Month: March 2006

Negative study on intercessory prayer

Information on the Herbert Benson-led study on the possible health benefits of intercessory prayer has begun to appear in the media. The results appear to be negative. (Disclaimer: the actual journal article appears next week. And I’m a physicist, not qualified to comment on the details of medical research anyway. And as some of the Negative study on intercessory prayer

Methodological naturalism revisited

When countering anti-evolutionary views such as those put forth by the intelligent design (ID) movement, anti-ID commentators often refer to “methodological naturalism” as a “ground rule” of science. I’m not entirely happy with this, but I don’t see any great problem either — provided we think of this “ground rule” as a pragmatic rule, not Methodological naturalism revisited

Atheists and nonbelievers, by country has data on the top 50 countries with the highest percentage of people who do not believe in God (though may not self-report as “atheists”) and the top 20 countries with the largest number of nonbelievers. The data comes from Phil Zuckerman, “Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns,” in Michael Martin’s The Cambridge Companion to Atheists and nonbelievers, by country

Distrust of atheists–further evidence

Internet Infidels executive director Keith Augustine has pointed me to another study which also shows that Americans distrust atheists. This report (PDF) by the Pew Center, issued March 22, 2006, lists Americans’ favorability ratings for various religious groups on p. 3 (table 5) from a July 2005 survey: Table 5.————————————————–Favorability Ratings of Religious Groups————————————————–Opinions of Distrust of atheists–further evidence

Slavery and the Bible

Ed Brayton has been carrying on some very interesting discussions on a specific topic of biblical morality, the subject of slavery and why the Bible doesn’t condemn it. It’s fascinating to see how some Christians have tried to argue about the subject with him. The subject of slavery in the Bible is one of the Slavery and the Bible

Our Alleged Fallen State

There is a story that believers like to tell and it goes something like this: everyone is sinful. We are all tainted and filthy. We murder and steal and generally wallow in our lowly state. But religion lifts us up and brings us closer to God. Religious precepts makes us moral, so that we may Our Alleged Fallen State

The E-Word In Arkansas

“I am instructed NOT to use hard numbers when telling kids how old rocks are,” says an Arkansas geologist and science teacher. “I am supposed to say that these rocks are VERY VERY OLD … but I am NOT to say that these rocks are thought to be about 300 million years old.” That and The E-Word In Arkansas

Plantinga on ID

Alvin Plantinga has an interesting comment on judge John Jones’s recent anti-ID (intelligent design) ruling. Now, I find it hard to agree with much of what Plantinga is saying (as usual), but he also has a few good points. In particular, trying to define science in such as way as to exclude supernatural agents as Plantinga on ID

The Evolution of God

The other day I was chatting with friends and the subject of God came up. (Imagine that!) They knew I was an atheist and one of them, who had been reading Karen Armstrong’s A History of God, told me that one thing in the book left a lasting impact on her. She said that it The Evolution of God