Why Evil Rules—If God Is...: A question of believers and Non-believers alike


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If there is an ethical aspect to the uses of science it is with regard to the latter but not to the former.

Conceptual Lacunae and Confusions in the Religion and Morality Debate

Religion, on the other hand, seeks to explore if there is a significance beyond and behind a strictly scientific understanding of the universe and of humankind. Put crudely, science is about empirical explanation, whereas religion is about uncovering some further meaning if indeed there is one to be uncovered. This latter is not an easy project, any more than is science. Not knowing how to cope with this new humanism, the church as it so often does in such situations sought to extirpate the fresh menace, and there were indeed many victims.

One of the pleasures of being Archbishop of Armagh is that one becomes with appointment as archbishop ex-officio chair of the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium.

Pascal's wager

The observatory was founded late in the 18th century by a previous archbishop, Richard Robinson , who was fascinated by the work of the pioneering astronomer William Herschel , and wished to place Armagh at the forefront of such scientific exploration. Robinson saw religious conviction and the encouragement of science as complementary.

He could see, however, that science might serve to enrich religious belief. A potential shared ground that must surely be explored between a religious belief system and an atheistic humanism that can finally learn to respect one another, is where an ethical commonality might seek to explore what the human person is to be in a future world where individual identity will no longer be defined in terms of any usefulness to society.

A self-learning computerisation, combining with almost limitless and instantaneous connectivity and vast robotic abilities on a scale that few of us can begin to grasp, will change the face of the Earth at incremental speed, allying itself to the reckless human destruction of the natural resources of the Earth. Atheistic humanists and religious believers alike surely owe it to humankind to explore — from their differing perspectives — an intrinsic value in what it truly is to be human.

A downward trend in voter participation should cause concern not just to politicians but to advocates of a vibrant, democratic system of government. The French president has a tin ear for the position of central and eastern European states for whom concerns about the Russian threat are very real. Archbishop Richard Clarke.

Bigger Than Phil

More from The Irish Times Opinion. Sponsored Want to help combat climate change? Start by planting a tree. Electric vehicles are gathering pace. Ulster University Business School: closing the skills gap. Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber. The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription.

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You should receive instructions for resetting your password. Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards. Screen Name Selection. Those who could not were sent to prison or to labor camps. But while Selective Service laws had been revised again and again to clarify the criteria for conscientious objection, they still did not account for young men who, like Seeger, refused to say that their opposition to war came from belief in a Supreme Being.

Over time, draft boards came to resemble freshman philosophy seminars in their attempts to decide who did and did not qualify for C. Different boards reached very different conclusions, various appeal boards upheld and reversed those decisions without much consistency, and, inevitably, some of those appeals ended up before federal courts. Atheists, long discriminated against by civil authorities and derided by their fellow-citizens, were suddenly eligible for some of the exemptions and protections that had previously been restricted to believers.

But, in the decades since U. Seeger, despite an increase in the number of people who identify as nonbelievers, their standing before the courts and in the public sphere has been slow to improve. Americans, in large numbers, still do not want atheists teaching their children, or marrying them.


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They would, according to surveys, prefer a female, gay, Mormon, or Muslim President to having an atheist in the White House, and some of them do not object to attempts to keep nonbelievers from holding other offices, even when the office is that of notary public. Such discrimination is both a cause and an effect of the crude way in which we parse belief, which has barely changed since Daniel Seeger completed his C.

Lack of belief in God is still too often taken to mean the absence of any other meaningful moral beliefs, and that has made atheists an easy minority to revile. As that remark suggests, the one wall the current Administration does not want to build is the one between church and state.


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  • In Theory: Can believers and nonbelievers find common ground?;
  • The most evident manifestation of this resurgence of Christian nationalism has been animosity toward Muslims and Jews, but the group most literally excluded from any godly vision of America is, of course, atheists. Yet the national prejudice against them long predates Daniel Seeger and his draft board. It has its roots both in the intellectual history of the country and in a persistent anti-intellectual impulse: the widespread failure to consider what it is that unbelievers actually believe.

    American antipathy for atheism is as old as America. Although many colonists came to this country seeking to practice their own faith freely, they brought with them a notion of religious liberty that extended only to other religions—often only to other denominations of Christianity.

    True religious liberty was rare in the colonies: dissenters were fined, flogged, jailed, and sometimes hanged. Yet, surprisingly, no atheist was ever executed. According to the Cornell professors R. Nonbelievers were either few and far between in Colonial America or understandably cautious about making themselves known; clergy and magistrates rarely bothered to mention them, even derisively. Still, his argument was audacious for an era when most colonies had established churches and collected ecclesiastical taxes to support them. It was striking, then, after the Revolutionary War, when the men who gathered for the Constitutional Convention banned religious tests for office holders, in Article VI.

    God Exists and is All Loving

    But, while neither was a creedal Christian, both men were monotheists, and, like John Locke, their ideas about tolerance generally extended only to those who believed in a higher power. It was another one of the revolutionaries who became a hero for the nonreligious. Both atheists and their critics often make a hopeless muddle of the category, sometimes because it is genuinely complicated to assess belief, but often for other reasons.

    Some believers, meanwhile, use atheism to discredit anyone with whom they do not agree. For atheists, at least, this definitional elasticity provided a kind of safety in numbers, however inflated: as their ranks grew, so did their willingness to make their controversial beliefs public. William Lane Craig and Bill Nye vs.

    Ken Ham do today. With nonbelievers starting to assert themselves, believers began more aggressively protecting their faith from offense or scrutiny.

    The Moral Argument

    All but three states passed Sabbatarian laws, which were imposed on everyone, including religious observers whose Sabbath did not fall on Sunday. Such prohibitions linger in blue laws, which now mostly restrict the sale of alcohol on Sunday. Indeed, the charge of atheism became a convenient means of discrediting nontheological beliefs, including anarchism, radicalism, socialism, and feminism.

    That presumption became both more popular and more potent during the Cold War. The Founders had already chosen a motto, of course, but E pluribus unum proved too secular for the times.

    In Theory: Can believers and nonbelievers find common ground? - Los Angeles Times

    Even as courts were striking down blasphemy laws and recognizing the rights of nontheists to conscientious-objector status, legislators around the country were trying to promote Christianity in a way that did not violate the establishment clause. They succeeded, albeit at a price: the courts upheld references to God in pledges, oaths, prayers, and anthems on the ground that they were not actually religious.

    Not surprisingly, neither believers nor nonbelievers believe this. Every such ruling is a Pyrrhic victory for the devout, for whom invocations of God are sacred, and no victory at all for atheists, for whom invocations of God, when sponsored by the state, are obvious attempts to promote religion.

    Why Evil Rules—If God Is...: A question of  believers and Non-believers alike Why Evil Rules—If God Is...: A question of believers and Non-believers alike
    Why Evil Rules—If God Is...: A question of  believers and Non-believers alike Why Evil Rules—If God Is...: A question of believers and Non-believers alike
    Why Evil Rules—If God Is...: A question of  believers and Non-believers alike Why Evil Rules—If God Is...: A question of believers and Non-believers alike
    Why Evil Rules—If God Is...: A question of  believers and Non-believers alike Why Evil Rules—If God Is...: A question of believers and Non-believers alike
    Why Evil Rules—If God Is...: A question of  believers and Non-believers alike Why Evil Rules—If God Is...: A question of believers and Non-believers alike
    Why Evil Rules—If God Is...: A question of  believers and Non-believers alike Why Evil Rules—If God Is...: A question of believers and Non-believers alike

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