Dedicated to attaining an Age of Reason in the application of rational thought to society's laws, ethics and beliefs and to entering upon an age of reason in our individual lives.

In Association with The Jesus Puzzle web site: jesuspuzzle.org




The New Morning After
(November 5, 2008)

The next glass ceiling? An atheist United States President. (Well, probably not in my lifetime.)

The reception of Barack Obama and his victory speech in Chicago last night was extraordinary and uplifting. Jesus' Second Coming is going to have to work to top that. (He'll need a good campaign manager.) Obama will have some difficulty in living up to the expectation and adulation, but he will handle it, I am sure, with the same level-headedness and aplomb that has been one of his trademarks. He may have no miracles in his arsenal, but the American people will settle for integrity, and they can say goodbye to eight years of disaster and dishonor by George W. Bush and his evangelical cadre. (When you have integrity on your side, all things are possible; when you have God on your side, all things are permissible.) The Supreme Court has dodged a bullet that threatened to turn it into a council of ayatollahs, and we can only hope that the Republican Party will return to being something worthy of an advanced and secular nation in the 21st century.

Addendum - October 26, 2009: My attention to this Age of Reason website has been pretty woeful over the last couple of years due to a focus on revising and expanding my book, The Jesus Puzzle. However, that work has now been completed and the new book published. While it started out being envisioned as a simple second edition of the original, it grew over time into something which entailed much more research and material, and deserving of its own title. Jesus: Neither God nor Man-- The Case for a Mythical Jesus is almost three times the length of the original book. And while the layout is similar and contains many passages in common with its predecessor, the new depth of evidence and argument presented justifies offering it as a separate work. The original The Jesus Puzzle will be maintained as a simpler version of my case as long as both continue to find an audience. For information on the new book, see Jesus, Neither God nor Man.


New Items
Commentaries

July 10, 2010:  "What Madness Is This?" A Review of the Film "AGORA"
A brilliant creation, telling the tragic story of Hypatia of Alexandria and the fall of reason before dogma.
Review by E.D.

March 19, 2010:  Does the Catholic Church Need a New Inquisition? (A Satire)
As accusations of priestly sexual abuse of the young continue to come fast and furious from around the world, are current preventive and counter-measures adequate?
Comment by E.D.

February 1, 2010:  Haiti, Pat Robertson, and Excuses for God
The inimitable televangelist, ever suffering from hoof-in-mouth disease, explains the Haitian earthquake by blaming the Haitians and absolving God.
Comment by E.D.

December 23, 2009:  Santa, Satan and Sacred Cows
Various ends of a spectrum of symbols of good and evil.  Letting go of Santa, Satan and Jesus.
Comment by E.D.

December 1, 2009: 2012, Revelation, and other End-of-the-World Mayhem
The Mayan concept and prediction of cyclical renewal is about to be put to the test in late 2012, and along with it the long Christian and western fixation on an apocalyptic overthrow of the present world. Yet how can Jesus be returning if he was never here in the first place?
Comment by E.D.

January 26, 2009:   Recognizing Religion for what it is
A short review of a new book by U.S. psychologist Dr. Darrel W. Ray: The God Virus: How Religion Infects our Lives and Culture. The road to a cure must begin with diagnosing the illness.
Comment by E.D.

November 26, 2006: Two Champions of Reason and Science
Reviews of Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris, and The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.
Comment by E.D.
followed by:

Harper's Folly
A response to the Harper's magazine review of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion by Marilynne Robinson, a smug and pretentious defamation of science and scientists by a not-so-subtle champion of religion.
Comment by E.D.

October 1, 2006:   Götterdämmerung
Has the world finally reached a tipping point where religion and competing gods are concerned?
Comment by E.D.

July 26, 2006: Are evangelicals living in an asylum...or should they be committed to one?
In evangelical churches around the nation, Christians are celebrating the latest round of war in the Middle East as a prelude to Armageddon.
Comment by E.D.

June 7, 2006: Which one of the following two articles is a joke?...And for how long?
A comment on two articles from the Internet: one a report on Bush's Constitutional amendment proposal against gay marriage, the other a report on a Republican convention in Texas.
Comment by E.D.

February 6, 2006: Deliver Us To Evil
Yet another sexual abuse scandal has surfaced in the Catholic Church involving a high-ranking priest and young boys. What are we doing to our children, and why doesn't the whole sordid business come crashing down?
Comment by E.D.

