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‘Heaven Is For Real’ Review: A Hit for Skeptics, A Miss for Believers

heaven-is-for-real[1]Heaven is for Real tells the story of the small town Nebraskan Burpo family whose 4-year-old son Colton has a near-death experience where he visits heaven and meets Jesus. The unraveling of this majestic vision is documented in the film, but it doesn’t seem to be the main focus. Instead, the movie makers chose to deviate from stressing the vision, and decided rather to show the day-to-day life of the Burpo family and how they balanced church, work and bills with their son’s experience. [Read more]

10 Things Jesus Wasn’t

Jesus[1]In honor of Easter Sunday, let’s set the record straight on 10 things Jesus did not do and was not: 1. Jesus did not come to set up a new religion and rule system to make people feel bad about themselves. In fact, Jesus continually challenged the religious institutions. Jesus set up a new reality, the Kingdom of God, and the kingdom is all about love, community and restoration with God…not religion. Religion has a way of separating us from God, Jesus is interested in reconciling our picture of and connection to God. [Read more]

Poll: Big Bang a Big Question for Most Americans

460x[1]While scientists believe the universe began with a Big Bang, most Americans put a big question mark on the concept, an Associated Press-GfK poll found. Yet when it comes to smoking causing cancer or that a genetic code determines who we are, the doubts disappear. When considering concepts scientists consider truths, Americans have more skepticism than confidence in those that are farther away from our bodies in scope and time: global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and especially the Big Bang from 13.8 billion years ago. Rather than quizzing scientific knowledge, the survey asked people to rate their confidence in several statements about science and medicine. [Read more]

NJ woman’s Rejected Atheist License Plate Violates First Amendment, Lawsuit Argues

14723486-mmmain[1]A Cumberland County woman argues that the state Motor Vehicle Commission’s alleged denial of issuing an “8THEIST” license plate violated her First Amendment rights, according to a lawsuit filed on Thursday. Shannon Morgan, of the Leesburg section in Maurice River Township, identifies herself as an atheist, according to the lawsuit, and attempted to personalize her license plate to read “8THEIST.” “There is nothing offensive about being atheist,” Morgan said. “I should be able to express my sincerely held beliefs with a license plate just like everyone else.” The lawsuit was filed in federal court. [Read more]

Measuring Consciousness

measure[1]There were reports recently of a study which tested different methods for telling whether a paralysed patient retained some consciousness. In essence, PET scans seemed to be the best, better than fMRI or traditional, less technically advanced tests. PET scans could also pick out some patients who were not conscious now, but had a good chance of returning to consciousness later; though it has to be said a 74% success rate is not that comforting when it comes to questions of life and death. [Read more]

Syrian Christian Mother Praying but Feeling Hopeless as Bombings Occur Every Day

damascus[1]A Syrian Christian mother said the country’s civil war is continuing in full force, with street bombings and deaths an everyday occurrence. The mother said she is praying to God constantly, but is getting “tired of praying” and “tired of crying” in the midst of the hopelessness of the situation. “Sometimes it seems like there is no end to all this misery. I know God is in control, but sometimes I feel so hopeless. I regularly fall on my knees and cry out to Him about why all of this is happening,” the mother, identified by persecution watchdog Open Doors USA as Hanna, said. [Read more]

Priest Steps Back from Opening House for Recovering Addicts

20140420_inq_jsober20-c[1]The Rev. John Stabeno calls his Monday-night meetings a sobering dose of “reality.” In the basement of St. Charles Borromeo, dozens of drug addicts and alcoholics and their family members meet weekly to vent, cry, laugh, and smile. Stabeno, a 14-year priest in the Diocese of Camden, says he tries to keep it real himself – right down to his attire. At a recent meeting, he wore loose jeans and a T-shirt as about 60 people gathered in a circle. [Read more]

Atheist National Conference Aims at Mormon Church

460x[3]Leaders of a national atheist group say the best spot to find a nonbeliever is in a place of faith. To that end, the American Atheists, in an effort to raise awareness and attract new members, are holding their annual conference over Easter weekend in the home of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They say the church’s large influence in Utah has made atheists in the state reluctant to speak about religious doubts for fear of being shunned. Atheist group leaders also criticize the LDS influence as having overstepped its boundaries in areas of public policy. [Read more]

David Cameron Risks ‘Alienation’, Public Figures Claim

_74348809_74348737[1]David Cameron risks causing “alienation” in society by saying Britain is a “Christian country”, a group of public figures has warned. Author Sir Terry Pratchett was among 50 signatories of a letter to the Daily Telegraph saying Britain was a largely “non-religious society”. The PM said the UK should be “more confident” about its Christianity, a view No 10 says he has stated before. Faith leaders have said they are “very comfortable” with Mr Cameron’s views. The open letter’s signatories included author Philip Pullman, performer Tim Minchin, journalist Polly Toynbee, philosopher AC Grayling and presenter Dan Snow. [Read more]

