Category Archives: religion

Reza Aslan gets it in the neck again

Poor Reza Aslan—he can’t catch a break. Although he’s gotten what he wanted: lots of favorable press and, presumably, wealth—and a new 6-part series on CNN, “Believer“—he’s still getting criticized. First he gets it from the likes of me for whitewashing religion in general and Islam in particular, and then he decides to host a TV […]

Does God answer prayers? Spectator contributors vote “yes”

Along with 12 others, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has weighed in at the Spectator, giving examples of how their prayers were answered (there are also some Village Atheists who scoff at the idea): The problem with this whole thing is that there’s no control group: no survey of whose prayers weren’t answered. It’s pure confirmation bias. The one […]

Sabbath sermon: Ricky Gervais on faith and Bill Clinton screws up a yarmulke

Instead of Readers’ Wildlife today, we’ll have a new ten-minute interview (courtesy of reader Barry) of comedian Ricky Gervais on religion. He is, of course, an atheist. And although the YouTube video is labeled “Ricky Gervais destroys religion funny interview,” there’s no humor in it: it’s a serious and thoughtful dissection of the follies of faith. I […]

Why the “nones” leave religion: US and UK getting less religious

The Pew organization, which certainly has no bias that I can detect against religion, had reanalyzed some data from its 2014 U.S. “Religious landscape study,” asking people who said they were both “nones” (those not affiliated with a church) and also had formerly been raised as church members but later abandoned that membership. The results are […]

Do we need religious education in schools?

Although the posts on this site go straight to Twi**er, and I occasionally post something else there, I don’t follow the tw**ts of others. That’s mainly for lack of time: I can’t write on this site and tw**t at the same time. But I still parasitize my friends and readers who sent me tw**ts, and […]

Gary Gutting discovers the obvious: religion can cause violence

“We may find it hard to believe that religious beliefs could motivate murders and insist that extreme violence is always due to mental instability or political fanaticism. But the logic (and the history) of religions tells against this view.”  –Gary Gutting, having an epiphany The Stone, the New York Times‘s philosophy column, is remarkably undistinguished, […]

Big Think: 3 questions will tell you how religious you’re likely to be

UPDATE:  The Gervais and Norenzayan paper mentioned here should be considered inconclusive in light of later work. Go here for the explanation under “update.” _______________ I’m not so sure that “The Big Think” (TBT)  website deserves its name, as the Thinks there are often pretty small. But this headline caught my attention (click on screenshot to […]

Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ Rectitude

The new Jesus and Mo strip is called ‘which’, and the emailed note says, “It’s the persistence of the problem of human fallibility again!” No comment is needed here. I’ll just add date from the 2013 Pew Survey in which Muslims in most Muslim-majority countries were asked a number of questions. Here are the data […]

A tweet about Islam from Hillary Clinton

This is what we’re hearing from American politicians: Note first the conflation between Muslims and Islam, which is the conflation between “criticizing religion” and “being a bigot against its adherents”. But the claim to investigate is the characterization of “peaceful and tolerant” adherents. Here are data from the 2013 Pew Survey: “Together, the surveys involved more […]

Belief in moralistic gods makes people generous—towards coreligionists

I’ve been meaning to write about this paper for some time, but it’s fallen into my backlog of 1000-odd draft posts that I almost never look at. However, I found a printout in my daypack, and so will try to describe it briefly, for the results are somewhat hard to interpret. The paper, in a January, 2016 […]