August 28, 2005: The End of Faith?
A review of one of the most powerful indictments of religion ever published: Sam Harris' The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. Don't miss this book.
Comment by E.D.

July 8, 2005: The Elephant in the Room
Bob Geldoff and his Live 8 concert have been playing at the wrong club. Is the blame for the Africas of the world being laid at the wrong door?
Comment by E.D.

July 1, 2005: Of Priests and Prostates, Cabbages and Kings...
Musings on why we let religion and its representatives do what they do to us.
Comment by E.D.

June 18, 2005: "The way this country is going..." Should finding Jesus let you off the hook in matters of Law & Order?
Comment by E.D.

April 7, 2005: Obituary
Remembering John-Paul II.
Comment by E.D.

March 25, 2005: Terri Schiavo and the Religious Right
Is Terri Schiavo still "alive"? And who is being served by the evangelical opposition to the long overdue death of her body?
Comment by E.D.

March 6, 2005: Resisting Evolution
In the latest issue of Skeptical Inquirer, an excellent critique of creationism and why the message isn't getting through to creationists, by Dennis R. Trumble. A few excerpts and comments.
Comment by E.D.

January 10, 2005: God and Tsunamis
The agonized question "Where was God?" has echoed around the world since the Asian tsunami disaster. Attempts in the media to answer it have been less than satisfying—or honest.
Comment by E.D.

November 26, 2004:  Are We Facing an American Taliban?
A comment on Joe Bageant's "The Covert Kingdom" (November 26 under Articles and Reprints: see right column)
Comment by E.D.

November 16, 2004: Invasion of the Mind Snatchers: What is Happening to America?Thoughts on a CNN Special about the evangelical community and its influence on the U.S. election.
Comment by E.D.

November 10,2004:   "NYPD Blue" Finds God
Last night, in an uncharacteristic plot twist on TV's toughest cop show, TV's toughest cop was visited by an 'angel' in the form of his deceased former partner to learn that there is a God after all. Is Steven Bochco caving in to the new political-religious atmosphere?
Comment by E.D.

Articles and Reprints

October 26, 2009: The Church's Tipping Point?
The scandals of priestly pedophilia and sexual abuse of children continue to come fast and furious. Are we getting closer to a proper response to such odious and seemingly endless iniquity?
"Enough is Truly Enough"

February 10, 2008: Two Indictments
"If Dante had given his Inferno another level, it would have been for priests who prey on kids." With an appended short review of Peter de Rosa's Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy.
"Beyond Betrayal"

July 1, 2007: Self-Fulfilling Prophecies?
Will Armageddon come about because some people believe in it? If you're an American—or even if you're not—be prepared for the scariest thing you've ever read.
"Bush, Mideast Wars and End-Time Prophecy"

May 7, 2007: The Dangers of Militant Atheism
A recent editorial rant against "militant atheism" in a Canadian newspaper prompted a counter-voice of reason, an indicator of the current turning of the tide against the privileged position of religious belief.
"Those Fanatical Atheists"

November 26, 2006: Are we finally getting tough on religion?
A California forum on science and religion attended by Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris pulled few punches in warning that "the world needs to wake up from its long nightmare of religious belief."
Getting Tough on Religion

February 6, 2006: The Banality of Ignorance
At the latest version of the 'Scopes Monkey Trial' in Dover, Pennsylvania, an array of witnesses for Intelligent Design displayed a less than informed basis for their machinations to get ID into the classroom. Commenting on excerpts from a Harper's magazine account of the proceedings.
God or Gorilla in Dover

October 15, 2005: "The Politics of Ignorance"
A comment by Sam Harris widely posted on the Internet, plus another quote from his book The End of Faith.
The Politics of Ignorance

August 28, 2005: "Religion Itself is the Fount of Most Evil"
Reprint of an article in the British "Sunday Herald" of July 24, 2005, following the London subway bombings. An excellent companion piece to my review of Sam Harris' book The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason.
Fount of Evil

June 29, 2005: And they shall be given Dominion over us all...
The Dominionist wing of the Christian right is gaining ascendancy in America. Chris Hedges at Harper's online recounts his attendance at one of their conventions, where madness reigns.
Feeling the Hate

June 18, 2005: And they wonder why we find religion so scary...
When true believers rise in their rapture, will they leave a ruined planet behind? A look at Bill Moyers' view as the "delusional" comes in from the fringe to threaten the survival of us all.
There Is No Tomorrow

