Saturday, October 18, 2014

On the Humanity of Humans

Dave Duffy read Richard Dawkins' letter to his daughter on the occasion of her tenth birthday, and was saddened by it.  He asks me if I can help him out (provided, of course, that I have the humanity to carry on a conversation).  This is what he had to say:
my reaction (other than being impressed by his English skills), is one of sadness. I wonder if there is some atheist’s equivalent to Christian community for his daughter. Reflecting on a few of my experiences with my daughter: was there a group of ladies that brought over home-cooked meals for a couple of weeks to her mother after she was born while delivering experienced advice about newborns, some advice helpful, some politely dismissed. What about being ten years old and helping out adults on Sunday mornings and Tuesday evenings with rambunctious preschoolers, keeping them occupied while their parents had the opportunity to talk and study with other adults. Is there some atheist’s equivalent to Youth Group where she can sit around, eat pizza and talk with peers about avoiding the ruinous impulses of the current cultural malaise? Is there something like a high-school short term missions to impoverished countries to give some perspective and avoid being another self-absorbed teen? And most important, I don’t understand denying someone a place where God can make Himself known.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Political Rant: Republicans Are Dangerous to Your Health

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), millions of Americans who were previously unable to obtain it, now have healthcare insurance.  This despite the utter lack of support from Republicans, who voted uniformly against it, and who have voted to repeal it more than fifty times.

It turns out that allowing Americans to have access to healthcare is good for us in a number of ways. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Follow-up on the Cult of Victor Strikes Again

Victor Reppert has replied to my earlier post, where I claimed that he misrepresented the words of Victor Stenger.
What I implied, I-S, is that Stenger has a motivation for using force to suppress religious belief, not that he has an advocated using it. Christianity doesn't teach that violence should be used to suppress opposing beliefs, but it is quite true that people who think that there is a great deal of stake in maintaining a particular religion have a motive for using force if the opportunity presents itself.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Biblical Modifications Series: The Shepherd of Hermas

This is the first of a series of posts on changes to the bible.  I hope to discuss significant changes that have been made to biblical texts or the canon during the course of history, and the reasons behind those changes.  Please note that I am not a historian or a biblical scholar.  I base my information on what I have been able to learn from my own (admittedly non-scholarly) internet-based research efforts.  I try not to depend on dubious sources, but if I get some facts wrong, I would appreciate corrections.

This post is about one of the "lost scriptures" of the New Testament: the Shepherd of Hermas.  This book presents one of the best accounts of early Christian ethics and morality.  It is believed to be written in the mid second century, and its authorship remains in doubt, but is often attributed to Hermas, the brother of Pius I, Bishop of Rome, during the time of the Christian persecution.