A Problem of Persuasion
By Damon Linker
If Bill Maher and his fellow “new atheists” want to be effective, they need to stop preaching to the choir.
Asking the right God question
By Gregory Rodriguez
The debate between faith and atheism leaves too little room for figuring out why humans believe.
Blinded by a divine light
By Harry Kroto
Creationists such as the Rev Reiss don’t have the intellectual integrity to teach science
What’s Your Blick? God or Science?
by Jacques Berlinerblau
A Catholic philosopher attempts a dialogue with the New Atheists.
Sad Brain, Happy Brain
Michael Craig Miller, M.D.
What cognitive neuroscience is uncovering about the fascinating biology behind our most complex feelings. As it turns out, love really is blind.
By Steven Weinberg
In his celebrated 1837 Phi Beta Kappa Oration at Harvard, titled “The American Scholar,” Ralph Waldo Emerson predicted that a day would come when America would end what he called “our long apprenticeship to the learning of other lands.” His prediction came true in the twentieth century, and in no area of learning more so than in science. This surely would have pleased Emerson. When he listed his heroes he would generally include Copernicus and Galileo and Newton along with Socrates and Jesus and Swedenborg. But I think that Emerson would have had mixed feelings about one consequence of the advance of science here and abroad—that it has led to a widespread weakening of religious belief.
McCain comes out punching
The Republican used the first presidential forum to try out his debate tactics against Obama: hit hard and fast
By David Skeel
Recently a friend assured me that a book by a well-known evangelical Christian was the new “Mere Christianity.” For an evangelical this possibly cryptic statement needs no explanation. As evangelicals, we are called to evangelize—to share the good news about Jesus Christ. Most of us also are surrounded by friends and co-workers who may be curious about our beliefs. And for over 55 years, Christians have turned to C.S. Lewis’s little book “Mere Christianity” for both of these reasons.
Holiday in Hellmouth
by James Wood
God may be dead, but the question of why he permits suffering lives on.
By Pico Iyer
It is not answers that pull many people into the religious life, it is questions. The person who lives deeply and enduringly with, and within, a religion often finds that he is surrounded by ever more doubts as he goes on, not convictions. In an eloquent monk like Thomas Merton, the religious impulse is almost always fired by a kind of holy restlessness, as if each time the traveler ascends a peak, he sees nothing but the larger peaks that now confront him. “Our knowledge,” as Isaac Bashevis Singer put it, “is a little island in a great ocean of non-knowledge.” Religion is in that regard like that other affair of the spirit and the heart, marriage. I may know my partner inside out, her habits and her gestures, and yet the more I see of her, the more I have to acknowledge how much will always lie beyond my reckoning—and in that very space of unknowing, my hunger for a continuing relationship may be quickened.
Too Much Faith in Faith
By Alan Jacobs
If there is one agreed-upon point in the current war of words about religion, it is that religion is a very powerful force. Perhaps you believe, with that vigorous atheist Christopher Hitchens, that “religion poisons everything”; or, with the Christian historian and sociologist Rodney Stark, that religion created modern science and ended slavery. Or, like a significant majority of the British public recently polled by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, that religion is a “social evil,” a “cause of conflict and confusion.” But in any case you’re likely to think that, for good or ill, the sheer impact of religion is enormous.
Don’t write off religion just yet
By John Gray
A glance at the longer sweep of history shows this Enlightenment view to be misguided. Doubt has been an integral part of religion at least since the Book of Job, while science has often gone with credulity. The doctrines of dialectical materialism and “scientific racism” promoted by communists and Nazis, respectively, during the 20th century were as irrational as anything in the history of religion. Yet in the 20th century, millions of people embraced these pernicious ideologies as scientific truth.
Perceiving 2 Fallacies, a Secularist Faults His Fellows
By Peter Steinfels
Austin Dacey is a philosopher by training and an active secularist not only by conviction but by profession as well: He is a representative at the United Nations for the secularist Center for Inquiry.
