From “The New York Times” read the essay here.
There are several competing religions, and each claims it has the Truth. We read daily of clashes between Sunnis and Shia. The last time I counted there were 144 different flavours of Christianity. How could they all be true at the same time? How would one determine which, if any, has a corner on truth? I think the most damning criticism of religion comes out of considerations like this one. David Hume pointed this out long ago in his essay on religion. Is there any truth to the claims of religion?
And what about science? Does it do any better? One day coffee is said to be good for you and a week later it is bad for you. Is sunshine good or bad? Is global warming real or just “the sky is falling” fear mongering? Compare religious claims with scientific claims. Religious claims depend on authority. What is different about scientific claims? Don’t they too depend upon authority?
One of the strengths of science is its capacity to resolve controversies by generally accepted procedures and standards. Many scientific questions (especially more technical ones) are not matters of opinion but have a correct answer.
Scientists document their procedures and findings in the peer-reviewed literature in such a way that they can be double-checked and challenged by others. The proper way to challenge results is, of course, also through the peer-reviewed literature, so that the challenge follows the same standards of documentation as did the original finding. [Source]
Also on topic is this discussion between Krauss and Dawkins.
Over the past few decades, American society has increased its tolerance and acceptance of differing sexualities. Those that voice opposition to acceptance of homosexuality on religious grounds often consider homosexuality to be “unnatural.” However, homosexual behavior is widespread across the animal kingdom. In addition to well-known examples such as in mammals and birds, homosexual behaviors occur in reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates. Among the primate order, homosexual behavior is most frequently observed in bonobos. However, it also occurs in other species, such as Japanese macaques and capuchin monkeys. Recent observations of homosexual behavior in male spider monkeys adds to our knowledge of these behaviors and may help us answer questions about the evolutionary functions homosexual behaviors may play, as well as allow us to consider if other animals have sexual orientations similar to the identities that humans construct. – SOURCE
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Twenty years ago now I had a public debate with a local god-man.
Here is one of my contributions:
I thought Reverend Atkinson had said his last word on the relationship between morality and religion some time ago. But he cannot seem to let go of the notion that religion is needed for morality. As I argued before, religion is neither necessary nor sufficient for morality — it’s a different discipline entirely.
In his June 12 column, he asks the rhetorical question: “What else (besides God) can explain our sense of moral order?”
Actually several answers are possible that do not require God at all:
1. Human nature: see David Hume
2. Reason: see Immanuel Kant
3. Human freedom: see John Paul Sartre
4. Practical knowledge: see Aristotle
5. Evolution: see E. Wilson
6. The principle of utility: see John Stuart Mill
Religious moralists usually tell us we must do what God or the gods say or we will be punished. Do good and go to heaven. Do bad and go to hell.
But basing one’s actions on the promise of reward or punishment is not to act on moral grounds at all!
It is simply to act on self-interest.
Robert D. Lane,