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Christopher Lane
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Entries by Christopher Lane

Republican Freethought

(5) Comments | Posted January 25, 2013 | 3:50 PM

In her absorbing, difficult-to-put-down account of Robert G. Ingersoll, the charismatic orator, political thinker and Republican mover-and-shaker of the 1870s and 1880s, Susan Jacoby revisits the compelling history and insights of "the greatest American popularizer of freethought, agnosticism, and evolution."

Her dazzling account of the portly, big-hearted Ingersoll, who in...

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'Young Earth' Baloney on the House Science Committee

(170) Comments | Posted October 10, 2012 | 6:17 PM

A Republican congressman has dismissed evolution, the Big Bang theory and embryology as "lies straight from the pit of hell."

Representative Paul Broun (R-Ga.), whose speech at Liberty Baptist Church in Georgia last September was posted on YouTube yesterday, may not be unique among Republican congressmen in holding...

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Losing Our Religion: Doubt By Numbers

(286) Comments | Posted July 5, 2012 | 7:30 AM

When the Pew Research Center polled young Americans in April about the strength of their religious beliefs, as Huff Post and other media reported last week, 31 percent of respondents (almost one in three) under the age of 30 acknowledged harboring doubts about the existence of God.

That's...

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How Can Religious Cultures Become Less Fundamentalist?

(80) Comments | Posted June 21, 2012 | 11:09 AM

In her recent Huff Post interview with Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Sister Joan Chittister, author and member of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, spoke forcefully about the Vatican crackdown on nuns, with arguments that also addressed the broader issue of doctrinal dissent and how -- indeed, whether --...

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Biblical Homophobia and Christian Pastors

(82) Comments | Posted May 23, 2012 | 2:33 PM

As we contemplate the political and religious implications of Mississippi GOP lawmaker Andy Gipson citing Scripture to suggest that lesbians and gay men be "put to death," a position he has since walked back even as his original post on Facebook remains, we are left wondering...

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Faith According to the Bible(s)

(127) Comments | Posted May 11, 2012 | 7:09 AM

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." So runs the celebrated line in Hebrews 11:1, the rationale that underpins so much of the Judeo-Christian tradition. According to that rationale, as the writer of the Epistle puts it, faith is a summation of hope...

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Biblical Literalism, Secularism And American Politics

(27) Comments | Posted April 18, 2012 | 3:47 PM

In his recent "Newsweek" cover story, "Christianity in Crisis," Andrew Sullivan gave at least three reasons for the crisis he sees afflicting American Christianity:

Many suburban evangelicals embrace a gospel of prosperity, which teaches that living a Christian life will make you successful and rich. Others defend...

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Evolution Before Darwin

(54) Comments | Posted March 27, 2012 | 11:34 AM

Long before Charles Darwin published "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection" in 1859, lively debates about evolution flourished on both sides of the Atlantic. Virtually unknown to many American readers today, Robert Chambers' fascinating book "Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation" (1844) was, for instance,...

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The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere

(11) Comments | Posted March 5, 2012 | 11:19 AM

On both sides of the Atlantic, a debate about the scope and limits of secularism has begun to collide once more with those wanting to increase the power and presence of religion in the public sphere.

The debate isn't of course new, and in many cases never really went away....

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Religious Self-Definition a Major Issue in Dawkins's Poor Debate Performance

(626) Comments | Posted February 16, 2012 | 11:04 AM

"For once, Richard Dawkins is lost for words," Stephen Pollard crowed recently in a widely read column in Britain's Daily Telegraph. "Atheists' arrogance is their Achilles' heel, as cringe-making radio performance has proved."

The performance in question has Dawkins stumbling, uncharacteristically, when pressed to give the full title...

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Two Ways Of Thinking About Agnosticism: Hitchens Vs. Dawkins

(412) Comments | Posted January 31, 2012 | 9:30 AM

In his 2010 religion debate with Tony Blair, roughly a year before his untimely death, Christopher Hitchens decided to address what he said was most "twisted and immoral in the faith mentality, its essential fanaticism, its consideration of the human being as a raw material, and its fantasy...

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The Striking History of Britain's Sunday Law

(5) Comments | Posted January 10, 2012 | 9:00 AM

The "Act for Preventing Certain Abuses and Profanations on the Lord's Day, Called Sunday," which Britain's Parliament made law in 1781, bears more than a striking name. For more than a century-and-a-half, while Britain was industrializing and democratizing, the Observance Law was responsible for closing each Sunday not just the...

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Debates About Agnosticism Are as Old as the Concept Itself

(3) Comments | Posted December 21, 2011 | 1:00 PM

"Agnostics ... have no creed," Thomas H. Huxley famously declared in his 1889 essay on the subject. "Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method," the English biologist explained. It stems from "honest disbelief" in religious creeds and tenets, and concerns all who share "a pretty strong conviction...

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Doing Justice To Agnosticism

(523) Comments | Posted December 3, 2011 | 2:29 PM

"I was raised among people who knew -- who were certain. They did not reason or investigate. They had no doubts... In their creed there was no guess -- no perhaps." These words by Robert G. Ingersoll, the celebrated American orator and political thinker, appear in his 1896 essay "Why...

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Christian Opposition To Evolution Is Neither Inevitable Nor Universal

(498) Comments | Posted November 13, 2011 | 7:21 AM

"The majority of Republicans in the United States do not believe the theory of evolution is true," Gallup News Service reported in June 2007, following significant interest in the topic during the GOP primaries that summer. With Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee and Tom Tancredo all indicating that they...

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