December 6, 2004: Scalia in shul: State must back religion
A frightening 'take' on the U.S. Constitution by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. This kind of twist would enable a majority minded Supreme Court to impose just about anything of a religious nature on the country. (Circulated recently on the Internet.)
State Must Back Religion - Scalia Opinion

November 26, 2004: The Covert Kingdom - Thy will be done as it is in Texas
An article by Joe Bageant, senior editor at the Primedia History Group, Winchester, Virginia about the Christian Reconstruction movement. Possibly the most powerful and the scariest thing you've ever read on the Christian Right in America.
"The Covert Kingdom" by Joe Bageant

November 22, 2004: It's Still Open Season on Atheists in this Country
A column in the St. Petersburg Times in August says it all about being an atheist in America. Fear of non-belief has become stronger, it seems, than any other prejudice —and the only one that's still politically correct.
"Open Season on Atheists" by Robyn Blumner

November 16, 2004: A Los Angeles Times article on the Erosion of Common Sense
Circulated on the Internet back in May, "Enlightenment dimming: Reason and secularism under attack" by Francis Wheen sounds a warning call all the more apparent and urgent following the re-election of George W. Bush.
"Idiot Proof..." by Francis Wheen

November 7, 2004: Will We Survive the Flood of Religious Disinformation?
Frank Zindler has kindly permitted me to reproduce a good portion of his article "Disinforming the Faithful" which appeared in American Atheist, Winter 2003-2004. It reveals not only the extent of the brainwashing that believers are subjected to in evangelical Christian circles, but the strength and organization of this movement dedicated to producing a flood of literature in support of Christian propaganda and rationally untenable world views.
"Disinforming the Faithful" by Frank R.Zindler

 


 

Age of Reason Reader Feedback
Send E-mail to Earl Doherty
(There has now been a fair amount of feedback on the new Age of Reason site, and most of it has been posted, with comments in reply. Following that, feedback on my review of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" which includes some very interesting reaction to the film itself pertinent to the issues discussed above.)

Challenging the Verdict: A Cross-Examination of Lee Strobel's 'The Case for Christ' - Excerpts from the Book

The Passion of the Christ: A review by Earl Doherty of Mel Gibson's controversial film.

Vardis Fisher's "Testament of Man":  An in-depth review and commentary on the most important body of historical fiction ever produced: Vardis Fisher's "Testament of Man." This monumental series of eleven novels by an American rationalist author of the mid-20th century traces the development of religious and moral ideas from the dawn of intelligence two million years ago to the apex of Christian power in the Middle Ages.

Now Available in Book Form - Revised and Expanded!
Dare To Think For Yourself : An inspiring new book by American writer Betty J. Brogaard recounting her personal journey from unquestioning religious faith to a lifestance of rational inquiry and a naturalistic view of the world.  Betty's work, revised and expanded, is now available in book form.  We thank Betty for letting us feature her book on the Age of Reason website for over a year and to publish comments on it, with her responses, in a special Feedback. We wish her success, and urge all those who were moved by "Dare to Think for Yourself" to consider adding it to their library, or obtaining a copy for someone they know who could benefit from it.
Available from: www.publishamerica.com
Click on the "Online Bookstore" tab, and type in the Search box: "Dare to Think for Yourself"

Recommended Links - http://www.evolutionary-metaphysics.net/

Examines the conflict between science and religion, and helps to dispel the myths and superstitions that have long been used as an excuse for political and religious extremism. Offers an easy-to-read step-by-step explanation of natural evolution, extends the theory of evolution to include the struggle for political power and the development of advanced technology, unravels the true stories behind the formation of the traditional religions, and explains why modern democratic values must continue to replace traditional religious moral values.

 



From the"Final Summation"of
Challenging the Verdict: A Cross-Examination of Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Lee Strobel concluded his book with a homily, and I would like to respond with one of my own. He endeavored to show the consequences of an acceptance of the Case for Christ as he has presented it, the ‘evidence’ that Jesus is the Son of God, atoning Savior through blood sacrifice on the cross, bestowing by his death the grace of God for forgiveness and eternal life. Mr. Strobel offered the personal example of his own transformed life, the inevitable companion piece to that other kind of transformation in the next world. There is no question that Christianity, like all religious belief, offers perceived benefits to its devotees. Otherwise, religion would have little appeal and would long since have died out. But like Mr. Strobel’s Case for Christ, those benefits are often based on a distortion or wishful misreading of the evidence.

