Barbara J. King In his new book, The Big Question: Why We Can’t Stop Talking About Science, Faith and God, Alister McGrath argues that “we need more than science to satisfy our deep yearnings and intuitions.” That something more for McGrath is God, specifically, the Christian God. As he develops this argument, again and again McGrath characterizes atheists who embrace science but not God as stuck in a place devoid of full understanding or meaning. There’s a “richness” in the Christian engagement with nature that atheists miss, for example. McGrath understands the foundational atheist perspective to be this: “Since science discloses no meaning to the universe, the only reasonable conclusion is that there is no meaning to find.” Here, yet again, is the unkillable myth, the persistent blind spot about atheism that apparently no amount of explaining can make go away. No matter how lucidly atheists explain in books, essays and blog posts that, yes, life can and does for us have meaning without God, the tsunami of claims about atheists’ arid existence rolls on and on. Where does this persistent (is it also willful?) misunderstanding come from? Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below. [MORE]

An Unkillable Myth About Atheists

January 23, 2016

Photo credit: Mark Poprocki/iStockphoto By Barbara J. King In his new book, The Big Question: Why We Can’t Stop Talking About Science, Faith and God, Alister McGrath argues that “we need more than science to satisfy our deep yearnings and intuitions.” That something more for McGrath is God, specifically, the Christian God. As he develops this argument, again and again McGrath characterizes atheists who embrace science but not God as stuck in a place devoid of full understanding or meaning. There’s a “richness” in the Christian engagement with nature that atheists miss, for example. McGrath understands the foundational atheist perspective to be this: “Since science discloses no meaning to the universe, the only reasonable conclusion is that there is no meaning to find.” Here, yet again, is the unkillable myth, the persistent blind spot about atheism that apparently no amount of explaining can make go away. No matter how lucidly atheists explain in books, essays and blog posts that, yes, life can and does for us have meaning without God, the tsunami of claims about atheists’ arid existence rolls on and on. Where does this persistent (is it also willful?) misunderstanding come from? Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below. [MORE]

A Burmese atheist who takes inspiration from George Carlin and Bart Simpson

January 19, 2016

Photo Credit: Naomi Gingold By Naomi Gingold When Kyaw Moe Khine was in 9th grade, he told his parents that he was an atheist. His parents didn’t quite get it, he says. They didn’t even know what atheism meant. Kyaw Moe Khine, who goes by the name “Bart,” is from Myanmar, frequently referred to as Burma, and it’s a pretty religious place. Most Burmese are Theravada Buddhists, but there are also plenty of religious minorities that have been there for centuries, from Catholics to Muslims of diverse origins all over the country. Bart says now that he’s 19, his mom knows about atheism, but she still hasn’t come to terms with his new “faith.” Occasionally she still says things to him like, “You’re going to burn in hell! Allah’s going to punish you!” He laughs: “Yeah. She says stuff like that.” Bart was raised Muslim, but even as a kid he questioned everything: in Islam and the Quran, and in the Buddhism around him. He even read the Bible to see what it had to offer. But he says in all of these faiths, people seemed as if they were just robotically following rules, mostly out of fear; and the rules didn’t make sense in the modern world. He did find some kindred spirits, though. “When you read people like [Friedrich] Nietzsche or when you listen to people like George Carlin, they’re really making a point. And those books are not!” Yes, the George Carlin, who regularly ranted about religion as “utter bulls—.” Bart wholeheartedly agrees with that. The first time Bart deliberately broke a religious rule he described the feeling as “emancipating.” So he kept going. As you might have guessed, Bart takes his name from the cartoon character, Bart Simpson. And like his namesake, the Burmese Bart has always had a rebellious streak. It started when he was young. He liked to draw — a lot. (He’s now an artist.) And he was always getting in trouble at school for drawing in books, in class. Teachers would confiscate his drawing pads; sometimes he would steal them back. It was a constant battle, he says. “That’s where the rebellious nature came from, I guess. The more they me busted me, the more I would react. It became bigger and bigger; from school to religion,” Bart says. There was something else pivotal in Bart’s experience growing up in Yangon, Burma’s main city. “In school they would treat Muslim kids differently,” he says. “The teachers and even the kids, they would bully kids. I got bullied for being Muslim.” While there’s long been anti-Muslim discrimination in the Myanmar, recently, it’s climbed to almost a fever pitch with the growing strength of the Ma Ba Tha, a group of extremist Buddhist monks who’ve been preaching anti-Muslim rhetoric. There are even new laws prohibiting interfaith marriages, laws primarily enacted to target Muslims. And the Muslim Rohingya population in the West have faced severe persecution. Bart, himself, has plenty of Buddhist and Christian friends and has for years. But it all made him wonder, “Why am I Muslim and most people are Buddhists? That’s the question. Why am I different — in a way that’s not… good?” Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.   [MORE]

Mother dies from cancer, leaves hilarious (and foul) letter to her family

January 15, 2016

Photo credit: GoFundMe by Tribune Media Wire MCFARLAND, Wisc. — A 36-year-old mom who passed away earlier this week from cancer left a hilarious and emotional letter to her family — and her husband is sharing her last words with the world. Heather McManamy’s letter to her family is smart, funny, and littered with a few curse words. Her husband shared the letter on Facebook, where it has been shared over 5,000 times. Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below. [MORE]
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