Contraception and Religious Liberty

February 20, 2012

As everyone is aware, the Catholic Church and some other religious institutions have argued that the Obama administration’s rule requiring employers to include contraceptive care within the scope of their health insurance plans violates the freedom of conscience of “individuals and organizations.”  This argument distorts the First Amendment guarantees of religious liberty and makes use of a flawed and tendentious interpretation of the concept of conscientious objection.

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Protect Zygotes and Corporations; Piss on Women

February 16, 2012

You may have noticed that in the last couple of years, there’s been an effort by some conservatives to extend rights of “personhood” to entities many of us don’t regard as persons, namely corporations and zygotes. Corporations and zygotes are not conceptually related, but, nonetheless, the extension of personhood rights to corporations may pave the way for the extension of personhood rights to zygotes. The latter action would, of course, limit the autonomy and reproductive rights of real persons, namely women.

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Mohammed Was Not a Divinely Inspired Prophet and There Is No Allah

February 09, 2012

I know for many who read this blog, this assertion is hardly startling, but it is blasphemous, at least from an Islamic perspective. In fact, it’s probably the simplest, most direct blasphemous utterance one can make regarding Islam since it denies the central tenet of that faith. I thought today would be an especially appropriate day to make this assertion in light of the troubles encountered by the journalist Hamza Kashgari in Saudi Arabia.

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Obama, the Prayer Breakfast, and Plato

February 06, 2012

Not much has been said in the atheist blogosphere about President Obama’s appearance and remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 2. Probably a couple of reasons for this. The appearance in itself is not really news. Sadly, this is just what our presidents, Democrat or Republican, do. Also, I sense that not a few atheists think Obama should be cut some slack on church-state issues—both because he’s better than any alternative (can you imagine President Gingrich?) and because some suspect that on ceremonial occasions such as the National Prayer Breakfast, he’s just going through the motions. However, having reviewed his remarks, I think they merit some comment.

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Hosanna-Tabor and the Weird Status of Religion

January 11, 2012

Today the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in the Hosanna-Tabor case that there is a “ministerial exception” to the nation’s laws forbidding discrimination in employment. The Court ruled that both religion clauses of the First Amendment—the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause—effectively provide religious institutions with absolute discretion to select their “ministers.” 

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About Free Thinking

January 06, 2012

What is the cornerstone of CFI’s mission? Is it atheism or humanism? No, not really. Commitments to atheism or humanism or any other “ism” are conclusions we arrive at, presumably after consideration of the relevant evidence and arguments. The cornerstone of our mission is freedom of expression and critical inquiry. We see freedom of expression and critical inquiry as indispensable tools for arriving at an accurate understanding of just about any issue of importance, including, but not limited to, the truth of religious or fringe science claims. This brings me to the recent controversy concerning Ben Radford’s blog post on Free Thinking, as well as the related controversy about the blog Free Thinking itself.

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“Between Consenting Adults”

January 06, 2012

Many of you have probably heard about the resignation of Catholic Bishop Gabino Zavala.  You may have heard of it without even becoming aware of it, because it is the type of news that no longer attracts special attention.  Another day, another sex scandal for the Catholic Church.  Nowadays, weather reports are likely to be more memorable.

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Plantinga’s Closing Argument

January 03, 2012

Alvin Plantinga’s latest book, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism, has received a fair amount of attention. Plantinga has even been written up in the New York Times. Having read most of his book, I will acknowledge that it confirms he is a clever polemicist. He can present a thoroughly fallacious argument with confidence, dressing it up so it appears superficially impressive.  God may not have a more skilled advocate. 

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Atheist Boosters?

December 12, 2011

CFI recently held a conference on the work of Daniel Dennett and the scientific investigation of religion. It may be the best conference I’ve ever attended. The presentations of the speakers were of uniformly high-quality—and I say that even for the speakers with whom I had some substantive disagreement. Interestingly, one such speaker was Gregory Paul, the independent researcher who has done some excellent work on the sociology of religious belief. Unfortunately, Paul seems to be in the camp of those who tend to inflate the number of atheists in the United States.

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Flogging God

November 02, 2011

The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed overwhelmingly a resolution “reaffirming” the phrase “In God We Trust” as our national motto.  The vote was 396 to 9. The need for reaffirming of this motto was not clearly stated in the resolution, but the real motivation for this resolution is both too obvious and too unseemly to warrant acknowledgment: most politicians in this God-intoxicated country want to milk God for all the votes they can get. And, from a political standpoint, who can blame them? It’s proven to be a very successful tactic.

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