And they come at a price.

The believer is transformed because the faith on which those benefits depend turns the real, knowable world inside-out. It creates otherworld entities and dimensions of alleged reality which are unsupported by scientific and rational evidence. It draws the focus of attention and energy away from the present world of day-to-day existence where we lead our actual lives, to a dimension which may well be pure fantasy, and thus the real world gets neglected, disparaged, distorted; it becomes populated with concepts which can only be detrimental to humanity’s enlightenment. Belief in angels and devils and personal savior gods has never produced one iota of real human progress. Conviction of salvation comes attached to required doctrines of faith, and not all are going to adopt those doctrines; many will have other, rival faiths of their own. Such differences create divisions between people, families, societies, nations; they have formed a long line of unbelievers, heretics, infidels, those in league with evil forces, leading to inquisition, witch hunts, religious wars.

Those required faith doctrines produce a heightened and unhealthy sense of sin, guilt and fear, and an alienation from our physical selves. They create places of dreadful punishment, whose resident demons spill over into the present world, threatening, torturing the mind, distorting reality. Those doctrines impede scientific advancement and a proper understanding of the world, how it formed, evolved, how it gave rise to ourselves; and we are deprived of the exhilaration at perceiving such an amazing history and development. They interfere with the ability to exercise our minds, our faculties for critical thinking, to hone our own innate wisdom in creating ethical systems to arrive at beneficial moral behavior. When ethical conduct is based on divine fiat in hallowed, petrified writings, when human wisdom and evolving conditions are prevented from exercising any role, morality’s rules become ossified, imposed, fearful of change, unable to accommodate progress.

If commendable human behavior and the fulfillment of individual and collective potential is our ultimate goal, there are far more efficient ways of achieving such things than through a collective rush to irrational faith. If, on the other hand, the attainment of personal immortality, eternal life for each individual consciousness in some heavenly utopia, is the goal, then we may be grasping at the greatest unreality and irrationality of all. Nothing in the observable universe suggests that such a goal is possible, or written into the scheme of things, much less that it might be desirable from the larger point of view. What the observable universe does suggest is that human happiness and fulfillment may indeed be achievable, but only through understanding ourselves and the world we live in, accepting that we are all part of a naturalistic universe, and doing our best and wisest to operate in harmony with it. If, within that context, it may be possible to perceive something of larger significance, of greater identity for the individual, the route to discovering such a thing must lie in a fuller comprehension of our observable universe through reason and scientific investigation.

The Case for Christ does not lead us in that direction. For this, and for the failings of the case itself, I ask the jury and the larger court of public judgment to set Mr. Lee Strobel’s own verdict aside, and bring us a step closer to entering upon an Age of Reason.




INGERSOLL'S VOW

Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899) was a famous attorney and orator whose brilliant lectures drew thousands. As a political figure, he came close to achieving the Republican party's nomination for governor of Illinois, but prejudice and intolerance denied him the opportunity because he was an atheist.

When I became convinced that the universe is natural—that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light, and all the bolts, and bars, and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world—not even in infinite space.

I was free—free to think, to express my thoughts—free to live to my own ideal—free to use all my faculties, all my senses—free to spread imagination's wings—free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope—free to judge and determine for myself—free to reject all ignorant and cruel creeds, all the "inspired" books that savages have produced, and all the barbarous legends of the past—free from popes and priests—free from all the "called" and "set apart"—free from sanctified mistakes and holy lies—free from the fear of eternal pain—free from the winged monsters of the night—free from devils, ghosts, and gods.

For the first time I was free. There were no prohibited places in all the realms of thought—no air, no space, where fancy could not spread her painted wings—no chains for my limbs—no lashes for my back—no fires for my flesh—no master's frown or threat—no following another's steps—no need to bow, or cringe, or crawl, or utter lying words. I was free. I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously, faced all worlds.

And then my heart was filled with gratitude, with thankfulness, and went out in love to all the heroes, the thinkers who gave their lives for the liberty of hand and brain—for the freedom of labor and thought—to those who proudly mounted scaffold's stairs—to those whose flesh was scarred and torn—to those by fire consumed—to all the wise, the good, the brave of every land, whose thoughts and deeds have given freedom to the sons of men. And then I vowed to grasp the torch that they had held, and hold it high, that light might conquer darkness still.


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