Wikileaks is back in the news with revelations about the detention of Bradley Manning, the 23-year-old soldier accused of divulging classified information to the group. I’ve been critical of Wikileaks, but I nonetheless disapprove of Manning’s treatment.
In a Virginia military brig, he has been kept in intensive solitary confinement for many months, and has lately been forced to sleep naked. State Department P.J. Crowley called the treatment “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” (Crowley has since resigned because of that remark.) And if convicted, Manning may face the death penalty. Such a punishment, argues the Harvard Law and Policy Review, would be “incredibly inappropriate.”
Prominent YouTuber DasAmericanAtheist on religion’s contributions to the humanities.
Writer and ex-Mormon Ted Cox was invited by a Cal Poly secular student group to present on the LDS “Plan of Salvation.” The talk was informative and, for the most part, respectful. You may remember him as the atheist who, for two years, went undercover to various Christian-run gay conversion therapy programs.
A majority of Americans support the Congressional probe into Muslim extremism, but also feel Congress should investigate religious extremism wherever it exists.
Jeff and Matt of the Atheist Experience, a live cable access show in Austin, Texas, respond to a caller’s accusation that they’re going to hell. This clip is rated PG for pwnage galore.
Remarkably, there are still tribes who have never made contact with the wider world. In an effort to convince the Brazilian government against further deforestation of the Amazon, this extraordinary aerial footage was captured of a heretofore unknown Amazon tribe. It’s like peeking into a time portal.
The top 20 Bible passages to use against fundamentalists.
Brandon Davies’ dismissal from the BYU basketball team for premarital sex has brought the Honor Code under national spotlight. (It was also the inspiration for my favorite Onion headline.)Some applauded BYU for sticking to its principles, others charged that aspects of the Honor Code are draconian. Mormon blogger Joanna Brooks seems to be in the latter camp, writing that the Honor Code “has a dark side.”
Trey Parker and Matt Stone discuss their musical “The Book of Mormon” on The Daily Show and the Tribune.
A recent study published by the National Academy of Sciences found that musing about god’s beliefs activates those areas of the brain associated with self-referential thinking. In other words, religious people often project their own beliefs onto god.
The Oregon House unanimously voted to remove the legal protection for parents who choose faith healing over medical intervention when treating their children. Last summer, an Oregon couple lost custody of their child for deliberately withholding medical care for their baby’s eye problem.
I’m excited about a forthcoming book from Signature about the history and evolution of LDS temple ceremonies. A couple of interesting anecdotes I learned from this preview of the book: For years the endowment ceremony video included a short scene from Disney’s “Fantasia”, and in the late 1960s, it was suggested that the church construct a “floating temple” that could sail across the world and dock in countries where Mormons didn’t have a temple nearby.
Ornithologists must have a sense of humor.
In the battle over reproductive rights, pro-choice activists are losing. A pro-choice Catholic writes in the Washington Post that his fellow activists are stuck in a time warp and need less dated arguments. Among the most pro-life religious peoples are Mormons.
Controversial Utah Senator Chris Buttars has announced his retirement. The Salt Lake Tribune chronicles his greatest gaffes.
In the wake of Dr. Richard Sherlock’s conversion to Catholicism, there has been a lot of discussion about the nature of god at this blog. Sherlock was drawn to Catholicism in part because of its expansive view of god; he felt Mormonism wrongly reduced god to an “exalted man.” But Dr. James Faulconer, a philosopher professor at BYU, believes that the Mormon god still retains a kind of transcendence.
Philosophy Bro renders the essentials of Plato, Nietzsche, and Camus into frat boy speak. His summaries are actually quite good, and they make philosophy funny and accessible.
Here are some devastating satellite photographs of Japan before and after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. That’s what the disaster looks like from above, but even more disturbing is this eyewitness, ground-level view.
Scientific American addresses the popular myth of animals’ ‘sixth sense’ for predicting earthquakes.
A psychologist explains why humans are prone to seeing a cosmic or karmic force behind natural disasters and everyday events. A Christian YouTuber, for example, claimed her prayers were answered by the Japan earthquake, which she understood as god shaking Japan out of its atheism. (Thankfully, this girl was later exposed as a troll.) Unfortunately, the many Americans whose Facebook statuses claimed the disaster was payback for Pearl Harbor weren’t joking.
A question to my Christian/Mormon friends: If god was willing to flood the entire earth, as he did in Genesis, and sink dozens of large cities, as in Third Nephi, why is it now implausible or objectionable to suggest that god caused an earthquake in Japan?
Cracked.com lists 10 things Christians and atheists can (and must) agree on.
U.S. taxpayers subsidize the Westboro Baptist’s hateful ministry because their church is tax-exempt. The Phelps family, which makes up the majority of the church, is steeped in the legal profession, so they know how to navigate section 501 of the IRS tax code.
The Mormon Stories podcast last week interviewed a sex therapist about pornography, masturbation, and sex and marriage within Mormonism. Taking another approach to Mormon sexuality, Faith-Promoting Rumor contends that the LDS theology of sex wrongly devalues the virginal life.
How science can save souls.
Times columnist Jamie Whyte challenges the truism that one is entitled to his or her opinion. To the contrary, Whyte thinks we have the obligation to disabuse people of false beliefs.
Half of Brazil is estimated to be evangelical Christians by 2020. The LDS Church vaunts its progress in Brazil (and Latin America more generally), but other Christian sects have enjoyed greater growth, and all at the expense of Catholicism.
Taking the ‘defense’ out of the Defense of Marriage Act: ProfMTH explicates the Obama Justice Department’s decision to no longer defend DOMA in court.
During and after the Prop 8 debate, opponents of Prop 8 got a lot of mileage out of this Brigham Young quote: “If there ever comes a day when the Saints interfere with the rights of others to live as they see fit, you can know with assurance that the Church is no longer led by a Prophet, but a mere man.” The quote’s utility is obvious, but I always feared it was too good to be true. Well, my suspicions proved correct—the quote is a total fabrication. You really have to endeavor to find reliable resources online.
This year marks the 400th anniversary of the King James translation of the Bible. Despite its shortcomings, it remains the most influential version—especially among Mormons. Mormons Stories recently discussed the importance of the KJV within Mormonism, and the podcast featured USU’s own Dr. Philip Barlow.
A team of scientists claim they might have stumbled upon the lost city of Atlantis near Spain. I’m intrigued, but not impressed, by their evidence.
Ohio State’s Introduction to Philosophy of Religion will be co-taught Spring Quarter—by an atheist and a Christian. Their lectures will be supplemented by a weekly debate. Awesome. I think they should swap sides occasionally, like USU professors Kleiner and Huenemann did in the atheist-theist debate SHAFT hosted in 2008.
Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned leader of an FLDS cult, issued a letter (“A Warning to the Nation”) to the U.S. government, demanding that he be released on threat of terrible divine judgment for America. The letter is signed by thousands of Jeffs’ devotees and weighs three pounds.