If a Student Says Homosexuality Is a Sin in School, Is It Bullying?

lead[1]What right should students have to talk about God in homework, assemblies, club meetings, and graduation speeches? This is the question at stake in a new law in Tennessee and other states across the country. On Thursday, Governor Bill Haslam signed the Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act, which affirms that religious students should have the same free-speech rights as secular ones. At first, this might seem uncontroversial; religious expression has always been protected by the First Amendment. So why did two Republican state legislators feel the need to write the bill? [Read more]

Easter on 4/20, Pot Holy Day; Pastors Reach Out

MarijuanaEaster-093fa[1]Social media has been buzzing for weeks with jokes about how, this year, Easter Sunday shares the calendar with the pot-lover’s highest holiday: April 20, or 420 in stoner lingo. Pot-smokers have long celebrated on the date by lighting up for reasons not quite clear. Yet amid the online cracks about worshipping a “higher” power, tutorials on how to make a joint shaped like a cross and photos of Easter baskets piled with pot-filled eggs, a handful of churches nationwide are using the unfortunate coincidence to make much bigger points. [Read more]

God is Dead, Alleluia, Alleluia

Caravaggio_incredulity[1]Easter is the most important holiday in the Christian calendar. Today that seems odd and perhaps even unfamiliar to many Christians since in commercial terms it is a total failure. When I was a kid, some people sent Easter cards, but now that people don’t even send Christmas cards anymore—at least not many—Easter has been reduced to what it was in the beginning, a religious celebration. Christianity began with Easter, or rather with belief in the resurrection: that’s why it is so central. [Read more]

After Noah: Five Sordid and Sexy Potential Blockbusters from the Book of Genesis

rape-of-tamar[1]Hollywood’s quest for sex, violence and disaster (or, better yet, the intersection of all three) is as voracious as British Petroleum’s quest for oil. Now, with the dollars rolling in from the latest biblical blockbuster, Noah,— $160M globally and counting—the film industry may have tapped a lucrative pool of black ooze. Greek, Roman and Norse mythology have offered up rich sources of live action and titillation in recent years: Troy, 300, Ulysses, Immortals, Thor, and Clash of the Titans, to name a few. But some critics are calling 2014 the Year of the Biblical Movie. [Read more]

How To Think Like a Philosopher (with Daniel Dennett)

What’s the Big Idea? The Puritan strain in US history and culture still lingers, and one of its legacies is a relentless pragmatism. The same culture that produces metaphysical dreamers like Walt Whitman also, always wants to “cut through the bulls#*t”, to get to the bottom line.

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Atheism of the Gaps

I’ve realized that what religious people and faitheists have been doing to atheists lately is putting us on the defensive: insisting that we read this or that book; we answer this or that argument—and if we don’t, well, then they won’t pay us any attention. [Read more]

Americans United, Allies Ask Federal Court To Strike Down Virginia’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Americans United for Separation of Church and State and its allies have asked a federal appeals court to uphold a lower court’s ruling that struck down Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban. A legal brief filed by Americans United, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and 20 other religious and public policy groups says the state’s ban is unconstitutional and argues that it restricts, rather than preserves, religious liberty. [Read more]

Governor Chafee declares May 1 ‘Day of Reason’ in Rhode Island

Governor Chafee has proclaimed May 1 as “A Day of Reason’’ in Rhode Island. His proclamation begins: “Whereas, the application of reason, more than any other means, has proven to offer hope for human survival upon Earth by cultivating intelligent, moral and ethical interactions among people and their among people and their environments….’’ [Read more]

Incensed Secularists Pile on David Cameron for Saying That Britain is a Christian Nation

Four days ago I described a Torygraph piece recounting Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent spate of pro-religious remarks. [Read more]

“We Have Had Some Success, Although We Sure as Hell Need More”
Greta’s Interview with Black Skeptics

Black Skeptics: In the book you stress the value of engaging in debates about religion with believers to encourage questioning and coming out. However, as you acknowledge, debating the validity of religious belief is only one part of the equation. [Read more]

AIG Proves the Bible Is True?

Prepare yourself for an intellectual thrill, dear reader. Your mind is about to be enhanced by the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (ol’ Hambo’s online ministry). Your guide on this adventure is Mike Matthews, who is editor in chief of Answers magazine — that’s Hambo’s in-house vanity journal, which is peer-reviewed by creation scientists. [Read more]

My Life as a Missionary Kid

What follows is part one of a series by ElectroMagneticJosh, a man whose parents were Evangelical missionaries. This series will detail his life as a Missionary Kid. (MK) I hope readers will enjoy this series. Please leave  Josh your comments in the comment section. [Read more]