If God Is Dead, Who Gets His House?
By Sean McManus
The fastest-growing faith in America is no faith at all. And now some atheists think they need a church.
For those touched most by 9/11, a turning point in faith
By Rick Hampson
NEW YORK — The pope’s pilgrimage to the site of the World Trade Center revives a question asked by many of those traumatized by the terrorist attacks, including the faithful, the faithless and those in between: Where was God on Sept. 11, 2001?
Novelist’s Crash Course on Terror
By Michiko Kakutani
In one of these chuckleheaded essays about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Martin Amis complains about the use of the shorthand 9/11: “My principal objection to the numbers is that they are numbers,” he writes in “The Second Plane.” “The solecism, that is to say, is not grammatical but moral-aesthetic — an offense against decorum; and decorum means ‘seemliness,’ which comes from soemr, ‘fitting,’ and soema, ‘to honor.’ 9/11, 7/7: who or what decided that particular acts of slaughter, particular whirlwinds of plasma and body parts, in which a random sample of the innocent is killed, maimed, or otherwise crippled in body and mind, deserve a numerical shorthand? Whom does this ‘honor’? What makes this ‘fitting’?”
Finding the Voices of Moderate Islam
John McCain recently reminded Americans that the great strategic challenge facing the West—and, indeed, the civilized world—is extremist Islam. And more important than any martial aspect of that threat, he said, is the ideological struggle between moderate and extremist understandings of Islam.
Adam’s Maxim and Spinoza’s Conjecture
By Michael Shermer
Belief, disbelief and uncertainty generate different neural pathways in the brain
The atheist delusion
By John Gray
‘Opposition to religion occupies the high ground, intellectually and morally,’ wrote Martin Amis recently. Over the past few years, leading writers and thinkers have published bestselling tracts against God. John Gray on why the ‘secular fundamentalists’ have got it all wrong
Why I Write These Columns
By Stanley Fish
Every once in a while I feel that it might be helpful to readers if I explained what it is I am trying to do in these columns. It is easier to state the negative: For the most part, it is not my purpose in this space to urge positions, or come down on one side or the other of a controversial question. Of course, I do those things occasionally and sometimes inadvertently, but more often than not I am analyzing arguments rather than making them; or, to be more precise, I am making arguments about arguments, especially ones I find incoherent or insufficiently examined.
Amis and Islam
By Rachel Donadio
“I’m a passionate multiracialist and a very poor multiculturalist,” Martin Amis said a few weeks ago. He was on the phone from London, praising his hometown’s ethnic variety — “It’s exhilarating and moving to live in a city with so many races and so many colors” — and denouncing its fissures, particularly over radical Islam. “I don’t think that we can accommodate cultures and ideologies that make life very difficult for half the human race: women.” Amis was explaining his stance in a gloves-off row that’s been raging in the British press since last fall, when the literary theorist Terry Eagleton likened some of Amis’s statements on Muslims to “the ramblings of a British National Party thug.”
In Defense of God
by Lori Smith
Atheist bestsellers have spurred on protectors of the faith.
A Neurology of Belief
By Oliver Sacks and Joy Hirsch
On Religion: A Pragmatist and a Lobbyist on Atheism
By Samuel G. Freedman
As represented in print by best-selling authors like Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, atheism has lately mounted an in-your-face attack not simply on religion’s influence on public policy, but on belief itself.
Prime Roller, Prepare to Meet a Wiseacre
By Michiko Kakutani
Sam Harris’s 2004 book, “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason,” set off a noisy boomlet of antireligion books, including Richard Dawkins’s provocative if preachy tome, “The God Delusion” (2006), and Christopher Hitchens’s furious (and often very funny) jeremiad, “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” (2007). These books provided a vehement response to the growing influence of evangelicals in American politics and the raging fires of fundamentalism around the world, and they even led to talk about the stirrings of a “new atheist” movement.
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